Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I can still hear the bartender telling another waitress that a stray cat had kittens in his barn.

“Four are long-haired pure white Persians and there were two regular gray striped ones. Isn’t it funny they can come out looking so different all from the same mom?” he mused as he poured a dirty martini.

“I’ll take the gray ones,” I offered assuming they would be the last chosen over the fancy ones.

That was seven years ago and the two kittens, Bacchus and Janet soon became as dear to me as any family member. Through moves and boyfriends and jobs, they were my constant little companions.

Bacchus died this morning.

I know as parents we aren’t supposed to choose favorites, but Bacchus was my special boy. Growing to a beefy 14 pounds, his dark green eyes and deep purr were never far from me. He was the first pet that was all mine; not one that my parents or roommates already had.

He loved being outside and often left gifts of livers and other internal organs of critters for us to find.

“It’s pate,” I would quip when Darling Husband got annoyed at the mess. “He is saving the best for us.”

When I lived in Pownal, there was a giant tree that bent over my bedroom. Every night I would leave the window cracked and each morning woke to find a tuckered out feline snuggled up to me. I never saw how he made this terrific leap, but it never failed him.

Then I had Baby Boy and the attention once fully devoted to the pets segmented into smaller bits. I am sure that hurt their feelings but I could easily sway their love back with salmon and furry mice toys.

Now the guilt is seeping in of why I didn’t notice he was sick. Yes, I saw he was losing weight, but the vet had told me to cut back on his soft-food feasts. A few weeks ago, however, I felt that his spine was jutting through his thinning fur and my heart stopped. I ran to the pantry and shoved a can of tuna under his nose, which he greedily devoured as Janet needled her way in for a taste.

The X-ray showed a tumor the size of a baseball on his liver.

“But his sister is the boozer,” I tried to joke through the tears.

And today during the surgery to remove the beast that was eating away at his insides, he died.

Now I sit here, heartbroken, wondering if it is worth this pain to even have pets. They have comparatively short lives and so with each puppy or kitten we pick out starts the clock to a slobbering mess.

Since I have always had pets, I am sure the answer is yes, but it is hard to think about that now.

So, when you go home today, give your dogs an extra long walk, your cats some organic cat nip, your bunnies extra pats and your birds a current newspaper--they are tired of last year’s gossip.

And to my dear Bacchus, I love you so much and I hope you get to come back as a rambunctious little boy who brings smiles (and pate) to everyone he meets.

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