Sunday, August 9, 2009
Cleo's been gone for about six months, now. Cleo was the feral kitten that we had rescued off of our roof top almost two years ago. Our dogs have access to the backyard all day, so we couldn't really train Cleo to be an indoor cat. Cleo and the dogs tolerated each other and even slept together sometimes. There wasn't any canine-feline conflict, so that wasn't' the reason he was gone.
One day he just didn't come back home. We knew it was a risk we were taking, having an outdoor, free-ranging cat.
I wasn't as emotionally attached to Cleo as I am to the dogs, so I don't really miss him that much. But I do think of him often, more so for Domestic Partner's sake. He was the one who was attached to Kitty.
Cleo would show up at the same time, every day. After roaming the neighborhood all night, he would sneak into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as the coffee maker started dripping at 5:00 am, he would give a single "meow," letting us know that he was ready for his morning meal. Pavlov would have been proud.
"Kee-boo," as I had re-christened him, brought us gifts. One night, what I thought was a dead mouse on the patio turned out to be a temporarily traumatized dwarf hamster. Two days later, Cleo brought us a second rodent to keep the first one company. They are funny pets and they remind me of our lost kitty.
Domestic Partner misses the cat more than I do. He gets home from work first, and he is sad that Cleo is no longer around to greet him on the driveway. "Phantom Kitty" is what he used to call him since Cleo would materialize out of nowhere at the noisy, creaky opening of the garage each evening. And right before his evening meal.
Although Cleo knew it was time to eat when the coffee maker clicked on each morning, he was willing to wait a bit after his initial meow. Domestic Partner's alarm clock goes off five minutes after the coffee machine starts. The few minutes in between used to be Bonding Time for him and Cleo. The cat would sit on his chest and allow himself to be pet and scratched.
"Do you want another cat?" I have asked Domestic Partner, more than once. We have our pick since the feral felines in our neighborhood have a couple litters a year in or near our yard.
"No," he says each time. I know he really would like another one but our dogs have priority. We can't lock them indoors all day while we're at work, so we would be taking the same risk all over again with another cat.
We don't know what happened to Cleo and we're afraid to imagine. It's not like him to not come home. For all of his roaming around the neighborhood, we'd like to think that someone else took him in and trained him to be an indoor cat.
But we doubt it.
Rest in peace, Cleo. For all of your biting and clawing whenever we would play with you, we still miss you. You were a good pet. You made Domestic Partner happy, and that's what I miss about you the most.