The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
What can I tell you about our cat, Raven?
I think first, to understand why I am wasting your time telling you about a cat—about a creature that licks its own pewp and fur and spends time sleeping with its head upside down and often spooked by its own shadow–you must understand a little bit about how Shawn and I view them. How we view a creature that is, compared to humans, generally the dumbest thing, ever. I have to explain that we’re those kinds of people. Shawn and I? We’re pet people.
We stand around in pet stores and make high pitched squeaky voices for the kitties and birds. We annoy you by going d’awwwwww at all the doggies people bring into pet friendly stores. We pick up our cats, no matter how many times they hit a jugular when we do and we shove our faces in their warm bellies and snorgle-huff away.
They are our children.
So when I tell you about Raven, you’ll probably get bored. Your eyes might glaze up and you might skim through this going too long, didn’t read. You might skip to the end. You might skip this entirely. That’s okay. If you don’t snorgle kitty bellies, then you won’t understand how Raven’s presence in our lives—like any of our cats—touched every single aspect of our house. No, we don’t just mean the fur and the pooping, puking and or fur. Did we mention fur? No—it’s more than that.
When I tell you about Raven? I’m trying to tell you about love, unconditionally. About a cat that never cared if my hair looked good, if my clothes were stained, how fat I was. About a cat that was fat and round and could purr loud enough in one end of a house and be heard in the other end. I’m trying to point out that time when she got a plastic bag stuck around her head inadvertently, and in order to tell us that she did indeed, have a plastic bag over her head? She bolted to where Shawn and I were sleeping, claws out, all seventeen feet of them (well it felt like it to us) and ran around us in a circle. The fastest I had ever seen that cat move in my life. And all we could do is roll around the bed and laugh so hard at her there were tears.
She shook off the plastic bag a second after running around by the way. Then she went for a nap.
When I try and tell you about Raven, I want to tell you about the fact she wasn’t originally Shawn’s cat. She was tossed at Shawn by a woman who couldn’t give a shit about what happened to the cat, and who was probably responsible for the fact that it took two years for Shawn to coax her out from behind things.
I want you to know that he coaxed her out from hiding behind things by playing her Jazz and enticing her with chicken.
I want to tell you about her fur, too. It was this glorious, thick coat of black on the surface. You could sink your hand into her coat forever. It had a second layer, like down. It was light charcoal gray and you could only see it when we had to trim knots off her because when she was young, she was too fat to lick herself and when she got old, too old to bother.
I want you to understand how a pair of green eyes that light up when you called her name, her pert ears, her bright eyes when you said, “Raven!” And she knew her name. She knew it. She knew the difference between “Raven!” and “Food!” and when you said her name it didn’t matter how sick she felt. Her head would come up and she’d look at you with alert eyes. She’d wait to see what you wanted.
And this last year, when she was her sickest; when you said, “Raven,” her head would wobble blearily up. But her eyes would open, her ears would stand right up and she’d look right at you. And if you said it again, she’d stretch her paws out as if she were trying to reach you. And if you waited, patiently, she would lurch to her unsteady feet. She would wobble side to side in her old age and diabetic numbness and slowly, slowly, make her way to us.
I want to tell you that even then, she would purr and purr and purr and purr if you pet her. That you could still hear that purring from one end of our apartment and back.
Now that I have told you, I want you to understand that she’s gone.
For the past few days we’d been trying to get her to eat. She’d eat a teaspoon at most; lick the juices from her cat food. Mostly she just laid by the water bowl and drank. When she had to use the litter box she’d limp her way to it and then come back to the water bowl.
Around 3 am on September 11th, I took her blood sugars. They were 68. They should be higher than 100. I gave her a dose of karo sugar and waited two hours to take them again. She was bone-thin. She was following us around the house, begging for food and not eating. She was sick. She was not happy anymore.
I want you to understand that we have lost something so vast. Something for us, that is unimaginable. A child that could not speak or run or plays like the ones without fur, but a child we loved nonetheless.
If you understand that, then you know why today I had to tell you about my cat, Raven. And why today I have lost another piece of myself, quietly, into a memory of warm, black fur and deep rumbling that remains in the house of my heart—purring I can hear from one end of it to the other.
Good bye, little lights.
January 1998 – September 11th, 2010