Nine months ago Mr. Finger Candy and I quite unexpectedly lost our beloved cat, Weegie, to cancer. Or old age. Or some bullshit combination of the two. It just blew in like a hurricane, laid our trailer park asunder. Plastic lawn flamingos and tiny gnomes everywhere.
We are childless, or child-free, depending on how you’d like to look at it, and ludicrously devoted to our pets, to a fault (find me another couple who would willingly trade off sleep so one person could be awake with the cat at all times. Yeah, I thought so.)
So on that horrible Monday morning nine months ago, when I woke with a terrible knot in my stomach two full hours beyond the time Weegie normally would have screamed me into consciousness, only to find her listless, confused and barely able to move from her bed, my life – our lives – changed. And not for the better.
We took her to the vet, who confirmed that her everything had failed, and when we left an hour and a half later, she wasn’t with us. We had no options – our girl had just run out of time, in truly spectacular fashion – but I still hold firm to my belief that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. And if I’m being truly honest with myself, I hate myself for having done it. I probably always will.
In the aftermath, we just fell apart. And I’m not entirely sure we ever put ourselves back together. There’s something broken inside me, some vital part of who I was nine months ago that disappeared the moment I walked out those veterinary doors. I wonder if it will ever return.
Despite the fact that she was the light of our lives, a delightfully LOUD, silly and obstructionist little monster (she was remarkably adept at blackmail for a cat) I’ve had a hard time talking about her many fine qualities, and the seemingly infinitesimal ways she managed to enrich and enrage our lives simultaneously.
But I was reminded earlier today that 13 years ago this morning, Mr. Finger Candy and I catnapped Weegie from an overpriced coffee shop whilst playing hooky from work. It’s a funny story, one that started with me getting assaulted by a bossy kitty in a parking lot, and ended with me racing against a deadline in an enclosed room with a very curious, temporarily quarantined cat and her horror show of a litter box, so I’m going to tell it.
Weegie’s origin story begins with Mr. Finger Candy and I blowing off work for the day. Yay for being productive adults! But it was a brutally hot August day, and a useless Wednesday Hump Day at that, and by the time we stopped for overpriced iced coffees on our way to work, neither one of us was in much of a mood to bring the bacon.
As I turned off the busy, four-lane road into the Second Cup parking lot, a small, striped brown cat emerged from a cluster of bushes by the drive-thru lane and trotted across the lot towards our car. “Oh, no no no no no, kitty, stay back, it’s too dangerous!” I groaned, but by the time I opened my door, there she was, furiously sniffing everything, already setting sail on her curiosity voyage.
We somehow managed to cross the parking lot with her pasted to our sides, finally depositing her safely on the store’s patio, where she immediately ambled off to hit up – unsuccessfully – an older couple trying to enjoy their morning coffee. While Mr. Finger Candy went inside to place our order, I stayed outside with her, fretfully glaring at the traffic streaming by mere feet away.
Ten minutes or so passed, and with no sign of Mr. Finger Candy or our drinks, I went inside to find him animatedly talking to the staff. “Oh, hey,” he said casually, handing off a whipped cream-topped brew that I was ready to inject straight into my veins. “They want to know if we’re going to take the cat.”
“Excuse me,” I blubbered. “Take the cat?” “Yeah, the cat outside!” piped up the barista, jerking her thumb towards the glass door, where at that very moment a man trying to enter was being accosted by the little striped cat. “She’s been here for weeks and we’ve been feeding her, but she’s freaking out the customers and she won’t go away. She seems to like you two. D’you want her?”
“HELLS, YEAH!” was what I was really thinking. She was clearly malnourished, totally starved for attention, and trying to survive at the side of a busy commercial thoroughfare with no front claws. It was a no-brainer. But then a little further down from that, I was thinking about the cat we already had, Porky, and how supremely pissed she would be if we brought home another animal, to say nothing of the safety or disease concerns associated with taking in a stray. And so we left without the little cat, slowly, and with many dissatisfied looks back at the parking lot.
At that time, Mr. Finger Candy’s office was another 15 minutes down the road, and for the first 10 minutes of that drive, neither one of us said a word, lost in our own thoughts. I think my husband was the first one to break the silence with a deep breath and a definitive, “I think we should go back and get that cat.” And since I didn’t need to be asked twice, that’s precisely what we did (though first we stopped in at my husband’s office, where he literally went in and said he was taking a personal day so we could rescue a cat from the side of the road. They were totally fine with it, and I think they appreciated his honesty. We certainly appreciated their understanding.)
We drove back to the Second Cup, confident that when we pulled into the lot, she would be gone, taken by another couple to her forever home. But there she was, thankfully still on the patio, now stationed directly beneath a large gentleman trying to enjoy his morning scone. As we got out of the car, she came across the parking lot towards us like an old friend (albeit an old friend who gets up on their back legs to dance around for your whipped cream-topped beverages) and in that instant, it was decided – WE would be her forever home.
So we went inside and asked the staff if their offer (?) still stood. “YES, PLEASE take her,” said the barista, glancing at the door, where at that very moment the little striped cat who would become Weegie was stretched out, fluffy tummy pressed against the glass panels.
In later years, I often wondered what Weegie thought about her catnapping. It must have been an odd thing indeed to suddenly be snatched up and transplanted to an entirely new locale. But the Weege really seemed to roll with it, crawling up into our car’s sunny back window to enjoy the ride to her new home.
As I mentioned, we already had a cat, a saucy, sometimes hauty girl named Porky that I had adopted in 2001. When Weegie arrived on the scene, Porky was already 17 years old, totally set in her ways, and completely disinterested in taking on a young, spastic roommate (we came to discover that Weegie was about three years old when we liberated her from the Second Cup.) I just remember walking through the front door, Weegie perched in Mr. Finger Candy’s arms, and having Porky pull up short at the sight of this interloper, fixing me with an icy green stare that said, unequivocally, “WHAT have you fuckers done now?”
As Weegie’s health status was undetermined, the original plan was to sequester her in one of the bedrooms until we could have her examined by a vet. But when we put her down to take off our shoes, she charged into the apartment, laying waste to everything delicious and even moderately tempting in her path while we ran after her shouting, “Oh, no no no no no no, kitty, that’s not yours! Let us get you your own bowl!” The three of us could do nothing but sit back and watch in total awe as she laid waste to half a large bowl of crunchies and about two cups of cold water, before savaging a catnip banana and then falling asleep with her face pressed into the carpet for the next four hours. It was some very impressive and dedicated slothdom.
That evening, we moved the new cat (then literally called New Cat or Noob; the Weegie moniker wouldn’t come for some weeks) to the second bedroom, along with her new litter box. Porky sat outside the door, furious (a state that would continue for about a month; she was PISSED, justifiably, although we more than compensated her for her troubles. Improbably, you might say, she was somehow more spoiled than Weegie.)
At the time, I worked from home as a transcriptionist, and unfortunately, the day’s cat-centric activities had put me way behind schedule. It looked as though I was going to be up all night, typing my brains out in the second bedroom with our new cat in order to meet deadline.
Or that was the plan before Weegie, once-empty tummy now filled with delicious food and more than a couple of evening treats, began sprinting to her litter box, just behind me and off to my right, at a rate of about once every 85 seconds. It didn’t take long for my sweet new kitty to totally smoke me out of the room, and Mr. Finger Candy still jokes to this day about the anguished wail of “It smells like poo down here!” I let loose as I fled, gasping, from the room. We were glad to realize – and you’ll be glad to know as well, because that was kind of a gross tale – that this was the result of a Second Cup diet consisting almost entirely of 35% whipping cream, and thankfully quite temporary.
Going forward, we didn’t see too much trouble from the Weege. She was actually a fairly easy cat to fur-parent (my mom is reading this and dying inside; hi Mom!) One or two bummy teeth aside, her health was never an issue. Until it was the only issue. But she had no big health concerns, save her tendency to pack on the pudge. She wasn’t a biter, a scratcher, a lunger or a slasher, although she did have an annoying tendency to dash out into the hall nearly every time we opened the front door. She wasn’t a picky eater – if anything, we had to encourage her to look more closely at her food to determine if it was even food in the first place. She was a real equal opportunity feline foodie. Friendly and easygoing, she had her favourite people, and she treated them accordingly. She just had a nice, chummy disposition. It was easy to like, or maybe even love, the Weege.
And we loved her, so, so much. We were better people for having had her in our lives. Miss you, little Weege.