A Tribute to Our Roosevelt
Beth Innis, DVM
You came in as a stray found at Horne Pond. You were intact, a generous build, gray and white, with the softest fur I had ever felt. My father in law was lonely and cat-less, so I decided I’d adopt you, neuter you and he would take you in. That was that.
Worrying about how you would get along with our current sassy-pants, Churchill, I set up an elaborate protocol of introduction. You both looked at me like I was missing a few marbles, and set to work in building the strongest alliance I’d seen in our home before. You were quiet, he was loud, you were unassuming, he was demanding. I didn’t hear a peep from your mouth. You always used the box, I mean, you were a gentleman after all.
The day came to go to Grandpa’s. We were happy for you and so happy for him, he was a cat lover and book lover, with a quiet home made for cats. However.
You began yelling at him.
You began ripping up his papers.
You began peeing on his things <gasp>.
“He seems lonely, “ Grandpa said. “I think he misses your house.” With graciousness and insight, he advocated for your little feline needs, I cried my eyes out to my sisters in laws, feeling like my matchmaking was making a mess of things. And off you came back home with us.
Never again did you yell (well, until much later). Never again did you rip anything up. Never again did you pee on things.
You and Churchill would sit on the dining room chairs and we would chuckle that there was a Meeting of the Allies. You would snuggle on the couch, steal the baby chairs for their warmth, overeat together, train the dogs together. You loved Duke, our big chocolate lab, the very most. You would try so hard to snuggle his front legs and nuzzle his chin, much to his abject terror.
And that is how, you, our quietest, most discreet pet, continued on for years and years. You watched from high on the stairs, from high on a book shelf as our two daughters were born, we moved from house to house to house to yet another house. You accepted it quietly and with grace, when Churchill left us for the Stars. You supported us all when the dogs disappeared to them as well. You looked on, with some amount of disagreement, as their places were infused with more rascally dogs and, and one very old, matronly cat. You always played it safe and fled to the farthest corner of the house rather than have an argument with any of those yahoos.
You became a bit skinny over time, had a harder time getting on your bookshelves. Your heart struggled, your kidneys slowed, and your hearing was lost. That is when you turned from our quiet guy to our loud guy. By then, the daughters were 10 and 12, and would come running to check on you, refresh your bowls and spoil you with kisses and petting.
This past year in lockdown for the pandemic, seemed to be your favorite yet. Tom was home in “your” office. You would Zoom bomb to everyone’s delight and lighten the meetings and the tough times. Tom, your absolute favorite guy was always at the ready for a snuggle and a complement on your excellent manners and hygiene.
I could see your light begin to fade before anyone else did. No amount of medicines and herbs and needles and adjustments could dull the pain in your handsome body. Nothing tasted that good anymore. You strode around, accepting all the pets, but you needed more and more sleep. You got a little confused, but not worried. Even the dogs started to be gentler. We started to talk amongst ourselves. The daughters, who had never known a day without you, but had known loss, understood in their wise ways. Churchill’s ghost hovered around me to rattle me into action.
The last night, I slept in your office, and you played with some catnip, as if to prove you were still there. The next day, we all came together, surrounded you with our hearts bursting with love and sent you off on your next mission. I hope our tears helped wash away the last bits of pain.