Prior to 2009 I knew little about the common house cat, which was fine by me. I never understood the attraction of a pet that refused to respond when called; what’s more, their fur made my eyes itch and sent my sinuses into overdrive.
Then I met Bill. He was perfect in everyway but one; he owned a damn cat.
Bill assured me that Chester was special, but I had my doubts — don’t all pet owners say that? Upon meeting him, I agreed. This 26-pound cat was in no way ordinary.
Chester didn’t slink around the house, hide under the bed or silently appear like Carl Sandberg’s illustrious Fog; instead he strode through the house with the confidence of a mob boss. To say he had an attitude is an understatement; his disposition made Grumpy Cat appear downright jovial and I gave him a wide berth.
There are rules one must follow with a feline such as this: dinner was to be served precisely at 6 p.m. (or you heard about it), petting was allowed, but only on his terms (three scratches behind the ear and hands off), and then there was the shoe fetish.
Chester loved shoes — not those left scattered around the house, but the ones on your feet. He would bite at your ankles until you relinquished control; good luck getting them back. It was easier to grab a different pair.
Bill called Chester his little “love machine” and said I only needed to see past all the gruff, but it took awhile.
Despite his size he was fast as a whip and taunted me at every turn, blocking doorways and daring me to cross his path. Of course, I responded with adolescent glee and messed with him every chance I could. Eventually, through this game of wits we became the best of frenemies.
Like all nocturnal creatures, Chester roamed the house and didn’t bed down until the wee hours; each night he’d jump on the bed and shortcut his way across my gut to reach his lair. I had not enjoyed an uninterrupted night of sleep in years.
Bill and I irrationally assumed Chester was a permanent fixture in the house and were shocked when after 17 years it was his time for him to leave this earth. As he grew weak, Chester could no longer keep up the tough-guy front, and it was obvious that Bill had been right all along. Like all of us, Chester only wanted to be loved and accepted for who he was.
The first night after he passed, I sat crammed to one side of his chair, waiting for him to rightfully claim one half, but he was gone and his absence has left yet another hole in my soul.
Bill and I doubt we will ever own another cat. How could we?
We take so much for granted — our loved ones, our pets, our health. Today, stop and appreciate all the things in your life that make it so wonderful. —Karen