It is the nature of things with cats who live outdoors, or are indoor/outdoor cats, that there comes a time when they don’t come back home. Mommy Cat is missing; she’s wandered off, and it is time for me to realise she isn’t coming home.
Five years ago, you came into my life. I was sitting in the great room, and noticed you wandering on the patio. Cats came up to the house all the time, but you looked different. You were a cat in need, and I immediately sensed it. Most cats ran when the door opened – you looked up, expectant and hopeful. I came over to pet you, and you purred. You were very fat. VERY fat. You were pregnant. VERY pregnant. You wandered to the ivy patch by the door. Then, when that wasn’t good enough, you wandered under the trumpet vines.
I went inside to get food, and brought it out, and you ate it with passion. I went back inside to get some milk, and you drank that appreciatively. Each time I went back inside, you craned your neck to look inside. You had a look of longing and hope. I gave in.
The other two cats, Paul and Emma, weren’t sure what to make of the new, fat cat. You wandered the house for the next few hours, testing different spots. Emma ran and hid in the laundry room. Paul followed you around at a distance. You mostly ignored them, as you were on a mission. Your special day was close, and you had to find just the right spot.
I knew you were a cat who had been loved. You had on an old flea collar. I was also fairly certain that you’d been left behind in late spring when your owners left this college town; you’d gotten yourself in trouble, and were now looking for a safe haven. How did you know my house would provide that?
You were a cat with much love to give. I am grateful for that.
The next day I patted your head and headed off to work in the morning. When I came home at lunch to check on things, you’d already delivered – seven beautiful kittens! Two calico, two gray stripers (with other markings), two tortoise shells, and one orange tabby, like yourself; six girls and a boy. You had picked the perfect spot, not just for you, but for me – under my desk, in a room that could be easily closed. You trusted me with the kittens immediately. I rang my friend Mary, very excited, and she rushed over to see the wonderful miracle. And your name became Mommy, a name I always meant to change, but it never seemed appropriate. Mommy Cat you were, and always would be.
Six of the seven kittens found new homes, and one stayed by your side. For five years, you two were constant companions. Emma left us shortly after you arrived, and Silver came the next summer with her own batch of kittens, and you were patient and loving. You shared the bowls, the box, and your love with all the other cats. And you shared your love with me.
Moving to Anabel’s house, you fell in love with her as well, and rediscovered the joys of being an outdoor kitty once again. Ever the Mommy Cat, you would sit at a distance while the other cats were fed, patient and wise, knowing your food would be provided in due course and in good measure. Despite the fact that you weren’t the prettiest cat of the lot, you had a good soul, and Anabel came to love you, too.
I’m not sure when the last was that I saw you. One never expects a particular time to be the last time we’ll share. Most evenings and nights during the summer you would stay outside. Early last week, you spent the night inside, and spent it on my bed. Were you saying goodbye?
I will miss your silent meow, the way you’d open your mouth to speak, but not have any sound. I’ll miss your soft patter of paws and even softer fur. I’ll miss you in the mornings when all the cats are fed; I’ll miss you in the winter evenings, snuggling on the bed. Your daughter Prancer is already feeling lonely, her Mommy Cat and grooming partner no longer showing up.
Are you safe with another family now? Are you safe with God? Time flies, and it is only with my reflection this week that I’ve realised you spent five years with me. Of all the things that happened to me during my seminary career, the miracle of your kittens during my first summer will be one that I never forget, and will treasure always. You brought life and love into the house, and into my life, in a way I would never have chosen deliberately.
Mommy Cat, you were and are a gift from God. May you be blessed wherever you are, even as you have blessed my life beyond the expression of words.