The Cats’ View From My Office
There’s a murder of crows/ravens doing their own unique dance on my front lawn. They land in a cluster on the ground, pecking at the dirt since what little grass there is has been burnt to a crisp by days of heat and no rain. Without warning, they swoop back into the air, dividing their time between my yard and the two across the street. Doves perch on the power lines at a safe distance from their oversized brethren, preferring a lazy glide to the frantic dance.
It makes for a special edition of what I like to call “Cat TV”. I have a large tree in my front yard which conveniently shades my office and the guest room, but also serves as a jungle gym for the birds and squirrels, and as a result, constant entertainment for my house cats. With tails twitching, they chitter and chirp as if they’d catch one of the massive creatures should I risk their delicate constitutions out in the hard, cold (OK, maybe not so cold right now) world outside my window.
Strangely enough, my outside cats show no interest in the aerial show, preferring to find a shady spot to lounge. They do most of their hunting at night, and bring me gifts of creatures who also choose to eschew the sun’s unforgiving rays. Under cover of darkness, or at most, a full moon, rats, mice, and gophers roam the neighborhood hoping to avoid the claws and jaws of hunters like my garage kitties. There seems to be little competition between the owls and other night hunters, and the local cats as there’s an abundance of prey. Though my house and yard are no longer a hospitable environment for four-footed pests, the hunting grounds within a house or two still seem to be abundant.
Sometimes I Have to Mourn
My best hunter, Hailey disappeared a month ago, and I’ve seen or heard no trace of her, though I’ve searched the neighborhood near my house. I didn’t wander far, as I know she stuck to a 4 or 5 house radius. While it’s possible someone or something carried her off, nothing but the odd behavior of the other two a few days after she disappeared gives me reason to believe I’ll find any evidence of foul play (or, perhaps, fowl play). Since she left, I’ve had no presents. Max seems to have put a moratorium on his own hunting. Maybe it’s his way of mourning his hunting buddy and friend.
Sadly, I never took any pictures of Hailey, even after she went from semi-feral to her more recent demanding self who liked meowing at the door late at night to get her share of pets. Oddly, I don’t feel like she’s dead. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, or maybe it’s accurate. I have no real way of knowing unless she reappears. Max and Cinders, the other two garage cats did stick closer to home for the first week or two after Hailey failed to show up. I wish I could understand them so I’d know for sure. But animal communication isn’t my strong suit despite the many years I’ve shared my home with cats.
Communication is Mostly a One-Way Street
My cats understand me a whole lot better than I do them. They know when I’m feeling sad or ill. A couple of them even know exactly where I’m aching, and will lay across the offending spot, purring to ease they pain. Still, they follow the age-old feline custom of hiding their own discomfort from me, often until it’s too far along to fix. I promise myself I’ll be more observant, and sometimes I even succeed. Unfortunately for the cats I’ve lost both recently and further in the past, I’m less observant than I’d like to believe; or wish I could be.
Sometimes I get lucky. A few months ago, Dylan was quite overt about showing me something wasn’t right. He threw up sometimes multiple times a day, and almost always on my comforter. After 2 days of washing as many as 6 loads of bedding a day, I knew he needed help. Though it’s meant a daily regimen of steroids and a mild antibiotic combined with daily fish oil and l-lysine vitamins, we seem to be controlling the issue, if not curing it (I’m told it isn’t really something they can cure).
We’ve had a bit of trial and error trying to cut back on the meds, but managed to find a combination that works without having to resort to anything stronger, or with a higher risk of side-effects. He’s put back the weight he lost and then some (not uncommon with steroids), and is keeping his food down quite nicely. He isn’t fond of the daily pills, but stopped running away from me. He knows they make him feel better, and that missing a dose or two has unpleasant consequences. Again, I think he’s smarter than me more often than not.
Loosening My Heartstrings Before I’m Ready
Though many cats have come and gone from my household over the years, there are always those who grab hold of my heart tighter than others. Dylan has, without a doubt, grabbed on tighter than anyone, but only a little bit tighter than Toby who I lost in 2017 at the tender age of 11. Even Munchkin who left me in December of 2018, and who was one of the few I got as a kitten wrenched my heart for a little while when I had to make the decision to let her rest easily. But she wasn’t as hard to get over as Toby, and neither will compare to the enormous hole Dylan will leave when his time comes (hopefully later rather than sooner).
I was a complete mess when he got sick the last time, and though he’s doing well now, I can tell he’s slowing down. 14 is old for a cat, though many do live longer. He is one of the longer-lived cats I’ve had the honor of sharing my own home with. Patches and Missy both lived past their 17th birthday.
Cherishing Them for the Short Time We’re Given
Lately, for reasons that could be explained by food, environment, or simply bad luck, many haven’t seen their 12th birthday. It tears me up to lose them that young but at the same time, I’m grateful for the years of unconditional love they give me, and the trust they put in me to do right by them.
I tease them when they act sad about me leaving the house, even for a couple of hours. Yet I understand. Their lifetimes are at best 1/4 of mine, so hours to me seems like forever to them. When I’m gone for days, it’s easy for them to feel like I’ve abandoned them, despite the fact I return each and every time. They have no way of knowing where or why I went, much less if and when I’ll return to them.
I love working from home where my office is often their hangout. Some will sleep on the desk or behind the computer monitors while others sit on the bookshelf under the window watching the world go by, and the birds and squirrels playing. Having me home so much in the last few years definitely suits them fine. Like me, they can’t regain the 8-10 hours a day they used to lose me but we’re making the most of whatever time we have left. Isn’t that really the best we can ask for whether it’s with our pets, our friends, or our family?
Grateful for Every Moment
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful I’ve been able to work from home and spend more time with my shorter-lived friends.
- I’m grateful for a home that’s filled with love any time of the day or night, even when there’s no other human in sight.
- I’m grateful for a community which understands the bonds we have with our pets, and supports each other through the difficult times.
- I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to share my life and home with some amazing animals, and look forward to sharing it with them for as long as I’m alive. They make my life worth living, even during the toughest of times.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, companionship, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, laughter and tears, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward