Spirit of Cat

Almost exactly a year ago, my cat died. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:

We buried our cat today. She was fifteen years old and had been ill for a while– frail and fragile and not eating very well. I knew she was dying. I thought I was ready for the day, but when she didn’t come home yesterday, and then last night, with the rain coming down in torrents, my heart prepared for the worst.

I thought about her all day at work. Maybe she had squeezed into an open cupboard in the garage. Maybe she was stuck in a closet somewhere. But surely I would have heard her delicate mew like I always did when I called her.

After work, I walked around the house, called her name, which was Cat because nothing else really seemed to fit. She had adopted us and had been a perfect fit for our young family– aloof in that wonderfully cat-like way, but also eager for a lap and a snuggle now and then. I looked for her under favorite bushes and trees where she would cool herself on warm summer days. Then I opened the back gate to look into the field, and that’s where I saw her, half way down the hill, a raggedy white heap of fur. I called her name, still clinging to the hope that she was alive. But she didn’t move, and I knew that she was gone.

I hated the idea of leaving her there until my husband got home from work, but I didn’t have the courage to go through the deep green grass and bury her alone.

It took too long for him to come back from work. I kept going outside and looking down at her there, drowning in that impossibly green grass. I was worried about the crows or turkey vultures or- whatever- getting to her before we could. I watched over her from a distance until I was so cold I couldnt’ anymore. I tried to occupy myself with chores around the house, like putting the dishes away– there were the treats we were trying to get her to eat. Putting stuff away in the garage– there was her litter box. You know how it is. Everything becomes a sudden reminder when the day before those same things were practically invisible in their mundane normalcy.

Yes, I know she was just a cat, but no one who has ever lost a pet would ever put the “just a” in front of their pet’s name with any real conviction.

Finally, Michael came home. Lucky for us, the soil was soft. We wrapped her body in an old red towel. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t, as Michael lifted her already frozen body from the deep grass and into the hole. I didn’t want to see her face, but I couldn’t look away, one last time. But it wasn’t her I saw; not any more. And so now, I have to force that last second image out of my brain and replace it with all the ones I have from the years when she shared our house and our lives. Blue-eyes, apricot nose and ears, long soft fluffy white fur and tail.

Good-bye sweet Cat. You had us longer than any other pet of mine. And I am going to miss you.

What made me think about this is that yesterday I was working out in my backyard. Saturday’s rains had washed the sky into a luminescent blue and the fields are once again a glowing green. I dumped some leaves into the field and looked down to the place where we had buried Cat and thought about her, and how she had died just one year ago.

I went back to my work, returned to dump some more leaves, and as I looked down into the field again, saw with amazement a white cat sitting in almost the expect spot where we had found our own cat’s lifeless body. This cat bore an eery resemblance to our own, with the signature apricot ears and nose and piercing blue eyes. I spoke to her, and she meowed at me and quickly ran away. I had never seen this particular cat in our neighborhood before. Maybe by remembering Cat, I had conjured up her sweet spirit. At any rate, it was a very strange coincidence that made me think of the journal entry I had written the day she died.

6 thoughts on “Spirit of Cat

  1. hi kare your story is wonderful and sad at the same time for me..my cat “yummy” has been i;ll awhile now..she is going on 13 years, and really, no one knows what it is like to have a wonderful, faithful loving animal unless they do..she has given us so many hours of fun, love and yes, lots of laughter..whenever i have been ill or not well she always seems to be beside me in bed oe wherever until i am well again…thank you for your story..it actually helped me to remember, the days that count with her are the ones we are in..and to just enjoy her until her time comes..i believe that was “cats” spirit you saw…how joyful..have a wonderful week!!!…carol

  2. Hi Karen, We lost our favorite butterscotch cat Timmy just before Thanksgiving 2005. He was a 9-year-old Maine Coone Cat with a mane around his neck and tufts on his ear points and toe pads. We had him since kittenhood (rescued from the dog pound). Ten months of Diabetes and complications took their toll and we buried his frail body under the lilac bushes. I’ve written Timmy’s story and hope to make an altered book with it. Just after Christmas, a large young Maine Coone Cat, VERY redhead, long fluffy tail, showed up at our door late at night crying for food. Probably a drop-off. It was an eerie thing to see him charging like a lion around the corner and running into our house like he owned the place. We eventually adopted him into the family. I could completely identify with your sighting of the white cat near your cat’s grave. Best wishes, Honi

  3. You touched me with your poignant CAT reminiscences.
    I have a small 20-year-old dog and another dog and Tuppence, the cat. Anyway, about your “new” white cat appearing…. Recently I read: “There are no coincidences — only small miracles.” Isn’t that wonderful?

  4. I just thought I would tell my story. This past year I bought and renovated this old home here in St. Louis. Several times I noticed a grey shadow moving across the floor. I am 55 and never seen anything like this before. Later I had a painter friend who would come in town; he lived about 90 miles away and would stay in the basement during the week of work and drive home on the weekends. One day I asked him it going sleeping in the basement and all and he said great but he kept seeing a shadow racing across the floor. I just kept my mouth shut out of shock I guess. Months later while in bed kind of in that half asleep dream stage I absolutely felt a cat jump up on my bed near my feet. I mean I know the feeling having a roommate in the past with a cat, how that feels. I said wow and told my friends. Now just last night in exactly the same sleep state the cat jumped up right near my head, startled I swiped with my hand to shoo him or her away. Anyway it was so real both times. Maybe I will try some meditation to see if he will appear again, which I am sure he will.


  5. Wow, Mike. That is very freaky. The fact that someone else saw this shadow must have been very reassuring to you!! I wonder if you could find out the history of the house. Maybe some neighbors know about a cat that used to live there. At least this cat seems friendly. What a relief!


  6. Your story is very sad. It made me think about the sad day when my cat will die and in fact the sadness of death that we all must face. Luckily for cats they do not know that this day will come.

    As I type my cat is lying on my left arm purring like a little engine!

    I hope that you will get another cat to light up your life.

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