I didn’t plan to write about this tonight. But I’ve cried a lot today and felt like I needed to tell you what is heavy on my heart.
My cat died five weeks ago today. Waddles was 21 years old, a black and white half-Persian beauty. I was blessed to have her for eleven-and-a-half years.
I still cannot write much about her. I can’t express in words how much I miss her.
For the last year or so, when her health was gradually worsening, I tried to be very deliberate about being mindful of and grateful for her presence.
When she lay down beside me with her head on my arm, I tried to memorize the feeling of having her close to me and listening to her breathing.
Waddles lifted me into a new perspective on life. With OCD, I was always afraid to be responsible for taking care of any creature, because I feared doing something wrong or forgetting something important.
I feared that I would begin to have new and even worse obsessions about hurting someone, and that would trigger more compulsions.
And then there were the concerns about germs and dirt in the house from another creature.
She was my mother’s cat first. After my father died, my niece encouraged her to get a cat to keep her company. My mother didn’t like cats much, but a dog was too much for her physically to take care of. So she adopted Waddles, whose original person had died.
The first time I met Waddles was when I visited my mother, and she walked into the living room where we were sitting. She looked at me, then jumped up on my mother’s long couch. I was sitting on the other end.
Waddles made her way to me, placed her front paws on my leg and began to purr.
I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t like cats.”
That didn’t stop her. She kept purring.
The man who is now my husband said she picked me because she knew I would love her and take care of her.
I soon moved in with my mother for nine months, and I grew very close to Waddles. I loved her so much, but it was still reassuring to me that I was not fully responsible for her.
That changed when my mother gave her up for adoption about 18 months later, after I had moved out.
I went to the shelter and adopted her myself. I was afraid to do it, but my husband encouraged me. When I worried aloud that I didn’t know how to take care of cats, he said, “She’ll teach you.”
The first night with her at home, she hid a lot. But in the middle of the night, I woke up hearing her crunching her dry food in the kitchen. It didn’t freak me out. I didn’t jump up to make sure there was no food on the floor. I just smiled and went back to sleep.
Taking care of Waddles showed me how wonderful it can be to be responsible for a creature that you love. Any worries were just part of the relationship.
I loved taking care of her, watching over her and making sure she had good food to eat. I loved trying to find fun toys for her and creating comfortable spaces around the house for her. I loved holding her and talking to her and just being with her.
And cleaning up after her didn’t trouble me like I had feared. It was part of taking care of her.
Loving her, and then my husband’s cats, Thunder Cat and Sam, broadened my views about animals, turning me into an advocate for them.
I am so thankful for her. I thank God for her every day, for the wonderful cat she was and for what she meant to me and did for me.
I am grieving now, and I will never “get over” the loss. But I would not have missed having her for anything.