My cat meows a lot these days. She is getting old, older than old. I never remember exactly how old she is — I’m bad with dates and numbers. This cat came to us from friends who were moving away and couldn’t take her with them. I don’t remember when they moved, either. When it came time for her first check-up, I took her to the same vet that the friends had used, and the office had the cat’s birth year on file. Each year when I return for her annual vaccinations, I have to ask the vet to look up how old my cat is. Each year, I quickly forget the exact number. I know she’s older than twelve, maybe older than fifteen. Or maybe it’s her weight? She was heavier than thirteen pounds on one visit, but that was several years ago. She feels lighter now, and she is starting to look thinner. She’s turning into a skinny old lady cat. She certainly meows like one.
I know the cat is not as old as my daughter, because of a single photo. My child is lying on the floor, taking a nap with her blankie, and lying next to her is our previous cat. He was mostly white, with patches of brown and black, perhaps enough to qualify as calico but I never really thought of him that way. Stretched out beside the toddler for his own nap, he is almost the same length as she. My daughter can’t really remember having this cat, but she is fond of this picture of herself with him. He got sick while we were still living in our previous house, and died in surgery. It was sudden and unexpected, and we didn’t really say good-bye.
The female black cat didn’t come into our lives until my daughter was in elementary school and we had moved to a rental duplex. When I signed that lease, I was still mourning the previous loss and said I had no intentions of getting another pet. The landlord did not approve of pets. Later, when our friends were thinking of moving, I took their kitten in, knowing that I would be breaking the terms of my lease. I said it could only be a temporary solution, and that I was going to find someone else to adopt the cat. For whatever reason, I never even tried. I hid the evidence when the landlord dropped by on one occasion, but got caught by a second surprise inspection. We were forced to move out the next month, and the black kitten became our black cat at a new house which allowed pets.
And now my daughter is in college, and the cat is very old. She sleeps on my legs at night, and sits on my lap as I watch television. She wants to be held while I work at the computer, but settles for a box on the floor nearby. I don’t know anything about caring for a very old cat. I hope she’s happy spending her days and nights this way. All she can tell me is, “Meow.”