This has not been a good month for the cats that make their home with me. All was going well. JV, the most recent addition, was convincing Heidi, the crazy semi-feral cat, that I wasn’t going to eat her and Tracey was muddling along after marking her 21st birthday with a round of jello shots (no, I’m only kidding about that!). Then, JV’s kidneys gave out on him - I think he was older than he looked - and on Tuesday of this week, Tracey died.
I adopted Tracey and her brother Butch (who died a week after Thanksgiving in 2007) as kittens from a farm in Atlanta. They were complete farm cats - they had never been inside a building much less used a litterbox. They hid under my clawfoot bathtub for weeks after I got them and litterbox training was a struggle. I remember crying and thinking that I had made a huge mistake. But then a miracle happened - they started using the box as god intended and they allowed me to pet them. Soon, we were three of a kind, Butch and Tracey curled up together and me right alongside.
We went through a lot together. After Atlanta there was DC (where Butch spiked me while I was sleeping and I was too exhausted to get up and clean the wound - I still have a scar), Ft. Wayne (where Butch slashed me across the eye accidentally and I thought I had gone blind - another scar), Akron, Sarasota, Akron, Lakewood, Kent, and Akron again. It got so that if they saw the carrier after I had pulled out the moving boxes, they started to shudder. They had to deal with my crazy theatre hours and my major life change when I went back to grad school and on to WKSU.
Somewhere along the way, we established routines. Tracey would sleep on the bed with me each night and sit with me in the morning. Butch would watch TV with me at night. They ate a variety of dry food, but insisted on Nine Lives tuna - nothing else and no other brand. Tracey loved milk (I still have a half-gallon of lactose-free milk if anyone wants it). Butch threw up - a lot. And I’m not really sure how to live my life without them. Now that Tracey’s gone, I can leave doors open and go out after work if I want. I don’t have to make last-minute runs to the grocery store because I’ve miscounted the cans of tuna. There is only one working litterbox in the house, and young, healthy cats are so much easier to deal with on this front, it’s like almost not having any.
And I miss it. All of it. I have to clean the surfaces of my house and really scrub off from Tracey’s dying days, but I’m pretty sure the new cat countdown has already started.