Remembering Baby the cat

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

 

About 14 years ago, I was walking down the sidewalk in a small Northeast Indiana town on my way back from a reporting assignment.

The nice thing about working in a small town was I could walk nearly everywhere. On one of those walks, just a few blocks from the office, I heard what sounded like squeaking behind me. I turned to find a tiny orange and white kitten following me, yelling in his own way for my attention.

I stopped to pet the little guy and turned around to go on my way. I figured he would do the same, but he didn’t. Again, he ran after me, squeaking for attention using what I’m sure he thought was his best lion impression.
Clearly, he belonged to someone. I couldn’t imagine something so opinionated and demanding of a human could be on his own. I picked him up, carried him to a handful of houses nearby, and asked if anyone recognized him.

No one did, so I sat him down, figuring he would then head home. As I continued my walk to work, however, he had his own plan in mind. So as I sat at my desk that day and typed my story, so did he. Occasionally, he would jump up on my desk and place his paw over my hand, asking for attention. Other times, he would relish at the attention he received from co-workers.

At the end of the day, I gave it one more attempt, walking around the nearby neighborhood where I found him – or rather he found me – without any luck of locating his owner.

Before I took him home with me, I put a couple classified found ads in the weekend paper, and told myself if I hadn’t heard anything by Monday I would take him to the humane society.

That Monday came and went, but the orange and white tabby I eventually named Baby never left my side.

Awhile back, I wrote about having to say goodbye to our greyhound. This past week we had to say goodbye to Baby as well. At 14, his body gave out and succumbed to pancreatitis and most likely liver failure as well. We had sought emergency care for him, but it wasn’t enough.

We technically may be pet owners, but anyone who has ever had a pet knows it’s more like the other way around.

Baby pretty much ran the house. He slept next to me each night with his head on my pillow. Toward the end, he transitioned his whole body to my pillow, just above my head as I was relegated to scrounging for a pillow corner.

When he wanted attention, he made it known, either with a firm head-butt or simply a dominating stare. Any time our dog walked by him, he would bat him on the head, just because.

My dog may not miss those moments, but I especially miss his little warm body next to me at night, even if it meant I had a little less room and a lot less pillow.

As pet owners, we prepare ourselves for what we know will be an eventual loss. We more than likely will outlive our pets and even may face the decision of when it will be time for our pets’ lives to come to a close.

No matter how much we prepare as their fur gets a little grayer and their step a little slower, it doesn’t make the day when we have to say goodbye any easier.

Today I picked up his ashes from the vet, and as I walked out, held them close to my chest. He was back home with me.

In a sympathy card I received in the mail from a veterinarian, it said, “Our pets never really leave us. They live on in memories of the love and devotion they gave us.”

Thanks, Baby, for the 14 years of memories. You are missed.
Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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1 COMMENT

  1. What a beautiful tribute to a true friend, buddie and pal for many years. I’m sure “Baby” knew what he was doing that day when he followed Christine = I think he knew it was a “rest of his life” deal. I loved your story Christine and I’m sure you were a real pal to “Baby”….

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