Thursday, 24 September 2015

Just a cat?

With the recent loss of my beloved Pagan, I have dreaded hearing the words I heard when I lost my cat Caspian by people who didn't understand my grief. "But it's just a cat. You can get another one."

I'm happy to say that, this time around, everyone has been very understanding and respectful of how much his loss hurts me.

But I find my mind going back to those words. Should I feel guilty for loving my cat so much? For grieving so completely?

No, I shouldn't, and here's why.

Just a Cat

He's just a cat,
But he welcomes me home each day,
His soft fur and warm cuddles
Warm my heart and center my thoughts.

He's just a cat,
But he follows me into my children's room 
When I need to wake them in the morning,
Waking them with gentle purring and soft head nudges.

He's just a cat,
But when my son comes home from school
Crying that he has no friends,
Our cat gives him comfort and friendship.

He's just a cat,
But when my daughter feels so stressed
That she makes herself sick,
He relaxes her with his soft fur and gentle purring.

He's just a cat,
But when any of us are sad,
He makes us laugh
With his playful antics and silly obsessions.

He's just a cat,
But every day, he makes it clear that he loves me.
He chats with me with delightful purr-meows,
And he sticks by my side.

He's not just a cat.
He was never just a cat.
He is family.
He is a best friend.
He is loved.
And he loves back.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Pagan the beautiful cat

For those who weren't graced with the chance to know him, this is Pagan:

Pagan loved chasing leaves in the fall, especially when it was extra windy.

He was also fascinated with snow. While some cats would stay indoors when it was cold and snowy out, Pagan saw this as a time to go explore.

He used to follow us when we walked the dog to the nearby park. We'd take our dog Mercury off his lead, and then he and Pagan would play. Pagan would hide in the bushes and then jump out at Mercury when Mercury ran by. Sometimes he chased Mercury. Sometimes Mercury chased him.

Once at the park, he was playing with Mercury when a little Jack Russel terrier came to the park. It wasn't on a lead and it barked and chased Pagan into the bushes. I could just see the back end of this terrier showing while the rest of it was inside the bushes. Suddenly, the little dog yelped and went running back to its owner. Pagan came out of the bushes right after, tail high. It was obvious he was quite pleased with himself.

As he matured, he stopped playing with Mercury as often, contenting himself instead with stealing Mercury's bed for naps.

Pagan would not wear hats or dress up in any way. I once tried to get a photo of him with a Santa hat on his head. This only resulted in him attacking the hat.

When he groomed himself, his long fur often got stuck to his tongue. He also had really, really bad breath. If he started grooming himself while cuddled up beside you, you were immediately assaulted with a horrible stench, but it was worth it to have him near.

Cameron, the youngest child in the family, wasn't always gentle with animals. But with Pagan, he was different. Pagan and he seemed to have an interesting relationship. When Pagan would be lying on the couch grooming, Cameron would go over to him and lean his face close to Pagan's face. Pagan would stop grooming and turn to Cameron and lick Cameron's face. Then Cameron would giggle, give Pagan a quick pet and go back to whatever he'd been doing before.

He used to come and rub all over me when I laid on our bed. He would meow at me and cuddle, and if I didn't pet him with both hands, he'd rub himself across my face and seek out whichever hand wasn't doing the petting.

Pagan loved being part of the family. When we were all in any one room, that's the room he wanted to be in too. this meant that every Christmas, he would join us as we opened out presents. We always had presents for him too, but he preferred playing in the boxes and wrapping paper.

The neighbours all knew Pagan. He'd wander into their houses freely. Sometimes they'd find him curled up asleep in their beds upstairs. Sometimes, he'd sit at their feet when they opened their fridges and wait for them to get a treat out for him. I had to let them all now to stop feeding him, because, for a while, he had started putting on too much weight. One neighbour confessed to feeding him tins of tuna, and her daughter confessed to giving him lunch meat from time to time.

He was loveable. He was mellow. He was like a big, fluffy, soft teddy bear. I had several nicknames for him. One was Rumblepuss because he seemed to always be purring, and loudly too. Another was Teddy Bear, because anyone, including children, could pick him up and cuddle him and he never bit or scratched or got aggressive over it (even when a toddler once held him by his belly, upside down). He was also my Little Lion, because he has such a lovely mane on his neck that gave him the look of a much larger cat sometimes.

He loved to lay on his back with his paws up in the air. This was made especially adorable by his fluffy belly. Often, when he cuddled by my side, he's roll to his back, an invitation to scratch his belly. If I scratched his belly but stopped sooner than he wanted me to, he'd grab my wrist with his big paws and pull my hand back to him so I could continue scratching his belly.

If I stared into his eyes, he'd immediately stand up, meow at me, and come over to me.

He loved bags. When we would unload the groceries, we'd empty one bag and start emptying another. Within seconds, he'd be inside the bag we just emptied. He was the same way with baskets.

Pagan loved boxes. He loved to chew on them and shred them with his claws, but he also loved hiding inside them, reaching out small openings in them to grab anyone or anything nearby, and just curling up to sleep in them. We once had a massive box, so we cut a bunch of holes in it. He and out other cat Jynx spent ages playing together in the box.

Pagan loved it when we played with electronic cars or other things that moved. too lazy to chase them around, he would more often lie down on the tracks or near them and stop the cars when they whizzed by by reaching out a paw.

He also loved chasing string. The children all enjoyed playing with him by dragging ribbons, shoelaces or strings around for him to chase.

When Pagan met Loki for the first time, he just went up to our little kitten Loki and started grooming him. A new kitten in the house? To Pagan, this was no big deal; it just meant another family member to love. He was the same way when he met Jynx for the first time.

Pagan sometimes drooled when he was really content. I think this was caused by his overbite. Sometimes when he was relaxed, he looked like he had vampire fangs because of the way his teeth lay in his mouth.

Whenever I sang, Pagan would immediately start meowing and come over to me. He'd then, while continuing to meow at me, walk all over me, head butt me gently and then lay beside me. I never figured out whether he came over to me because he thought my singing sounded like a cat in distress, because he LIKED my singing, or because he thought my singing was so awful it was the only way he could get me to shut up.

I was Pagan's person. Without a doubt, if he could only choose to live with one person from our household, he would have chosen me.  He frequently followed me around the house, He even occasionally jumped onto my lap for a cuddle while I was sitting on the toilet. He'd wait for me on the mat outside my shower. He would rarely jump onto the sofa to cuddle with anyone other than me, but he frequently wanted to cuddle with me. He loved curling up beside me on the couch. First, he'd have to meow at me over and over, and walk on me a bit, then he'd just lean against my side and let himself slide down into place, firmly cuddled up against me. (He even cuddled my laptop while I was using it.)

Pagan was very special, and I am going to miss having his cuddles and his unceasing "talking" to me.

I love you, Pagan.

Pagan the beautiful kitten - continued

Pagan had his first bath. He wasn't thrilled with it, but, unlike some cats, he wasn't terrified of the water either. 

Pagan found out that he loved playing in baskets and in large bowls.

Pagan loved to play and act silly. They played with strings and he would leap into the air and twist himself into funny shapes to try and catch the string.

Sometimes, the younger children weren't as gentle with him as they should have been. One time, one of the little girls in the family shut him into her doll house.

When he met their dog Mercury, the two of them played. He would act as fierce as his tiny little self could act, and Mercury would pretend to bite him, but neither of them would really hurt each other. It was all pretend. Sometimes, he even stood on his back legs and came after Mercury as if he were pretending to be a great grizzly bear.

He also liked to cuddle with his family. The baby of the family was easy to climb up on and sleep with. He cuddled with everyone in the family, but as time passed, it was clear that his favourite person was Becky.

As he grew bigger, his eyes lost their blue and became the yellow-green of most cats. He even got taken outside and was allowed to explore the outdoors a little bit.

- to be continued -