We recently lost a member of our family. Our dear cat, Sarah Vaughan, recently went to live in a new home.
After sharing my abode for the past seven years, fate (aka two vivacious children) determined that it was time for Sarah to move on to a place she would experience more of the gentleness and quiet she longed for.
Sarah Vaughan (named for the jazz chanteuse) came into my life when she was three years of age, when her former owner moved away to another town and an apartment that didn’t allow pets. My apartment building didn’t allow pets either, but that didn’t stop the other residents from harbouring cats, dogs and other animals, so I took her on, surreptitiously.
She was an odd cat. Or at least quirky. Thanks to a birth defect, her tail was a little stump with a tight hook at the end. Her eyes were round as round, like little windshields on the front of her face. Her fur was grey mottled with flecks of brown and black, and she sported a white spot on her throat.
She loved to eat, but I kept her intake under close tabs because other cats I’ve seen with identical colouring and features have all been seriously obese – and she also showed a tendency to gain weight quickly if not kept in check.
I will admit, those first few years with me her feline existence was not the most enviable a cat could want. In fact, I kind of thought of her as the Anne Frank of kitties, living in hiding from the pet Gestapo (building management, two doors down). She’s wasn’t allowed to sit in the downstairs window, or poke her little nose outside for fear of being found out.
I would have preferred her to be an outdoors cat – and not just to save on the whole litter box mess. I wished she could go and catch birds and mice (nothing against birds and mice, but it’s a cat’s life). Frolic in the snow. Climb real trees instead of my oak filing cabinet. A cat needs to have the world at their feet.
One year, to help with this, I brought a big pile of leaves into the living room for her to pounce on. My roommate at the time, a Korean, thought I was insane (Koreans, as a rule, don’t harbour much fondness for cats). Sarah just loved it, even though I was the one who had to throw them around while she just watched.
Three years ago we moved into our own home, and she was in her glory. She was still an indoor cat (with no teeth left – she was a bit of a yuck mouth from her kittenhood, apparently – clipped claws and no street savvy, I didn’t feel it was in her best interest anymore). But with floor to ceiling windows and a view of the park, she was content curled up with her view.
That era of bliss was short-lived, however, as our son started to crawl and then walk and run shortly after. Like something from Where the Wild Things Are, he took to squealing and chasing her, and all reprimands lasted only until the next time she came round.
After close to three years of this, the stress was becoming apparent. We weren’t seeing her around much anymore, and when we did she was skittish. Getting a puppy – a Terrier no less – was the nail in the coffin. She would have to be put down, or find a new home. I really, really hoped for the latter. Being about 11 years of age, I feared the former.
But after weeks of advertising, we got a call from a family who was looking for an older cat for their 91-year-old grandmother. Perhaps Sarah would be just the cat?
We haven’t heard from them since they moved her, but I imagine she’s made herself at home in a quiet atmosphere with lots of attention and minimal screaming and chasing sessions. What a perfect way to enter those twilight years. Then again, I suspect she still has a few more lives to go…