I have never been fond of cats. Not only am I highly allergic to them, but I find their sometimes aloof, always underfoot behavior to be highly annoying. I am enough of a clutz on my own without a cat constantly winding itself around my ankles. One day, my husband was out hunting and brought home a tiny, malnourished dirtball he found among a litter of barn cats. It was the runt and had received a corneal abrasion at the paws of one of its littermates.
“But look at her- she’s so pathetic,” wheedled my husband, “She’ll die if we don’t take care of her.” This, coming from a man who will shoot anything in season, including Bambi, Thumper and all of their forest friends. I could tell he was a lost cause already. And seriously, how could I sentence a baby animal to death? Not even I am that mean. I did make him promise to keep her in the garage, otherwise my allergies would be unbearable. He fed her, washed her, made her a bed and bought the kitty litter box-thingy. Soon, she was riding around on his shoulder and using all of us as her own personal jungle gyms. Brian named her Bib, short for born in a barn, and she was every bit as weird as her name. She would fetch like a dog, pounce on leaves and dustbunnies, but wouldn’t hunt anything living. She was even afraid of bugs. She would entertain us by sneaking up on us when we were outside or in the garage, grabbing our lower legs with her front paws, then tearing away like a maniac. We would speak to her and she would always answer with a meow, often at different pitches, as if she were really talking. Brian frequently did Lassie scenarios with her and, against my will, I found myself becoming quite attached.
On New Year’s Eve, I let her out of the garage to play with the neighbor’s cat. When my daughter and I came home, we saw her sitting by the corner of the garage. She meowed and tried to walk to us, but her rear legs kept collapsing. I knew immediately that she had been hit by a car, so my husband and I bundled her up in a blanket and took her to the animal hospital. The news wasn’t good; her pelvis had been fractured in at least 4 places, including the joint itself. Surgery, if it would even be successful, would cost several thousand dollars, payable upfront. We didn’t have it, especially right after Christmas. We didn’t want her to suffer, so we decided to have her put to sleep. Brian was so upset that he couldn’t bear to see her like that, so I stayed with her while the Vet administered the medication. I patted her face and talked to her while her head slumped to the blankets. One second she was there, looking at me, then she was gone. When they gave me her little blue collar with the bell on it, I bawled like a baby. I guess if a non-cat person like me can change, almost anyone can. We’ll miss you, Bib, you little allergen-toting putty-tat. I love you.