Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Sunday night, I got word from Missouri that my cat had died. To say I was upset over the news is a massive understatement.
Ping was 13 years old. I got him when I was 10 years old. He was six weeks old and itty bitty. Bright yellow, too. Not the smooth chocolate coloring he sported for the past few years.
And unlike most of the animals that had existed in my home until that point, this one was mine. He inherited his mother's looks, a dark-colored Himalayan named Ling, but his stray tom father's shorter hair, so I just named him Ping. It ended up suiting him, as he bounced off the walls like a ping-pong ball as a kitten and young cat. I took to calling him Ping-Pong or Ping.
He was an affectionate cat. But he wasn't a pushy-lovey cat. He'd walk up and nudge your hand and then just lay down next to you and wait to be noticed, content just to be close to you until you saw him and scratched behind his ears.
My dad made the decision to have him declawed at the same time we got him fixed: early on. So while lacking sharp pointies with which to gouge at an annoyance, he still packed a hell of a punch. Literally. On more than one occasion in the past couple of years when Daniel would get a hold of his tail, he'd turn around and plant a firm slap upside his head to get his attention, and in that moment of infant confusion, Ping would haul ass.
As he got older, he became more affectionate. He would spend hours parked on the arm of the couch next to me as I surfed the internet or read or watched a movie, or across the back of my giant black chair.
This cat went through a lot with me. When I first moved out of my dad's house and in with my first boyfriend, he moved with me nine times in a year and a half. Nine times. For about eight months there was another kitten I called Squeaker, do to her very high pitched squeak of a voice, that he tolerated well enough, sometimes even allowing her to curl up close and snuggle against him for warmth.
When I was 19, I made the decision to move to Missouri, and my dad had joked at the time "I'll ship you along too, if it will get rid of that damn cat of yours." Dad wasn't fond of Ping because he went after Dad's many birds. Didn't have claws, but he'd slap a bird stupid, hard enough to stun and sink his teeth in. Never say that he was hindered by not having any front claws.
Ping went to Missouri, all right, same as I did: cramped and uncomfortable for twelve hours in the back of a 2-door Chevy Cobalt. I'm not a tiny girl, and while I didn't have a whole lot of things to move, it still filled what little cargo space was available. Ping's cat carrier was crammed half in the back window of the car, the other half resting on top of a giant box of small odds and ends on the back seat next to me. He cried the whole way there; my roommates were not pleased about that.
Once we made it and got settled in, he became part of the household: and we had a household. A bunch of young adults, pretty much striking out on their own in a college town, banded together as peers, and a gay cat. Oh yeah. The shenanigans that ensued. He made himself very popular amongst my roomies, with his stunning personality and vocal opinions. Damn near every one that came into contact with him fell instantly in love with him. Redhead used to sing his praises often, stating that he was everything people liked to have in a pet cat: affectionate, not reclusive, liked to sit in windows and be visible, inquisitive, and vocal about his wants, needs, and desires.
Of course, once I moved out of the big house with numerous roommates and in with the Redhead, I really did learn what hardship was. I spent a summer basically squatting in a house with no power and no gas, no money for food, and Ping was left to scavenge. I got a job, Redhead went back to work after being laid off in the summer, and we both relocated to stay with a friend so we'd have power and a way to survive until we had enough money saved up for a new place to live. Our friend was very anti-cat, and Ping had to stay behind in the dead house. I visited often and brought him food once I started getting paychecks, and he cried whenever he heard me walking up and cried as I walked away. It was enough to break my heart.
Ping survived my pregnancy, when I was an unholy demon to any who came near me. The entire nine months of hell, he slept curled up on my pillow around my ears. I was grateful for the extra warmth; it was a winter pregnancy. Thaaaat sucked.
I spent a lot of time laying around the apartment that winter, absorbed in loud music and those strange thoughts that highly hormonal women think. And Ping would lay nearby, just purring contentedly while I stroked a hand up and down his back. On more than one occasion, especially when I started approaching ginormous sizes, he would lean over and sniff at my stomach, twitching his long, white whiskers whenever my gut twitched at him.
When Daniel was born, the apartment was suddenly full of ten tons of baby stuff and a screaming wiggly pink thing and OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON! It rolled right off his back. The first couple weeks Daniel was home, he slept in the bed with me. Ping stood watch at the foot of the bed, with his very regal pose. Redhead and I usually ended up with almost opposite hours, but he said that whenever he stuck his head in while I slept, Ping continued to sit.
That cat was a very big part of my life. He was there through everything I went through, all the ups and all the downs. Pretty much the only real constant thing in my life since I was 15. I called him my first-born fur ball for a reason.
Safe journey, big guy. Momma misses you.
Blithely created by Snarky at 9:08 PM