Before we were actual parents, we were cat parents. When we found mice in our first apartment in Uptown, we brought my childhood cat, Rocky, to live with us. (And yes, he solved the mice problem). When he passed away two years later, we adopted Cadbury (Cat-buddy) and Stilton, two Siamese brothers. They were more dog-like than cat, coming when we called them, playing fetch, and greeting visitors enthusiastically.
When I was pregnant with Beatrice, they snuggled next to my warm belly every night. In Margaret Atwood’s futuristic book, Onyx and Crake, people are healed from the vibrations of purring, so I loved imagining those soothing purrs comforting the tiny growing baby inside. I thought that the cats, with their keen ears, could probably hear the baby’s heartbeat, and how they would know each other even before the baby was born.
Like most new parents, I was anxious the first couple of months. Getting up throughout the night was jarring, and it was hard to switch between taking care of a helpless baby and falling back asleep as quickly as I could. Cadbury was always happy to sleep in my arms (especially in the winter), and crawling back into bed and snuggling him was my refuge — my pet therapy that calmed me down so I could sleep. In my exhaustion I also had regular dreams that I’d fallen asleep feeding the baby and lost her in the covers, and I’d wake up in a panic clutching Cadbury, thinking he was Beatrice. But instead of fleeing after that rude awakening he’d snuggle down with me again, and we’d go back to sleep.
We noticed about six months ago that Cadbury wasn’t himself. Well, we noticed about seven months ago and ignored it for weeks hoping it wasn’t true, and when we took him in, we learned he had renal failure. Through a change in diet and every-other-day injections of subcutaneous fluids (not as scary as it sounds — it’s not hard, or so Adam says, because I never tried it), he perked up some. The last few months gave us time to love him up, as he progressively lost weight and grew weaker.
Finally, his health reached a final low, and Adam and I took him in earlier this week to be euthanized.
I never pretended that Cadbury wasn’t my favorite, although I love Stilton, too. But Cadbury and I just fit together.
Someday — after a good break without cats — we’ll get another cat. But not for awhile. Not until we’re ready for that responsibility. Once we had kids the cats at times became too much, and we weren’t the cat parents we wanted to be.
But until then we’ll love Stilton up, and make him lose some weight, and strive to be better cat parents. And appreciate what we have, and be grateful for what we had.