Sméagol the cat, lived with us almost the whole 20 years we have been at Heatherhope.
Being dog people, Connie and I often thought of him as something of a bother. He woke us each up at least once or twice a night as he liked to shift about his own sleeping positions, and preferred to use us for his pillows. He grew a strong preference for the “living water” as they say in the Bible; and so pestered us until we put him on the bathroom sink to drink from the faucet. So, we bought him his own private drinking fountain that we had to keep perfectly clean. Like any cat he would beg to be let outside and then stand still at the threshold before making his commitment. Watching TV he would shift from my lap to Connie’s side several times each show.
But then this past year he gradually lost half his weight. His howls for attention turned to whimpers. And the past couple of days he gave up eating at all. We took him to see the veterinarian, who felt a tumor inside. And at over 21 years of age, we agreed with him that it would be wrong to put Sméagol through an operation.
It was sudden, but not sudden. We knew it was coming. But when it did, and we returned home to have a night without feeding him his canned food and cleaning his two litter boxes, and welcoming him into our bed, we thought not of the bother, but of the hole in our lives.
The house is alive when you share it with a cat. Things move into and out of your peripheral vision. Soft mewings crescendo into blood curdling moans. You make constant accommodations and negotiations. It seems a bother, but it is life.
And we know that Sméagol had his own fan club. Friends, family, training clinic patrons, the farm sitter, all ask about the cat before they ask about me. How is old Sméagol? Is he still shaped like a balloon? No. Not now. Is he still as talkative? We wish. Does he still like to rub up against the legs of all the guests? No. We are left trying to remember how he felt.
No bother now. And so there is a great big hole in our lives.