Blackie. My little cuddle buddy.
Except once in a while she isn’t.
Maybe she gets tired of my tossing and turning.
I miss her, although I probably breathe better.
Just lately, I’m a bit worried about her.
So, do I take her to the vet and say “I’m worried.”?
A lot of help that would be.
The thing is, Blackie tested positive for Feline Leukemia and that is a sort of time bomb. She could live a long life, or she could contract some normally harmless bug and fall victim to it.
The truth is, one should really not keep a Felv+ cat in a community with cats that are Felv- because it is contagious. We were stunned when we discovered this had happened. Blackie was a stray that adopted me. She had been in the neighborhood for some months and someone had had her spayed, because one day she showed up with her ear docked.
When stray cats are spayed (in WA anyway) they are tested for Felv and if they are positive, they are put to sleep. So we did that foolish thing, we made an assumption that Blackie was negative and when the weather got bad that Winter, we took her in.
How foolish did we feel when our vet tested her and we got the news? We had a momentary panic, checking that everyone else’s Felv immunization was up to date. No way Blackie was going back out.
Fortunately, our cats are all stand-offish.
They don’t groom each other or lie together.
We keep everyone pretty safe.
So, why am I worried about Blackie?
I’ve no idea.
Or maybe I do. Lately, when she looks at me, she reminds me so much of Panther:
Panther was a small black cat with twisted legs.
And his personality was HUGE.
When he died, the house felt empty, even though I had numerous other cats, and my heart was empty too.
Since childhood, I’ve grieved deeply over animals and years of therapy never taught me any better way of doing it.
Possibly, it has to do with deep-seated separation anxiety.
Intellectually, I know so much grief is pointless, but it refuses to be denied.
Somehow, I knew that eventually another cat would turn up. I wasn’t looking for one, but I knew it would arrive.
And after some 18 months, Willow (2) showed up, completely out of the blue.
She crawled into my lap and looked up at me, kneading her claws. “Panther sent you, didn’t he?” I said to her. So silly. I know. But Willow crept into that empty part of my heart.
Blackie arrived a few months later, as something of a surprise. I wasn’t expecting another cat and I actually thought originally that she belonged to someone.
But she came and camped on my doorstep.
We made her a bed in a box (she sat on top) and of course we fed her, but it was plain to the neighbors where she was and no one came to claim her.
She always came to help me in the garden, talking to me and sitting with me however long I was there.
One night when a storm was expected, we simply brought her in and she made me her person.
It didn’t take me long to realize that Panther had sent me two cats. One to cuddle and be close with and one for “intellectual pursuits!” He would, totally, have sent two cats for his replacement! He was the most self-confidant cat I ever knew. He had been the “boss” to whom all deferred.
In my mind, Panther was a crow, in cat’s clothes. I always think of him when I talk to crows. We have a whole family here, so I talk to them every day. When I see them strutting past my window, I see Panther’s funny walk and it is rather comforting.
Nowadays, I have 12 cats, including “Panther’s two” and a couple more that are “mine”. I love them all to bits, so how is it possible to still miss Panther so much? Because he was different. As was Yeti, as was Thim and Mo and many others. They all touch me in different ways.
Maybe I have a mental defect, because I have absolutely no control over the tears that roll down my face. Or the pain in my heart. Maybe it’s just that those pets were the family I never really had.