Today we said goodbye to our little furry family member – Mittens. She had been with me since before the kids, before marriage, before Arizona. That little lady was my constant companion, loyal friend and co-sleeper.
We had a few months of notice that she was probably in decline (and at 13 years old, no one can blame her) so we spoiled her rotten. When the end was very near, it was obvious, leaving us time to formally say our goodbyes before the dreaded trip to the vet’s office.
I thanked her for her years of friendship, and told her I’d remember it all. The time she got into a hidden bag of catnip and we found her covered head to toe (and how she was subsequently stoned for three days). The time she was the first to try out Daniel’s crib and changing table… I think she thought SHE was getting a new bedroom. The countless times she woke me up at 6:28 a.m. for breakfast. The way she slept curled up on my left side almost every single night. The sound of her voice. Her passion for tuna, ice-cream, yogurt and (?) licking graham crackers. The little spot on her neck where I buried my head so many nights. The crazed look in her eye when Daniel brought out the red laser pointer. The time a college roommate let her outside accidentally and subsequently four pajama-clad students were roaming the streets to find her. The number of framed photos of her I kept on my grad school desk, and how co-workers were required to compliment her before borrowing a stapler or scissors. The way she sniffed at the outdoor world and when given a trip to the backyard, always ended up rolling in the dirt until she was no longer grey, but brown. The snooty way she tolerated the other cat’s existence while he was here, but always made sure we knew her place in our family. The way my children often refer to us as a family of five. The way my future husband was more nervous to meet Mittens than my parents – he knew her approval was a prerequisite for my love. He was right.
Her departure from this life was peaceful, and while gut-wrenching, I’m so glad I chose to stay with her until the end. Her precious head in my hands, her last view – my face, and the relaxation that came over her sweet body in a comfort I know she hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I miss her in a thousand little ways already. Her constant presence, movement, noises. There is a distinct vacancy in the house, and I know we’ll be adjusting to it for a while. Daniel sticks his chin up boldly and declares, “So, now can we get a fish?” but moments later tears well up in his eyes and he quietly says, “But I miss HER, Mommy.”
Mittens will always be THAT cat. The one my kids first remember, the one they see in photographs. The one who transcended the “pet” title to earn her place in the family. The one who stayed by my side for eleven years, in seven different homes. If there are pets to come, so be it. But I have a pretty good feeling that no other will challenge Mittens’ place in our hearts – she simply was the best. cat. ever.