Cat Grieving

20160422_150516We lost our big a gray tom cat, Satchel, a few weeks back.  He went outside and never came back.  He wore an electric collar and had stayed in our yard for 13 years.

He started every spring, summer, and fall day the same.  Yowling at the front door until someone let him out.  He would hide in the front porch bushes catching lizards or bask in the morning sun.  Then he would sit on the red bench by the door and shout at the top of his lungs to come in.  He might have a sip of water or something to eat and then he would march to the back door meowing loudly until someone would let him out.

Once in back, he would patrol the yard all afternoon.  In the heat of the day, I could see him though the kitchen window lying under the high grass surveying his Savannah as if he were a lion surveying his territory.  We always got him back in before it was dark.  Then one night a few weeks back, he wasn’t there when I went to get him.  We looked everywhere and searched for days but he has not returned.

He’s been acting a little weird recently.  He had bitten me requiring a trip to the doctor.  He growled at my daughter, Kayla, when she tried to get him in while house sitting.  She said she wouldn’t deal with him anymore. It was her opinion that he was getting old and just wanted to be left alone to live his last few days or months outside.

Since we live in the foothills surrounding Boise, we know when a cat is gone; it is probably not coming back.  Our neighbors were out hiking once and found 17 cat collars in a coyote hole. Once outside the fence, Satch probably became one of the dinners of the many predators who share the hills with us including coyotes, foxes, owls, raccoons, and bobcats.

I have missed our big gray tiger cat.  He was such a character, directing us all with his loud shouting to be let in and out, then lazing around on the couch at night. In the winter, he chose not to go out at all and would frequently lay stretched out on the gas fire hearth for hours.  He was a big cat when he had his front paws stretched out and was lying flat he was almost four feet long.   He had beautiful coloring; big green cat eyes, like the marbles we played with as kids and matching gray/brown strips on his face that I would run my finger along.  They made me wonder how God created such perfect symmetry in nature.

I’ve looked up kittens online and my cleaning team has a worker who is trying to get rid of kittens but we won’t be getting another cat right now.  We’ve always had two cats since I’ve had children (25 years).  When I was single, I had a cat and a dog. It was much easier to handle one pet of each species traveling and housekeeping.

Now with the kids gone and just Pete and I in the house, I have resolved to go back to the one cat and one dog house.  We still have two dogs.  We won’t get rid of either but when I look at them I realize, just like Pete and I, they are getting older. We will be downsizing even if we don’t want to in the next few years. Dogs just don’t have a human life span.

I still have my daughter’s cat, Angel, around the house.  Angel has missed Satch the most.  This blog started as an effort to capture her grief.  But I realized one can’t understand Angel missing Satch without first understanding that Satch lived a big life.  He dominated the dogs, the cats and even the humans directing us to carry out his wishes.  We all understood his needs and wants. He enforced them with a huge unpleasant yowl.

I hope he had a joyous time out in the wild world beyond our yard before something caught up with him.  He was a man of action.  He would not have wanted a slow, belabored death.  Assuming my daughter is right, that he chose to go on his own terms, I wish him the best.  I want him to know he was a great family pet and he is missed.

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