Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Cat's Eulogy

He was carelessly tied to a barbeque stand in the midst of one of those fierce monsoons that usually hit our country midyear. The rope was tied so tight, he can barely move his neck, but meow he did, and this, he did with all his little cat heart. This was how my sister found him, soaking wet and freezing, barely able to stand, as he was just a wee kitten –how could anyone be so cruel as to subject such a small, unsuspecting creature to such a horrid, heartless condition? So my sister took him, cut his rope and wrapped him with her jacket, bundled him into her bag and brought him home.

When Oliver arrived at our house, he was a scrawny, smelly thing, barely out of drinking from his catmom’s tit. He had such large eyes for his diminutive body that they were the only features that were prevalent in his half-starved state, that and his protruding ribs. It was obvious that he wasn’t fed much and coupled with almost freezing to death; he looked like he wouldn’t make it, but we took him in anyway. However, despite and inspite of being in such a sorry state, upon arriving at our house, he looked about with such wonder with his large cat- stare that it was difficult to believe he didn’t have it in him to get better – bear in mind that this was a kitten who called attention to himself by mewling as loud as he can, through the howling winds of a Baguio Monsoon (if you’ve ever experienced typhoon season in Baguio, you’d know what I am talking about).

Oliver grew up to be a *excuse the cliché* very good cat. He was sweet and always liked being carried around and petted, unlike some of our other cats who preferred to be left alone. He wasn’t a choosy eater, and luckily, he wasn’t prone to disease either. In short, he was a perfect cat. I guess it was because we loved and showered him with so much attention that he flourished in his new surroundings. His coat was silky and shiny, and believe it or not, he grew to be the size of a small dog (which is actually big for a cat). His best feature really were his eyes, they were large green and lined with black that one could almost suspect he (and a cat at that!) applied eyeliner everyday (“catliner”, what a concept!). My younger sister’s classmates would always gasp in surprise when what they thought of as a stuffed toy would suddenly move and rub against their feet, asking in his cat-way to be carried and petted.

When I moved to Manila, Oliver would always be one of the reasons I’d look forward going home to. Whenever I’d step inside the gate, he’d always come to my arms, like I’ve never even left.

This is the first Christmas we’re going to spend at home without Oliver sitting on our sofa. Recently, he was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, cats get cancer too. It started to manifest as a little wound on his nose, nothing to be worried about initially. Cats get wounds all the time – especially if they were male and weren’t spayed, they’d have “alpha fights” and in a few days, the wound would scab over and heal. When the wound didn’t show signs of the usual healing, my older sister went to the vet and got some antibiotics so we could medicate him even from home. However, Oliver’s wound didn’t get better. Instead, it got worse. My sisters and I all live away from home so we had to hear of Oliver’s condition from our parents. The antibiotics weren’t doing anything to improve Oliver’s condition. Finally, Mom and Dad brought him to the vet and our worst fears were confirmed. There was a tumor growing on Oliver’s head and it got so bad that his eyes, throat and whole face were already affected. He couldn’t even eat solids anymore. So we had to make a difficult decision. Oliver was in so much pain, the only thing for him was to be put asleep. I wasn’t there when it happened. I heard Mom say it over the phone. I was on my way to the bank, and I suppose I looked like a total fool but I wasn’t able to hold back the tears. I/we, have lost a great, good friend who stayed with us for 8 wonderful years and I wouldn’t weep any less for him than I would for any of my human friends. He was a part of our family. Dad buried him behind our house; he wouldn’t leave him at the vet’s to be disposed of. I guess any pet owner could relate. Our pets are more than just animals – they are our childhood, they are we, sans all the complexities it takes to be human - our simple joys and the shoulders offered anytime to be cried on. They are our music, our bossom buddies. They are our prayers to God and the answers as well. They are our pets, but somehow, they are more than that.

I know Oliver led a good life. We gave him the best we could. Somehow I know he’s in a better place now but that doesn’t stop me from grieving. There’s just no getting over a good pet, harder still to let go of a great friend. We’ll miss you Oliver, goodbye.

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