Make New Fur Friends, But Keep the Old

Last April, I shared about Echo, my tabby cat who turned 20 years old on April 20, 2019, opens a new window. Such an occasion couldn’t pass without a proper celebration. I threw a small party with balloon decorations, feline-themed cocktails, and a kitty litter cake. My friends and family smiled awkwardly as we sang happy birthday to her and nibbled on the cinnamon crumble with mini Twix bars. Yes, I’m an unapologetic cat-lady at heart.

I tear up now as I write this, because Echo passed away on October 20th, her half birthday. As tough an old lady as she was, she outlived the viability of her aging body. My husband and I woke up that morning to find her weak and unable to move on her own, so we took her to Blue Pearl in Overland Park. They advised us that putting her to rest was the best option. I knew her story was drawing to a close, but it still broke my heart into a million fleshy pieces when I had to let her go.

It’s been five months, and I still miss her reassuring purr. The weight of her curled up on my lap. Her soft fur, gentle meow, and her waiting for breakfast in the kitchen first thing in the morning. I’ll always cherish the time I had with her, but it’s still painful.

When my heart hurts the most, I turn to books, and as absurd as it might seem, one that has helped me heal is I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats, opens a new window by Francesco Marciuliano. Some of the poems are entirely silly. Some of them, like “Give,” touch your heart and right when you start to tear up, remind you of the good times and make you smile. “You can’t clutch a memory / as if it were today…”

“You can’t seize life
     thinking only of loss
And you can’t grab a laser pointer dot
     on the wall
No matter how much you try
These hard-earned truths I give to you”

Spending time with the two other fur friends who share our home, Baxter and Lia, and frequently visiting the cats at the Lawrence Humane Society also helped. Playful kittens, needy young adults and aloof elders who don't mind an ear scritch or two distracted my mourning mind.

Then we met Mr. Binks. An eight year old tuxedo cat missing half his teeth, he clawed onto our hearts from the beginning. Unsure if we were ready to bring another cat into the home, we told ourselves we’d wait a few weeks. His adoption fee was waived, and we figured he’d find a home quickly. Two weeks later, we returned, and he greeted us like old friends. We couldn’t leave him there any longer.

This energetic, talkative, and sometimes skittish addition to our home has caused many laughs, calmed many nerves, and healed my broken heart. He hasn’t replaced my Echo, who, like her name suggests, will always be remembered, but has proven that my capacity for love is much greater than I thought possible.

Especially during this time when the world seems to be closing in, the company of a fur friend can help combat loneliness, anxiety, and fear. If you’re looking to bring a new pet into your life, the Lawrence Humane Society is still offering adoptions by appointment, opens a new window. You can also provide temporary care through the LHS Foster Program.

If you aren’t able to have a pet in your home, watching live feeds from zoos and aquariums, opens a new window, documentaries on Kanopy, opens a new window, and YouTube videos, opens a new window can be comforting as well. And if you’re as much a cat lover as I, don’t forget to check out I Could Pee on This, opens a new window and the follow up, I Could Pee on This Too, opens a new window, available instantly on Hoopla.

Sending you warm fuzzies from a social distance. ??♥️

- William is the Cataloging & Collection Development Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library