The cat had been going senile for a year or two. The first signs were the poop outside the litter box, her eyes stopped blinking and held a constant wide eerie gaze, then the constant meowing started; calls for help we claimed were old age. She had always been so strange, it was all too easy to find her comical, but the poor thing wanted out. She would stand at the basement door, where she lived with my mother, and scritch endlessly at the wood. When it finally opened she would be restrained by a large hand against her flat drooling face. Gently the hand would push her back until she stepped away, offended. It only made sense she lost her mind in the end. We had no idea what her kitten-hood had been like, but we assumed it must have been tumultuous. She was adopted by us in a state of constant anxiety, and took to hiding underneath furniture for days on end so that we had to make a real effort to remember she existed at all. She came out once in awhile to piss on my bed sheets — most likely her first attempt at sending distress signals. She found no solace in petting or holding. I think she believed herself to be a tease, but wasn’t a very good flirt, as most cats tend to be. How were we to know what to do with a cat with a personality disorder?
Our next cat also lost his mind. His name was Puck, a Shakespearean reference by my mother, and he left scars on my arms that made the nurse at school call home. He was tiny when we got him, too young to be away from his mother. It was obvious he suffered from abandonment issues. We loved him as best we could, I loved him a little more because I was a kid, and he was a kitten, and I couldn’t help myself. It was my first abusive relationship. He got sick young , which made him go mad, and one day my Mom just took him outside and let him wander off. God knows what the poor thing did during his last days — finally freed when there was no good to come of it.
In fact my Mom let the first cat outside too. I wonder if they ever found each other. I’ve also come to question my mother’s coping capabilities.
I knew a cat called Mr. Kite that my friend got to take care of a mouse. It ended up terrorizing her dog more than securing anything, but my god, was that cat soft. He had the most well kept coat i’ve ever seen, pearly white with soft brown patches. He wasn’t an especially affectionate cat, but would sleep right in between your legs at night. Just recently he started pulling out all of his fur. It was unclear why, even after all of the tests. The doctors thought he had some sort of imbalance. They would give him medication, and he would lay there growling like an angry drunk for a couple hours, then go right back to chewing on himself. I connected with him on a very deep level, after all, we all self sabotage at one time or another.
My best friend Abigail always loved cats. When we were in second grade we both arrived to school crying one day, when asked why, I told the teacher my Mom had taken away my cat. I was referring to a Beanie Baby named Pounce. Abigail said that her mother had also taken away her cat. She was referring to her real life cat named Chester that had pooped on the carpet one too many times and had finally pushed all of its limits and had gotten the boot that morning. The shame I felt in that moment was the worst I had ever felt. That was then, as a second grader with very little life experience, and I still haven’t gotten over my embarrassment — I never cried over Beanie Babies ever again. Abigail’s cat Chester hung around their house for years until he eventually disappeared and we told ourselves some nice old woman had taken him in. Abigail never really forgave her mother, who would?