Some years ago, I was challenged to write an uplifting blog post. and I thought about it and thought about it, and thought about it..and finally thought..’what’s more uplifting than a story about love and how it brings neighbors together’? I’ve decided to share the story once more, because it’s a good one.
So here it is.
This is, or, more accurately, was (as she’s RIP), my Persian cat, Jerrie.
Jerrie came as a 5 month old cage-raised kitten. For those of you who don’t know what this means; it means Jerrie spent the first 5 months of her life in a cage, allowed out of it for an hour a day–the other 23 hours were spent in that cage. It also means that kitty has very little practical experience concerning what the world outside of a cage, is like.
When I found out about this cage-raising thing, from the breeders’ where Jerrie was at, I was horrified. There was simply no way in hell I was leaving where she was at without her. I don’t think I’ve ever written a check faster.
My intentions were good. They were. But they were, also, misguided. Because I had never had a cage-raised kitten before, I did not know that they would not necessarily react well to life outside of a cage, and so, when I got her home and let her out of the cage, I thought she would explore the house like every other cat I’ve ever had.
Wrong. Instead she freaked out.
She found her way under the furniture and refused to come out until, I, in a fit of desperation, bribed her out with a wiggling shoelace and a dollop of hairball paste. It took 3 days to accomplish this mission. After that, I stuck her in the bathroom to get her used to a bigger space..slowly..expanding her run of the house until she got used to the idea that there were no more cages.
Even so, the first night she was left loose to roam the house, she still managed to get herself under the microwave cart and thought she was stuck, a feat which caused such howls of protest that both my then-fiance and I looked at each other asking, ‘what the f*** was that?’ and took off hell-bent for the kitchen..and there Jerrie was, screaming her foolish little head off.
She purred for us the first time as we got her out from underneath it. She wasn’t stuck. She simply didn’t know how to back herself up. *facepalm*
In that moment, I like to think that there was a turning point of understanding..
I understood her need to be closed in when she felt insecure.
..and she began to understand that she didn’t need to be quite so insecure that she had to stick herself under the furniture.
I don’t think that then-fiance understood a thing except that he’d just been called to the scene of a cat acting particularly dumb. LOL
Even with that glimmer of understanding, she was not a smart cat by any stretch of the imagination. I had to teach her how not to drown herself in the water dish, for example. I had to teach her about toys. Catnip was a revelation. She would sniff at it as would a wine expert a particularly fine vintage of red, and that was about as far as it went. None of this rolling around in it stuff for *her*, thankyouverymuch.
Thank God, she understood the litterbox OK.
In return, she taught me about the purest form of love. The kind where you don’t know how to be anything else but loving. Think about that for a minute.. literally not knowing how to do anything else but love, so that’s what you do.
..but that was Jerrie when it came to people. Whether she loved up close and personal; or from a distance, or somewhere in between, this little cat was a gently opinionated soul that loved people..and the older she got, and the less bright she got due to feline dementia..the sweeter and more loving she got (at least in between the howls of desperation because she was lost and couldn’t find her people..or find her way out of the room she was in).
When Jerrie passed away at the age of 14, I was a wreck. My neighbors, thank God, had seen me leaving the house with Jerries’ carrier, and I had just come home crying from the veterinary hospital without the carrier (I’d donated it to the veterinary hospital in case they had a client come in who couldn’t afford one), when my neighbors started showing up asking me about Jerrie and if she was OK.
My neighbors were quite familiar with Jerrie, as I was living in a community with an Homeowners’ Association (HOA) and the HOA meetings were held, at one time, in my living room..so most of my then-neighbors had met Jerrie and most had actually come to like my always-innocent little cat with the soft paws, and her big copper eyes.
I explained that Jerrie’s kidneys had failed, and between kidney failure and her not knowing where she was anymore, I’d had to put her down, and as I explained this, I, understandably, had tears rolling down my face.
Next thing I know, one of my neighbors had sat me down, gone and gotten a bottle of whiskey and started serving drinks. It was 10 o’clock in the morning.
Somewhat shocked, I started exclaiming, and was duly informed, ‘My aunt is the Mother Superior of a Convent of the Catholic Church. She says that if there is a wake taking place in the morning, then it is perfectly acceptable to have a drink in the morning to toast the departed. As far as I’m concerned, this is a wake, and if drinking in the morning is acceptable under those circumstances to a Mother Superior, than it’s all right by me. Now drink your whiskey, honey.’
My neighbor raised a toast to Jerrie. and we all toasted the cat and drank our drinks.
It was a memorable moment, and quite a send off for a little cat who didn’t know how to do anything else but love.
I’ve never seen another cat quite like Jerrie since, and it is my joy and privilege to be able to share her, just a little bit, with my Gentle Readers, today.
It is my hope that someday, all of my Gentle Readers will experience a love like that from a cat..and that all cats will get a kindly send-off with a heartfelt toast from the community they live in, when they pass over the Rainbow Bridge. 🙂