You were forced on me, Cat. I didn’t want you. You were gray and beige and scrawny and scared. I came for the bigger cat, the one that was like a dog. But they forced you and the black cat on me. I didn’t want you, but it was only temporary.
I was 24 and living on my own in a one-bedroom apartment. I wanted to rescue a cat because I wasn’t home enough to take care of a dog. I said I’d foster you because they preyed on my weakness. They said someone else would adopt you. I wasn’t a cat person. You weren’t a person cat. We were a terrible match.
But I fed you the best food. I changed your litter box. I took you to the vet, if someone was around to get you out from under the bed and into the carrier. I threw you toys with cat nip in them, and tried to get you to bat around a mouse on the end of a fishing pole.
For ten years, you barely let me touch you. I only knew you were alive because you ate your food and pooped in the box. I was patient. Or dumb. Or both.
The next ten years found you slowly realizing no one wanted to kill you. We got a dog and you came out of your shell a bit. We had a kid and you came out of your shell a lot more. I was allowed to pet you, sometimes. I got to watch you play. Then you came out into the living room, got up on the couch, came into the kitchen to beg for food. You jumped up on the bed. You let all of us pet you. You seemed to realize how much you missed out on in those first ten years.
You got older and more affectionate. You got older and less scared. You got older, and older. I made jokes about how you would never die. You became fearless. We got a puppy and you let him know you were there first. He would nip at your ankles and you would laugh in his face.
Then you got really old. And no one could believe how long you had been around. You still looked like a kitten. You meowed a lot at night. You seemed a bit senile, which only made you more affectionate. I changed your food. I changed the pee pads. I told you it was okay and that I loved you. And you purred “I love you” right back to me.
Two decades later and I think we taught each other a lot about patience, and love. I thought you’d never die, but I was wrong.
I love you, Misty. Thank you for twenty years of me figuring you out, and you letting me know I was on the right track. You really let me do something special. I know I complained about you a lot, but I can’t imagine you not here with us.
I don’t know if cats go to the Rainbow Bridge, but wherever you go I hope you give them hell for the first decade, because anyone worth anything will know you’re worth the wait.