Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas, Spot

When I was pulling out the Christmas stockings today, and getting ready to put them up, I was thinking about the fact that we're going to need to purchase a new stocking for Ruby, the pitbull terrier that we adopted in June.

So I was completely unprepared for coming across Spot's Christmas stocking. But this is the end of the tale, and I want to start at the beginning:

In 1997, my mother lent me our Siamese cats, Thai and Vishnu, to keep my company while I was living in my first apartment and going to college at NSU, in Natchitoches, LA. While in my care, Vishnu had to be put to sleep for renal failure. And that Christmas, when I brought Thai up with me to visit my parents, my mother told me that she missed her cat, kindly took her back, and gave me $200, with the friendly instructions to get my own.

As soon as I got back to Louisiana, I called the local ASPCA and asked if they had two female cats. I wanted any cat I got to have company during the day while I was away at classes, and knew from a lifetime of growing up with cats that females just don't develop the spraying issues that males have. The woman on the other end of the line told me that they had three cats, and I was welcome to come down and look at them.

My best friend, Mark (who was not my husband, nor even my boyfriend at this point), came with me to the Natchitoches Animal Shelter. Upon arrival, the lady working the counter told me that they had three cats-- an older female, that someone young like me probably wouldn't want. And that they had two kittens-- siblings, male and female, that had been brought in just the day before. They were three months old, litter box trained-- and the person who brought them in had rescued them from the dumpster behind their building. Someone had put these two little kittens inside a closed box...and thrown them away! Then she took me back to see them.

As soon as I saw those adorable little gray tabbies, I knew that I had found my cat. And as I sat there petting them, the woman asked me, "So you want the little girl?" To which I responded, "Give me my cats! I'm not breaking up siblings!" She smiled, and I headed home with my best friend and two kittens who were practically identical.

I knew the moment I had seen her, that I had found the cat I'd wanted since I was 12 years old. When I was 12, I promised myself that when I grew up, I was going to have a striped cat named Spot. And this was her. Her brother, I named Peeve, because I hadn't actually wanted a boy cat, and therefore he was my pet peeve (;

And I enjoyed their company and affection for two years before I married Mark and he too was allowed into our family. Over the years, between them, Spot and Peeve trained 6 dogs on proper cat etiquette. And they took well to the arrival of my furless kittens (read: my two sons).

They were pretty traveled for US bound cats-- Louisiana, Missouri, 4 different towns in Virginia, before we moved down here to Ozark 3 1/2 years ago. They had always been indoor cats. But we live on a quiet street. And one day, as Spot sat me-etting at the window and the birds, I decided to let them out. From that day on, they no longer needed a litter box-- they would sit at the door and ask to go out, or would simply follow the dogs out the door when it was time. And we developed routines-- If the cats were outside when I needed to drive anywhere, I always checked to see them with my eyes, and honked my horn to make them move if they walked into driveway, or hopped out and chased them off.

Except for June 4th of this year. All day long, Spot had layed on the table in the carport. Every time I stepped outside, that was where she was. Didn't want to come inside when the rest of the animals were called. Just lounged there in the carport enjoying the table. So when it came time to take my oldest to Karate, I did an eye check for Peeve-- and assumed Spot was in the same location she'd been all day. And I ran over my Spot cat.

She ran from under the car towards the house. I leapt out and towards her as she fell to her side, telling my boys to stay in the car. It's a blessing that at that exact moment, my father in law pulled up-- and offered to take my boys to karate for me. As they left, I gently picked Spot up and we headed to the vet. As we arrived, I opened the door, picked her up-- and she died in my arms before we ever made it in.

I drove her home, called my mother because I didn't know what to do-- and then buried my first pet ever.

Spot would have been 12 in September.

And this is my first Christmas, in 12 years, without her.

She always liked Christmas. Not only was it a stocking full of cat toys and goodies-- but she loved the tree. Batting ornaments across the floor in the middle of the night. Climbing up into the tree and staring out at us. Eating the gingerbread ornaments (lol).

Spot, you are sorely missed.

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