My Sister’s Cats

July 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

After the weekend I had with animals, we were commiserating with our neighbor, eating ice cream in waffle comes, when the story of my sister’s cats came up, and I told it again to lighten our heavy hearts.

My sister left her cats with me once. I don’t think she will ever make that mistake again.

My sister, Leslie, was working in the Atlantic City casino industry when she and her husband of the time, Kenny decided to work a couple of seasons in the Bahamas. Ex-Pat living, collecting the same wage, but not responsible for the same level of taxation. An opportunity to live in a different country for a few years, and to save some money for a future back in the states.

Leslie had two cats: a female Calico named Speckles, and a B&W male named Katahdin, like the mountain in Maine. 

They were both indoor/outdoor cats, though Katahdin liked spending more time outdoors than Speckles did, and Katahdin was also a couple of years younger. Both were very personable, and Speckles enjoyed our company, day AND night. A slightly annoying habit of hers was she would walk around your head at night, and occasionally drool a bit of cat spittle on your face. My tolerance level being higher than Susan’s, this cat learned to only drool on me.

These were the old days, before cell phones, before e-mail, when good old letter writing was the norm for communications. I didn’t even have a phone number for Leslie at the time, but needless to say, I am not, nor was I ever much of a letter writer. My cousin Debbie and I wrote each other when we were younger, but I never had a writing relationship with anyone else, so it’s safe to say that I didn’t hear from Leslie, nor she from me for most of the time she was out of the country.

Turns out, there was a reason the cat drooled a lot. Turns out, that the poor thing had developed a tumor in her jaw, and as it grew it pushed the floor of her mouth up and she just could not hold onto her drool. By the time we noticed it, it was too late for her. Cat’s, like most animals, are pretty good at masking their suffering, so that most of the time she simply looked cute and cuddly. At the Vet, the operation just sounded like there would be no quality of life for her, so we had her put to sleep, and I buried her in our backyard in Red Bank. I did not write Leslie about this.

Some time passed, and then Katahdin disappeared. A couple of days went by and we hadn’t seen him, and I decided to go out and look for him. I didn’t have to look far. He had been involved in a car accident (I believe), and still alive, he was holed up under the porch trying to recover, but getting weaker. We took him to the vet, and they were able to help him, but that was the beginning of the end for him, and eventually we had to have him put down as well, and he too is buried in the backyard in Red Bank. I did not write Leslie about this either.

It got to be near the end of Leslie’s time abroad, and Susan, my wife, told me that I had to write Leslie and tell her about her cats. I knew this would be a tough assignment. I can write some funny humorous stuff, but writing serious stuff, I knew would be a chore.

How to tell her? Should I describe the issues they had, and then finish by telling her they were gone? Should I start out that they are gone, and then give the circumstances? Should I apologize for not telling her sooner?

Needless to say I started a few notes, and each one ended up in the trash after a few sentences. At some point I settled on the following:

Dear Leslie,

Your cats are dead.

Love Eric

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