And squirrels, and rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, hamsters, goats, horses, turtles, you name it. But never a cat. We weren't "cat people."
Or so I thought. Then this precious little guy came into my life. He had a rough start to life before I
Determined not to be one of those people. I declared that my cats would not get on the furniture, certainly not on the counters! Ha! I soon learned that you don't tell a cat what to do. As with all my animals, I lived with him for a bit before bestowing a name on his fuzzy little head. Tried out a few, and then, one day as he was sauntering into the kitchen (this cat is prone to saunter) I surprised myself by exclaiming, "Well, hello there Hank!" And so he became forever Hank.
From the get go, Hank was My Cat. He loved me best and I him. I'd always wanted a pet all of my own and Hank gladly filled that role. Initially he and his sister slept in the living room in a crate. But one night, as he was crying pitifully, I decided to let him sleep with me for just this one night. And that little ball of orange fur has slept with me every night since, snuggled right up next to me in the crook of my right arm, his soft head nestled on my shoulder, purring himself to sleep right in my ear.
I always say, he stood in the Pretty Line twice; he's not super smart. But he's sweet and he's strong. He can open any door or cabinet in the house. And I often come home to find every door and cabinet open! However, if it closes behind him, he can't get out. There have been several times I've come home to hear muffled meowing coming from the recycling bin. Who knows how long he's been sitting in there? Bless his fuzzy little heart.
We've been through a lot together, me and Hank. Hank, Hanky, Hank Bank, sometimes Frank, Shoog Boog (short for Sugar Bear, duh) or My Special Little Guy, he knows I'm talking to him. I cannot tell you how much comfort and joy this cat has brought me over the years.
Precocious, he has climbed up in the attic on more than one occasion.
Always by my side, he keeps me company on the floor when I stretch after my run.
Hank has been feeling puny over the past few weeks. Several trips to the vet yielded no answers. Until, until he finally got sick enough that it was clear. Recently he was diagnosed with renal failure. And last Friday he was admitted to the cat hospital for the weekend. It broke my heart to leave him there, scared and alone. I visited him often, just holding him and reassuring him that it was going to be okay.
But I knew that it most likely was not.
And yesterday I made the toughest decision a pet owner ever must make.
I love you Hank. You were my first cat and you changed my life. The house, and my life, aren't the same without you. You've left a big, stripey orange hole in my heart. I'll miss you terribly little buddy, especially at night when there is no gentle purring to lull me to sleep.
Thank you for teaching me to love like it's my job.
Because it is.