Our cat, Larry, is on my lap. Not a big deal, right? The kids are in bed, the house is quiet, I’m sitting on the sofa, this is part of our routine. Tonight, it’s kind of a big deal, because while I was getting little A. settled in for the night, I was praying that our kitty was all right. For the past two days, he’s been acting especially timid and easily spooked, and has spent almost all his time under one bed or another. It’s not his norm. His diet and, ahem, digestion seem to be on track, but he’s not himself. After 13 years of being with us, we can tell.
I came downstairs from the kids’ bedtime and found Larry under our bed. I sat on the floor for a minute or so, and was surprised and delighted when he came out! I’d been checking on him all day as he was curled up way under L.’s bed–he had let me pet him, and didn’t seem distressed, but like I said, it is very unusual for him not to come out at all. I scooped him up gently so he wouldn’t disappear again, and he’s been on my lap for the past half hour or so. I can feel his purring, I’m loving his nuzzling and snuggling, and I am taking this as a very good sign of his being all right.
He’s an indoor cat and has never had any health problems. As a kitten, he lived with V., before they both moved in with me after the big wedding day. Larry has moved with us two times, one time involving a ten-hour ride in the car. He has seen the addition of two children, and welcomed them with grace and patience. He is truly a sweet, beloved member of the family. For his age, he is very lean, spry, and playful. He still enjoys jumping after a shiny string, sitting on our screened porch swing, and running full speed up the stairs.
His claim to fame in my life, which I’m fairly convinced of, was bringing on the birth of L.! The day before L. was born, Larry escaped from our screen porch in New Orleans. I hadn’t latched the door, and when I went back out to check on him after breakfast, he wasn’t there, and the door was ajar. V. and I searched the house intensely, and realized we needed to start looking outside. We walked up and down our little, quiet (thank God) street, and since some of the houses in New Orleans are raised up off of the ground, we looked under all our neighbors’ houses, too.
At one point, Larry was under the middle of our house, just like a cat would be. I can’t remember if V. tried to get under the house, too, or if he couldn’t fit, but Larry managed to get out without our securing him. I do remember crying and feeling so worried about our never-went-out-before, declawed-in-the-front, little orange cat. I thought almost certainly that we wouldn’t see him again. Being nearly nine months pregnant, I was sent inside to rehydrate and have something to eat, and to calm down. I could hardly eat a bite, I was in such distress.
As I finished up my little snack, V. came in…with Larry! It was surely a miracle! V. found him a few houses down the street, lounging in a sunny spot of a neighbor’s driveway. Joy, relief, peace! That night, my water broke. Even my physician husband gives a lot of credit to Larry’s escapades for bringing me into labor a week and a half early!
Larry’s life in our home has been very quiet since then, seven and a half years ago. Coming to terms with his aging, and even hearing my sweet boy say tonight about our kitty’s odd behavior, “I hope this isn’t his end,” have been tricky. The kids have not really experienced the death of someone really close to them. I know humans and animals are different, but I also know that the kids really do adore our Larry.
Larry jumped off of my lap a few minutes ago. I have never been so happy to watch him drink, or crunch on some Meow Mix, or hear him scratching in his litter box. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him, and I hope we can always care for him well, and enjoy every fur-filled second of his time with us. My dark blue jeans are coated in orange cat hair. I’m not lint-rolling it off, yet.