Shadow was a bad cat. Absolutely awful. He teared up furniture. He got under everyone’s feet. He climbed the table and stalked the kitchen whenever someone was in it. No food was safe. He even managed to drag the turkey off the table and onto the floor one sad Thanksgiving. And years after that, he still usually managed to take a bite or two out of it.
He was fighty, he was bitey, his tale was often more active and aware than he was. He was a terrible cat. And he was one of the best damn cats I’ve ever known.
I could tell a million stories about Shadow. And I’d probably forget another ten million. In essence, he was the Marley of cats. He was badly behaved, idiotic in a stupid-yet-clever sorta way, and he was the most loving creature in the world. He saved my life and enriched it time and time again.
The best way to give you the picture of Shadow is tell you about his death. Early on the morning of April Fool’s Day, he collapsed in front of the refrigerator. We hurried to get him to the vet to be euthanized, since it was obvious that he couldn’t survive but needed some help letting go of life. He loved car rides, and my brother, who was holding him, swore that he was purring. Shadow loved car rides in a way I’ve only seen in dogs.
The vet helped him pass without suffering too much. He’d had a stroke, and while his body was paralyzed, his heart was still trying to beat. (And what a good heart it was) He’s buried outside our kitchen, with a giant rock on top of his grave so that he doesn’t come back as a zombie. Trust me, if he could, he would.
He had a full, adventorous life. His death is bittersweet. It hurt watching him become frail after spending so many years the definition of energetic, and sensing the frustration from himself as his body gave out on him. And the last days of his life were filled with table scraps, trips through his garden in the sun, and open laps. Yet I find myself choking up as I wander through the house I don’t see him tripping me up on the stairs or showing me that the food bowls are empty. The day he died, we sat in the kitchen wondering at the strange sensation of not having to fight the cat for our food.
I’ve been fighting the urge to write about his whole life to share it with you. I’m crying even now at the little I’ve written. There will never be another cat like Shadow…until he reincarnates and comes to bug us again. 😉