Last night, we sadly had to lay to rest my mother-in-law's cat, Guido. He was once our cat, so it was a time of grieving for us, especially for my husband. He asked to write the following guest-post as a tribute to Guido, and I gladly consented.
It was Boston, 1996. I'm not sure which of the kittens Sicily had first, but whichever one it was, she tried to have it on top of my roommate's belly as he slept on the couch. Half asleep, he set her down on the ground before he heard the squeak of protest and realized that the first of the kittens had been born in the middle of the living room. When my roommate told Sicily "you can't have those here!" she picked up her first offspring and ran off to have the rest on top of his dress pants. There were five in all. He was a little black puffball with a tiny shock of white on his chest.
He and his litter mates would sit in a semicircle watching my roommate and I play with a yoyo until the pressure became too much, and one of them would launch themselves forward to attack. The first time he tried, he misjudged the timing and clobbered himself on the yoyo as it came down.
He had a habit of hitting the water with his paw before he would drink. Sometimes he would stick his face in the bowl afterwards and get a noseful of water. Every time, he looked surprised. The ever-present puddles on the kitchen floor quickly became known as Lake Guido.
We never expected him to be a hunter. He was a big cat, like all his siblings save one, and you could actually hear him thump his way across the floor. But M saw him race across the back yard at top speed, and parade proudly past a moment later with a bird in his mouth.
Thanksgiving, 1998. Our landlord informed us he no longer wanted us to have cats. Guido went to live with my parents in Pittsburgh: 12 hours of traumatic car travel away. He spent most of the trip cramming himself under the passenger seat and refusing to come out.
He loved to ramble in the woods behind my parents' house. He would climb up a tree to the second floor and jump in through a window they left open for him. He chased a deer across the front lawn. Early in the mornings, he would keep my dad company before anyone else was up, and my dad would pet him and feed him treats when he thought nobody was looking. My dad's favorite trick was to line up pieces of cheese on the edge of the table. Guido would stretch himself up, hook each piece delicately with a claw, and pop it into his mouth.
2001. When we moved back to Pittsburgh, our lease didn't allow pets, but our landlords let us cat-sit him any time my mom was out of town. He would vanish under the bed, only emerging to eat and use the litterbox. For months after each time, he would eye us distrustfully every time we visited, wondering if we were going to take him somewhere in a car again.
Mom sold the house and moved to an apartment, and Guido became an indoor cat exclusively. Occasionally he would venture into the hall to investigate the smells under the neighbors' doors, but any noise would send him scuttling back to safety. As time went by, he got older and rounder. His tongue was almost smooth with age. He had trouble jumping up onto the bed, but he would climb onto the back of the sofa and comb my mom's hair with his claws. He began to forgive us for all the car rides, and even came out to greet us when we arrived.
Mom took him to the vet just the other week for constipation - they cleared out some impacted stool and gave him a gentle laxative. After that, he was more alert and active than he had been in a long time - almost like a kitten, she said.
Tonight, we went to pick him up and bring him back to stay with us while my mother was out of town. We found him half inside his cat bed, eyes almost closed, unmoving. We gathered his things, brought him back to the house, made the necessary calls, and laid him to rest.
In his fifteen years, he saw most of my adult life. He was there as I struggled to find my feet in a strange city. He was there when I met my wife, and when I lost my father. Now he's gone, and I'm lying awake trying to hold on to as many memories as I can.
Goodbye, Guido. I will miss you.