Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Cats of My Life: Georgie


Cats paid a huge role in my development. In fact, the grief therapist I went too after my little tuxedo babe died said it was unusual, but it sounded like the cat was my mother. The therapist I had afterward agreed - Penny showed me love and raised me. Some of the Tall Tales of America have people raised by wolves but no, I was raised by an eleven pound former street cat named Penny.

However, it’s not time for her story yet.

Georgie was a tortoiseshell kitty. This means she was a mishmash of dull oranges, greys and black with no white whatsoever. My mother had the cat since she was nineteen and it was a connection to not just her past life without children, but to her ex-husband, her single life, her days as a dog breeder. From the beginning of time for me there was Georgie as a loved member of the family, but to hear my mother’s story, that’s not the way it started.

“I hated cats,” she said. “I raised German Shepherds. They are great dogs, so intelligent. They can climb fences you know?” she’d ask waiting for my brother and I to nod in shared knowledge. “I had to put fences six feet up with a roof. And then those dogs, they learned how to dig under it! So I had to put the fences deep into the earth too!” She’d chuckle after that, a tear streaming down her face. It wasn’t that funny, I think it was a tear of loss for her dogs. They behaved better than children, that was something else she always said.

“The trouble is, when you have so many dogs, you get rats.” She’d continue. “So I had to get rid of the rats, so I found Georgie. She was such an ugly cat. No pattern, just splotches. I took her in – she could eat the rats. That was what she was there for. I never even fed her.”

At that point we’d look at Georgie who was always wherever my mother was. The cat looked up at her with eyes glazed in love, my mom looked down with wistfulness and devotion. She adored the cat and we all knew it, she did everything for that cat. There were days we wished she would touch us as gently as she did Georgie.

“She was good, that one. A hunter. She knew how to kill and kept the rats out. And I don’t know how, but somewhere along the line she started coming into the house. I remember one night, your father and I were in bed sleeping and Georgie comes in, dragging something on the bed. Lays it right on my feet. She’s sitting there smiling and I feel the wet. I shoot straight up and look down at my feet – it’s a dead rabbit. I start screaming. But now I know it was love. She killed it for me, and I responded wrong.”

All through our childhood there was Georgie. There were the times I (unsuccessfully) tried to give her a bath. There were times she’d come in from the outdoors with a smile on her face and a feather on her whisker and outside I’d find just the bones of a bird. I remember finding the heart once, asking my mother what it was. How my mother would smile. “It must have flown into her open mouth,” she’d chuckle, “Georgie’s too fat to catch a bird nowadays!”

When we packed up and moved cross country my mother drove and we stayed at campgrounds. In the car were the three of us and Georgie. Wherever we went, there she was. It was a constant.

My mother often joked that Georgie was my first word. I’d believe it. As much as that cat loved my mom, she was great around us kids. I don’t remember her scratching me at all, there are no trauma stories from her. In fact, for the most part when Georgie was around or in my mom’s lap my mother was calm.

I remember once, when my family was still together, we were having a nice breakfast. My father had made scrambled eggs. Suddenly, with a fork full in my mouth, I had to sneeze. I turned just in time and sneezed, eggs flew out in a nice spray. Georgie was walking by the stove. As she ran out of the room we all laughed at the cat outline done in scrambled eggs against the stove.

My mother had gotten the cat when she was nineteen, and had Georgie for nineteen years. She had Georgie through two husbands, two children, and three different states. I remember when Georgie first started to get sick. She walked around the house yowling and bumping into things. The vetinarian said she had gone blind. We had to keep the house super clean after that, but never seemed to get it clean enough. It was three people in a small apartment to begin with. Then one day I came home and found Georgie sleeping in a pan of grease on top of the stove. I was terrified. We learned that she had the equivalent of Alzheimers. She was seeking warmth and couldn’t tell the wet. If she had flicked her tail into the pilot light there would have been an end to her, as well as our little place we tried to call home. The vet suggested. . . .

My mother cried. As I looked into her eyes it seemed like there was an infinite depth as big reflective tears pooled and fell down her reddening cheeks. Georgie was a living chronicle of her life and her pain. She embodied the good times and the bad. She was her constant companion and the one who gave her the unconditional life she craved.

We planned one last day. It was sunny and the daffodils were in bloom. My mother took Georgie outside to roam in the grass. She lay in the sun, raised her fuzzy muzzle to the sky and smiled. The next day was the end. I don’t remember where she was buried. No one in our family believed in cremation of animals. In Arizona we had a little spot in our yard where our pets were buried. But we were in New York now. I think she ended up in the backyard of my mom’s foster sister, someone we later never spoke to again.

Shadows boldly stepped out into the light after Georgie died.


Picture taken from:
http://cats.about.com/od/catspicturecalendar/ig/Tortoiseshell/Pif.htm

4 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

AAAAHHHHHHHH...I LOVE cats and we used to have one.

WOW, Georgie did live SO long, eh? Too bad he had Alzheimer. I didn't know cats could get Alzheimer!!! Gee...scary indeed!!!

My cat died when he was only a few years old. He got sick and couldn't eat and then one day decided to go out to die in peace somewhere. We didn't even know where he went to. He sort of said goodbye to us in his sad state and begged me to open the door. So I did.

We all shed some tears as he was such a CUTE and FUN and CLEVER cat. He never grew into adulthood. His body remained semi-small his entire life. Ahhh...such fond memories. Pets do have their own important roles in life, eh?

Looking forward to reading more of your posts. :-)))

Victorya said...

Cats are wonderful creatures, aren't they? I'm sorry to hear about yours, but he knew and said his goodbyes, hopefully you have the closure needed. And you opened the door and had the strength to let him go.

I look forward to your comments Amel, I'm glad you like my posts!

Amel's Realm said...

Yeah, cats are wonderful and I'm amazed that they have different personalities he he...

Funny thing is that usually people either love or hate cats. Half of my close friends love 'em and the other half hate 'em. :-)))

Chewy said...

I swear my cat could feel my emotions. He knew just when I needed a furry warm hug. I miss him. He's buried in the backyard with a small black cat statue on top of the spot.