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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I Did My Friend a Favor Today

A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.
-- John Keats

My dear friend had been seriously ill for more than a week. This morning, realizing that no miracle was coming, I ended her suffering. It was the least I could do for someone who had been my constant companion for 17 years.

In the late spring of 1988, I had put some cardboard boxes on my patio. Why, I don't recall. I noticed that a long-haired black cat was spending a lot of time in one of the boxes; whenever I went onto the patio, she would make weird noises. Knowing very little about cats, I didn't stop to imagine why she might be there.

The next thing I knew, on June 23, she gave birth to three kittens, one male and two females. Wanting her to be able to nurse her kittens, I started feeding her.

I've always been a dog lover, and I had never given a hoot about cats. In fact, I considered men with pet cats to be sissies.

I found someone who wanted one of the kittens. One of the females was smooth and black; the male was a black-and-white longhair, and the other female, the most beautiful one, had markings similar to her brother's. Since several of her legs were white, I named her Bootsie, which soon became simply Boots.

My friend really wanted Boots, but I was not about to give her up, so she took the male instead. This left me with three: Sophie, Boots, and the mother, Kitty Poo. Before I could get all of them spayed, I had kittens coming out of my ears; this necessitated several trips to the rescue league. My only defense for this is my then-ignorance about cats. The Good Lord obviously intended for the world to have lots and lots of felines!

Kitty Poo made herself right at home. She was clearly accustomed to lying on the coffee table; this removed any doubt that she had had a previous owner, who evidently had abandoned her. She was loaded with personality-- what a character!

As a friend and I watched, Boots delivered her only litter behind the couch. All six of her kittens entered the world being thoroughly licked by their mother. I called one of them "Pigface" because of the shape of its nose. I remember wearing flip-flops and sitting in the rocking chair; the six kittens would crawl onto my feet and completely cover them.

Sophie went away in March of 1993, and Kitty Poo had to be put to sleep in November of 1998, leaving Boots as my only pet for the last nearly-seven years.

I've never had another pet who lasted 17 years. Not even close. I used to love to watch her run outdoors. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white...

Once, shortly after I had moved, Boots got out in the unfamiliar surroundings. I found her in the bushes beside my neighbor's house. She was scared to death and froze when she saw me, allowing me to pick her up. As soon as we got back indoors, she scrambled to get down and ran and hid under the bed.

I turned her into a total housecat twelve and a half years ago, and this surely gave her a longer life. I was told that, whenever I went out, she would whine until I returned.

Boots always went berserk over lizards. When one was crawling on the outside of the patio door, she would practically go through the glass trying to get to it. Several of the poor creatures made the fatal mistake of getting inside the house.

For most of Boots's life, I couldn't get her to sit in my lap. I blamed myself for not having held her very much when she was a kitten. I used to tell her that I was going to trade her for a lap cat. Then, several years ago, she surprised me and jumped into my lap. She continued to do this for the rest of her life.

"17 years?! That's 120 in human years!"

"She had a good life, and she's better off now!"

All true, but they don't fill the hole in my life. They don't stop the pain in my heart. Only time will do those things.

Paraphrasing William Shakespeare,

When she shall die,
Take her and cut her out in little stars,
And she will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

I'll never forget you, Kitty Boots.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you the Steve Rankin that was LaMissTenn Circle K Governor? If you are please email me at lcall80@aol.com. Thanks

Wed Oct 26, 11:44:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you the Steve Rankin that was LaMissTenn Circle K Governor? If you are please email me at lcall80@aol.com. Thanks

Wed Oct 26, 11:45:00 AM CDT  
Blogger BonnieBlueFlag said...


I just happened to follow a trail of bread crumbs left by Tim at Birdblog to this location, and after deciding to try and graduate the 8th grade another day, (although knowing that there are 60 lbs. to a bushel of wheat finally came in handy), I noted your post about your dear friend, Boots.

Having lost several very good friends and companions myself, I could really feel your sorrow at the loss of your little Bootsie.

I had dogs (Shelties) for most of my life, until I was adopted by a stray cat too. Now, I have some of each, but more cats than dogs.

When you share your life with that many critters, there is no way to avoid the inevitable day, when you must go on without one of them now and then. Having several little friends does not make it any easier to lose one though, because each and every one of them has come to be very special in some way.

Some time ago I realized that when I think back on my life, it is almost divided up into chapters, by the pets who accompanied me through that portion of my life.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop and say that I am sending my sympathy on your loss.

One thing I might add, and not everyone understands this, after losing a little friend, the only thing that helps me to get over the loss is to adopt a new friend. Like you said, there are kitty cats everywhere, and I always figure there is another little lonesome soul out there who needs a home and a friend too.

Wed Oct 26, 09:30:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Don Bangert said...

I, too, had to make the ultimate discussion to end the suffering for a pet that my wife and I adopted. Maggy was a very old Pomeranian that came to us with a lot of the defects that old dogs tend to have. She lived with us for about two years before her organs began to systematically shut down. It was pretty tough to watch the twinkle in her eye grow dim with pain. It still tears me up when I think about the day we took her to the vet for the last time. The only thing that saves my sanity is to remember the little sigh of relief she let out as the anaesthetic eased her into the hereafter. . . .

I still miss her.

Fri Oct 28, 10:06:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous Dpollypit said...

Just want you to know, I'll bet Boots is in kitty heaven smiling down on you for
what you wrote about her. IT IS AWSOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wed Nov 23, 06:19:00 PM CST  
Anonymous Mark said...

Thanks for your concern. I'm recovering slowly. Yes, I read about your cat. I, too, was (and still am) a dog lover and knew nothing about cats until I sat a friend's apartment one summer. The apartment came with 2 cats. They realized that I knew nothing about cats and proceeded to teach me over the summer. I came to really like cats. After I lost my great friend, a big German Shepherd, I decided not to have a dog any more; too much trouble. After a while, a huge Maine Coon cat came into my life. He weighed 25 pounds, was very sweet and sociable, loved to go riding in the car and meet new people. I was very surprised one day when I realized that I had a cat for a pal. That couldn't be; only dogs can be pals. Well, he was the greatest guy. I had to put him down about 2 years ago. He's buried under a tree in the yard. I miss him as much as I miss my Shepherd. So, my sympathies and condolences on the loss of your friend. Best wishes.


Sat Nov 26, 05:24:00 PM CST  

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