Saying goodbye to a furry friend
Y’all, don’t hold this against me, but I’m a cat person.
I know dogs are more popular. I know they’re nicer. I know they’re “man’s best friend.” I lived with various roommates and their canine BFFs for the better part of eight years, and I learned to love dogs on a level I never had before.
But when I decided to get my own pet in December 2020, there was never any question: I would get a cat. I grew up with cats. I’m also an introvert who doesn’t enjoy being licked a lot.
My friend Kari manages the Chipper & Coco pet shop in Jackson, and they typically have some adoptable animals from CARA (Community Animal Rescue & Adoption). I visited a couple of 4-month-old kittens there and decided I really liked “Scuttle,” a black male with white whiskers, belly and paws. He fit snugly in my arms.
(FYI, I’ve been told black cats don’t get adopted as often because they “don’t photograph well.” This is a silly reason not to adopt a cat. It’s almost as silly as me being pleased that a black cat wouldn’t look “loud” against my home décor.)
So I adopted “Scuttle” but not his name, and waited a few days to see what stuck. Read: I waited a few days to see if anything sounded better than Dally.
I’d read S.E. Hinton’s young adult novel “The Outsiders” three times in adolescence, and one of my favorite characters in both the book and the film adaptation was Dallas Winston. He’s not exactly a role model, but I could save the biblical names for my kids.
I did make one mistake, though: I looked up Dally’s hair color from the book, and sure enough, it was blond. I willed myself to forget that.
Like any cat, Dally loved lying on laundry fresh out of the dryer. He also enjoyed sunning himself in my bathroom window, escaping into the garage and, later, lying on the floor against the door when I got home so that when it swung inward, I’d feel a little resistance. He often rested on my lap with his head tilted down face-first. Was he comfortable? Was he breathing? Yes, and yes.
It took me a few tries to find the right way to keep him out of my gas fireplace. First I tried shoving a chest up against it, but the chest wasn’t tall enough. Then I stacked books on top of the chest. This worked but looked tacky. Then I put lint-roller tape on the floor around the fireplace. Same issue. Finally, I tied the little chain-mail fireplace “curtains” shut with twist-ties that my mom had painted black for me. Thanks, Mom!
I don’t regret naming my cat Dally, but I might name my next one Methuselah. Much like the fictional Dallas Winston, my sweet Dally died right around the time he reached adulthood. (Sorry to spoil “The Outsiders,” but it’s still worth reading, in my opinion.)
On Friday, August 27, Dally was diagnosed with a rare, rapidly progressing terminal illness affecting (often) younger cats and kittens. He wasn’t suffering on Friday, but by late Saturday night, he was having seizure-like episodes every half hour. I could’ve given him more drugs, but that just would’ve prolonged the inevitable. I hadn’t seen him take a drink of water all day.
So in an examination room at the urgent vet, I held my kitty, told him I loved him, cried two days’ worth of tears in five minutes, and went back to the reception desk to say I was ready.
I know I did the right thing. And as much as I’ll miss Dally, I’m just so happy God let me have him for nine months. I’m happy I got to give him a home, and that he made my house feel like home. No, his last few days were not fun. But the emotion that overwhelmed me Saturday night, as I drove away from the urgent vet with an empty pet carrier, was gratitude.
‘Must-reads’ this month:
● Our cover story on John Damon, head of Canopy Children’s Solutions in Jackson, and his wife, Helaina
● Our feature story with the latest on But God Ministries’ work providing jobs in the Mississippi Delta.
● Libbo Crosswhite’s “spiritual wellness” conversation starter.