The Cat Came Back (2)
Kate, Virginia, USA
In our family, cats adopt us, not the other way around. Typically, they would stay a year or less. "Champ" was the only cat who chose to stay with us permanently. We believe she came from an abused home, as she was very skittish around people for years after she came to live with us.
She had the most beautiful black coat that got a lot of compliments from friends. When we moved away from our house, we were afraid she would try to find her way back from the new house to the old one, (she is an outdoor cat) but she never did that.
A few months after moving into the new house, we found out that Champ had cancer on the left side of her mouth and in her throat. We had no idea, but it had apparently been around for a while. When mom called the vet to her house, Champ was at the point where it was hard for her to swallow and was in obvious pain. Mom tried to call both of us to discuss putting her down (at this point I lived an hour away) but neither my sister nor I could be found. Mom made the difficult decision to put her down while the vet was there. The vet was good about it, mom says, holding her like a baby when she carried her out of the house. My sister was very upset that she did not have a chance to say goodbye to Champ, and a very difficult phone discussion ensued between all of us.
I saw how my sister felt, but also saw how my mother felt: it would have more than likely been months before any of us had what it took to go back to the vet & put her down. Having been through that process with a former pet, I was sad yet relieved. My mother, however, was in tears by the end of the discussion and doubted her decision. She told us both that she could not stay on the phone any longer.
I went into town to visit her the following weekend. She told me that the same night that the argument occurred, she felt her lap heat up while she was sitting on the couch, feeling guilty. It was the kind of radiating heat that only an animal can give. She looked down to see what it was, and saw Champ- just for a second before she disappeared again & the heat went away. Mom said that she had her beautiful coat of fur back and looked happy. That very moment mom stopped feeling bad about her decision, knowing in her heart that it was the best decision for Champ.
Ever since Champ died (over a year ago now) I very occasionally hear meows that I rationalize as a door opening or closing somewhere in the house. I'm not really sure which one it is. When I go down to the basement, I step over the first step half the time- that was her favorite place to linger, and I think it still is.