Our Relationships with Animals Make Us More Human

I will truly miss is my relationship with my cat.

Posted Nov 04, 2011

A best friend, with lessons to teach

My cat, Piewackett, is seventeen, which makes him 88 in human years. When he jumps on the kitchen counter, instead of yelling at him, we applaud.

We almost lost him last week. I could tell he was uncomfortable, so we went to the vet. We were told that we'd have to leave him for treatment or perhaps worse, I could tell the doctor was deeply concerned when he wrapped him in a towel and hurried him to the back room. I was devastated. But thanks to Simi Valley vet, Dr. Lowell Novy, Piewackett actually got to come home-to jump yet again on the kitchen counter, which he did last night.

I now have to give him injections of fluids, and medications, but I can take it if he can. He's declining, like any of us, but as long as I can keep him comfortable, he'll stick around. Animals have a way of letting us know when they're ready to go. The thought makes me want to cry, and I have and will again. He has spent his entire life with me. That's a unique relationship.

I rescued him just after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He was living under the front porch of a friend, who coaxed me to come over "just to see" this cute little kitten. I did go over, with no intention of taking him home, but fortunately for us both, he fit so nicely in the palm of my hand. This tiny jet-black creature looked me in the eyes and told me he was mine.

In the beginning, he was frightened and would never allow anyone else to hold him. But like most of us, he eventually mellowed. Now he is happy to be stroked by any loving hand that passes in his direction. I think the same thing often happens to people who have pushed others away in their youth; they crave attention when they start to see fewer years in front of them than behind.

I call him a micro-panther because of how he slinks his extra long body and tail across a room. Truly an elegant creature. And a cozy one. He likes to sleep under the bed covers in the winter; I always wondered how he could breathe down at the foot of the bed. It is kind of strange to feel fur on your toes at five in the morning.

What I think we learn most from animals is their unconditional love. Piewackett was banished from the bedroom for several years by one former companion (should have been a sign). And yet he still loves and trusts me completely. I can wear him around my neck like a fur collar, and he just hangs there purring. I'm going to miss that.

I will even miss cleaning up hairballs and having him wake me in the middle of the night to play or at the crack of dawn to feed him. But what I will truly miss is my relationship with my cat, and that is so human.

Authors afterthought: I thought about going to see my therapist to talk about it and then decided I'd rather spend the two hours petting Pi. In this case that would be the best therapy.

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