Opinion: Cats never say goodbye

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Commentary by Ward Degler

I’ve never owned a kitty cat. Many have graced my life, slept on my bed and lounged on my windowsill. But, unlike dogs, ownership is not something cats subscribe to.

The minute you get a dog, he says, “I’m yours, feed me.” Cats, on the other hand, make it clear from the start that they are just passing through. Any relationship you have with a cat is temporary.

Another odd thing, I remember how each dog we’ve had has died. I recall the memorial services and even a few marked graves.

Cats never say goodbye. No matter how long they’ve been with you, one day you look around and they’re gone.

We always had both cats and dogs when I was growing up. The dogs were loyal. The cats were indifferent. They liked us OK, purred in our laps and meowed for attention. But it was always on their terms.

Another thing, while we would deliberately go look for a dog, either at a kennel or the pound, cats just showed up on our doorstep.

Having said this, some remarkable cats have tiptoed through my life. Burke was solid black with a white tip on his tail. I called him Burke because that seemed to be the only meow he knew by heart. He liked to watch me shave. He’d hop up on the sink and make a note of every razor stroke. When I finished and put the razor away, he jumped down and padded off toward other pursuits.

Sylvester was the spitting image of the cartoon cat. I expected him at any moment to say, “Suffering succotash!” He never did, but he looked as though he could.

Shortly after we moved here, an orange tabby with a family of kittens wandered into my garage one day and thought it the perfect place to set up housekeeping.

For a while we had 13 cats in and out of the house. Fortunately, a friendly farmer with a mouse problem took them off our hands. Some time later he mentioned that they had all disappeared.

Rooky was all thumbs and had four left feet. Poor kitten couldn’t get the hang of any of the normal things cats do. She tripped over her own feet and repeatedly fell off the sofa.

Minky was our last cat. Strangely, she did say goodbye. She stayed with us for 12 years. I had built her a box to sleep in, and every morning she would emerge, stretch and announce she was ready for breakfast.

Then, one morning she didn’t come out. She had died in her sleep sometime during the night.

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