Almost 14 years ago, in Independence, Missouri, I was on my way to an appointment to see a Persian kitten. I had recently lost my beautiful cat, Casper, who had lived a full 18 years. I missed him and was lonely for the whiskery love of a cat. For years, I had thought Persian cats were gorgeous and was not thinking beyond that. I wasn’t sure how to get to the lady’s home and this was pre-GPS days, so I took note of the directions and started out early – I don’t like to be late. I got to the area a full half-hour early, but saw a PetsMart near her home and wanted to look for a few cat toys.
And that decision to stop at PetsMart changed the course of what was to be and began my love affair with my new cat, Rascal. When I went into the store, I realized they were running an adoption program for pets from the local animal pound. I saw an adorable litter of kittens with their tuxedo mom. Wanting a male cat, I asked if there were any males in the litter and they said, “two”. I started playing with the male tuxedo kitten and all he was interested in was going back to play with his sisters.
I then asked which other one was male and they pointed out the little mackerel tabby sitting in the corner of the litter box, watching the rough and tumble play of his siblings. I wasn’t sure he was a cat I was interested in, but I said I’d like to see him. And that was it. They placed him on the table in front of me and he ran to me, climbed up my shirt and snuggled at my neck. I laughed and my heart melted. I set him back on the table and he did the same thing…purring in my ear and snuggling in for life. I called the lady with the Persian kitten and apologized that I would not be there. But I knew I had made the right decision.
Rascal was a one-person cat. He adored me and hissed and growled at almost everyone else, especially the vet – and anyone who worked there. He purred like a motor-boat if I looked at him. When I stroked his lovely chin and forehead, he squinted his gorgeous, green eyes and purred louder. He loved me and I loved him.
Rascal spent the next two years with me, keeping me company and we were happy to hang out on the couch, curled up with a book or watching television. His adventurous spirit was limited to hanging out on the windowsill, watching the birds, other cats and some squirrels playing in the yard. He didn’t like the outdoors at all and if the door opened, he ran to the bedroom, hiding under the bed.
When he was two, my new love, Beau came to visit my house for the first time. I expected that Rascal would hide until he was gone, but my shock could not have been bigger. Rascal walked over to him and the doorway, rubbed against his legs and purred. And when Beau sat down on a chair in the living room, Rascal hopped up behind his head and curled up, content to hang out with him. My sweet, one-person cat had just become a two-person cat. And that would last for the rest of Rascal’s life.
Beau and I were married several months later and Rascal and I flew from the United States to Germany to live with my new hubby while he finished the last bit of his 5 years working for the US Government in Germany. Rascal thrived in Germany! He loved the marble windowsills and the radiators that heated them in winter. His favorite places were on those sills, watching the birds, the comings and goings of the neighbors and the distance he maintained from our landlord’s beagle and sitting in front of the balcony door. But our time in Germany ended and we hopped on another plane, back to the United States and Texas – our new home.
Rascal’s next nine years were years of love, contentment and his happiness being a two-person cat. His favorite window was in the patio door. He pushed the curtain aside and would stare out – and panic if I was outside. I think he couldn’t quite comprehend why anyone, ever, would want be be outdoors. He’d watch every move I made until I came back inside.
And then he seemed to get hair balls all the time, started losing weight, and I knew that something was wrong. His frequent visits to the vet began last May. We dealt with treatments for the hairballs, he had a few bad teeth removed and he seemed to stabilize. And then he began to lose more weight. At first, we assumed it was because we had changed his diet to accommodate his fewer teeth, the need to keep his food more moist.
But then six weeks later, he was sick again. And we returned to the vet…again and again. Finally, I realized there was something much more wrong with him. I saw him every day, but even I knew he was losing a lot of weight. My once fat, fluffy cat who had weighed in at one point over 17 lbs was now at 11 lbs. And that was when he was diagnosed with an intestinal tumor.
Our wonderful vet removed the tumor and sent it in for a biopsy. We were told that Rascal’s tumor was cancerous, but that of the two types, it was the lesser and the margins were clean and it had not progressed to lymph nodes. My optimism returned. I thought we were going to still keep my baby with us for a few more years. A month later, we discovered more issues and then the diagnosis that there was likely another mass in his intestines.
At that point, we took him home to enjoy his last days. To the bitter end, my sweet, loveable Rascal looked at me with love, wanted to be held, snuggled and purred whenever I looked at him or stroked his beautiful face. I adore him still and miss that face and the love he gave me from that first day at PetsMart. I will never love a cat the way I loved him. He was there for me during my time alone and accepted my husband into our life unconditionally…and with no hesitation.
“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ~ Charles Dickens