Most pet owners will agree that their pets are much more than just animals. They are beloved members of the family. The loss of a family member, even when it is a pet, is never easy to deal with. It feels even worse when it occurs during the holiday season.
Our family cat “Green Eyes” passed away shortly before Christmas this year. She left us with a lot of memories
She came to our back door as a small kitten almost 14 years ago. She appeared to be lost and I could see that she was very hungry. We were living in Wichita at the time, and I just didn’t have the heart to turn her away, so I got her a bowl of milk.
My wife warned me that if I started feeding her, we’d end up keeping her. I assured her that I didn’t want a cat and she would not be allowed to stay. Our little dog had just passed away, and I wasn’t ready for another pet.
My five-year old son immediately connected with the little animal, and because of her deep green eyes, began calling her “Green Eyes.” The name stuck, and so did the cat. My wife’s predictions came true. Green Eyes joined our family.
We didn’t know that the little kitten had been implanted with an identification chip. Several weeks later the owner managed to track her down and came to our house with documentation to prove her ownership. That was a very sad day for us. But when the owner saw the connection we had made with the small cat she decided to let us keep her.
After moving with us from Wichita to Ark City, the little cat took over our basement, making it her domain. That cat knew every nook and cranny of that area. She loved going into the spooky crawl spaces that I went out of my way to avoid. I suspect she prowled those areas as a hunter. During the 12 years we have lived here, we have never seen a trace of a mouse.
Once in a while she would sneak out of the basement and explore the upstairs. But she was never comfortable there. She was always glad to get back into her own little world. When a small dog joined our family, Green Eyes made it very clear that she ruled the basement, and she was not afraid to defend her kingdom.
During her basement tenure, that little kitten grew into a enormous, fat and sassy cat. She was also very affectionate, and would seek us out the moment we stepped through the basement door. She usually met us at the top of the steps. My wife always said the cat was trying to kill her by tripping her as she made her way down with a load of laundry.
Actually, she just wanted our attention, and she had the loudest purr I have ever heard. She loved being petted and played with, but she was also a bit temperamental.
She would become quite resentful and vindictive if her litter box wasn’t kept to her liking. She would express her displeasure by “doing her business” in areas where we would be sure to notice.
While the basement served as our laundry and storage area, it also served as a playroom for our youngest. He spent a lot of time down there, playing with his cars and his trains.
If Green Eyes became really upset with us over her litter box, or if she didn’t like her food, she’d climb up on his train table and leave a few surprises. More than once we had to totally sanitize the basement, until we finally learned how to stay in her good graces.
We never knew where she was going to be when we went into the basement. She might be on top of a load of clean blankets, or back in the crawlspace, or lying in some hidden spot close to the furnace. She wasn’t always easy to find, especially when she didn’t want to be found.
I remember one day when the basement door to the outside was left open and she came up missing. After a thorough search of the basement and the rest of the house, we were pretty sure she had gotten out. This concerned us because she had only been outside a couple of times her entire life.
We searched everywhere. We drove around the neighborhood. We put notices on Facebook. We checked with the animal shelter, but she was not to be found. We felt very sad as we thought about all of the terrible things that might have happened to her.
It had been almost a week since she disappeared. A can of tuna in the basement hadn’t been touched, so we knew she was gone. We had eventually accepted the fact that she was gone and tried to move on.
One day I took some laundry to the basement, and suddenly I heard a faint meow. Sure enough, there she was, coming out from the crawlspace. She’d been in the basement the entire time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pet her or pound her. Apparently she’d just been in one of her ‘I don’t need you right now” moods, and ignored our calls.
As the years passed by she began to show her age. She became much less active, and began to lose weight. She no longer ventured into the crawl space, or made the climb up the stairway to meet us. But she never stopped loving us.
I think she knew that her time was near. Even our little dog seemed to sense that something was wrong and was very gentle with her.
During her last days, she slept a lot. When she was awake, she wanted to be close to us. We knew time was running out when she allowed us to bring her upstairs. We knew we were losing her. She had lived a good, long life, but we knew we would miss her. She was a much-loved member of our family.
It’s been several weeks since her death, and I still find myself looking for her as I go downstairs. Sometimes I actually think I hear her. My wife says that while Green Eyes may be gone physically, she is almost sure her spirit is still roaming around that basement.
As I walk through the basement, I find myself thinking my wife might be right. Somehow it just feels like that silly cat is curled up someplace watching and ignoring us. It would not surprise me one bit if she were.
Goodbye Green Eyes, we miss you!