I'm a dog lover. Been one my whole life. We had one cat back when I was a kid. Briefly had a cat, that is. We were dog people. I am still one.
Having said that, I was deeply saddened earlier this week to say a permament goodbye to one of the world's great cats, "Maggie" Madaris. She was 17.5 years old, was part of our family for most of that time, and will be missed.
Today has been a day of clear mental images, memories from these past 17+ years. I still remember my little pre-schooler coming home from the USM Ctr for Child Dev'mt, looking up at me with his big beautiful eyes, and shyly saying, "um, Dad? Can we get a cat?" (oh, like you could've said no to those cute eyes...)
Maggie was actually a replacement cat. The initial baby kitten didn't last long...tragic choice to nibble on a power chord...But Maggie the replacement cat was a few months older & wiser when she arrived here.
She was painfully shy. Hid from us for the first number of days she was here. She was accidentally let outside by a houseguest the first couple of days she lived here, whereupon she instantly disappeared. But my wife and my son had faith that she would return (I didn't have that faith, frankly)...and after a day or two, we heard her under our deck. Lured her back inside. Whereupon she began to trust us.
She never liked company very much though. Would always hide under a couch when guests arrived. And re-appear immediately upon their departure.
She dearly loved us, even as we dearly loved her. Another clear mental image is 1.5-year-old Anne carrying her like a log...front legs over one of Anne's arms, back legs over the other. And Maggie just was her quiet self. With the occasional "get me out of here!" meow...
She had a very soft, gentle demeanor. And so help me, she came across as maternal. James & I used to go fishing in the canoe in the lake behind the house. Maggie would follow us to the lake and stand there sticking her paw into the water and just fussing at James & me. We could hear her all the way across the lake. (another abiding mental image)
Her demeanor was tested when a second kitten arrived a couple of years later. Molly (the black cat in the pictures) was smaller than Maggie, but much fiestier & more aggressive. Maggie was usually patient, but we did hear the occasional hiss followed by a swat...they became friends. Mostly.
And then Sam the very friendly puppy arrived, further testing Maggie's patience. They became friends too. Eventually. Sam learned to be very gentle & tender with Maggie, as this picture attests. The meanest I've heard Sam sound was the few times a rogue Tom cat would get after Maggie. He'd go tearing out of the house, growling & barking...presently, Maggie would come trotting in unharmed, with Sam following shortly thereafter.
Maggie loved the Christmas tree every year. She would climb up into it in her early years; in later years, she settled for the skirt around the tree base.
She loved to cuddle, albeit on her terms and on her schedule.
These last several months have been hard to watch & experience. I'll not elaborate. I prefer the other memories above.
So, earlier today she & I took the longest trip to the Vet that we've ever taken. I came back alone.
It was absolutely the right move, but dadburn was it hard.
I'm still a dog guy...but I will cherish the memory of a beautiful, gentle white cat who blessed our lives for a long time.
R.I.P., Maggie. We love you!