Can one respect a cat? I know people love their pets, and some people adore their pets, but do we ever respect them for specific traits like we do some humans? I’ve taken on many cats over the last couple of years. Most are cats that have been abandoned, or ones that never had a human companion to love them. My cat Venture, however, is one I’ve had since her birth. I also have two of her siblings. They were born one week to the day, March 29, 2003, after my dad passed away from cancer.
My girl, Venture, is sick. We don’t know what’s causing her illness, and I’ve spent all the money I have to spend to diagnose and treat her. She was admitted to the veterinary clinic on Thursday. Today, I brought her home. I wanted her to be in familiar surroundings; to be able to smell the familiar scents; sleep in familiar spots; feel the touch of my fingers scratch her chin; see the people and pets that she knows. This feels like a hospice case.
Something different has happened since I’ve brought her home. It goes beyond the human-cat bond. It’s a variation on the love a human has for their pet. Venture is taking me to a place I’ve not been before when facing a dying cat or dog. That place is respect. Respect for the character and demeanor of the individual. This cat is the most patient cat I’ve ever been around. The vet techs were impressed with her calm demeanor; her patience; and her cool character. As I’ve interacted with her today she has been both mildly distressed (when I had to clean her after bowel movement), and patient with me when I administered her medications. She has been loving when I’ve lied next to her to pet her and do the thing she loves the most; scratch her beneath her chin. Venture has always been a calm and laid back cat, but with her illness I’ve seen a calm cat be an extraordinary cat. I’ve entered a place where my pragmatism tells me I’m caring for a dying companion, yet I hope for her to rebound. I grasp that death comes to all of us and that we cannot stop it or escape it. Acceptance. I’ve not shed many tears yet. So many stressors have happened in the last couple of weeks that maybe I’ve simply blocked some of my typical emotional responses. I’m at a point where I’ve accepted that her time on earth may be near an end. Maybe a few days; maybe a few weeks.
However this event turns, Venture has taken me to a place of respect because of her traits. Patience with humans; tolerance with other cats that I’ve brought into our home; the specific look in her eyes when she sees me petting one of the other cats and turns to walk away; (before she was sick) a resignation of being stuck with needles to draw blood, administer fluids, and having pills shoved down her throat; and for her simple ability to purr when I scratch her chin. Through it all she has simply been Venture. The calmest cat I’ve had the pleasure of ever having in my life.