In mid-August 1996, two gray tabbies were born in the dairy barn of a friend. They were a litter of two to another gray tabby called Tripaw’d. She was a small cat, the victim of a farm machinery accident that left her without a rear foot. Her loss was no impediment, as she granted access to the barn food dish with a swipe at every other cat who came to eat, presumably for not showing her proper enough deference.
Eight weeks later the pair of kittens arrived at our house in a cardboard box, having fought the driver of a pickup truck to escape the container for thirty miles. It was a conspiracy. The box was delivered without a word—from a human. It was only a second before the kitten (who was probably Gordon) meowed as a surprise to his human mother, and the two began their lives as members of our family.
His brother was stockier and proper from the start. We named him Theodore Roosevelt, and he became our beloved TR. His smaller brother, who gave up nothing to size, earned the best cat name ever: G. Gordon Kitty.
Both filled our lives with unforgettable joy. From the new kittens scampering across the sofa as if it were a bale of hay to the cats who came to see us as their family, days were filled with laughter at their antics, and the evenings were fulfilled by the sharing of quiet time together. Human laps are cat-shaped and warm, and meant for occupation.
They lived their lives with us, and followed where we went, and even if the new house was small they at least remained with the ones who loved them. Finally, they arrived at the last house they would know, surrounded by Texas oaks and situated in a spacious fenced lawn of green grass. Windows ledges are fine for sitting, and a bath for birds stands outside the best one.
TR died at 5:55 AM on New Year’s Day in 2009 of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. We had enough warning, and the ones he loved most were there with him. They included Gordon, who spent their last few nights together in this world keeping his brother warm in a padded laundry basket on the floor of the den. Gordon was there when his brother left the world, as he was when TR came. Our hearts were broken.
Cats mourn. We saw in Gordon the same emotions that we felt. We felt the same sadness, the sense of loss, the longing for the brother who was no longer there.
Gordon himself had no easy life. He and TR nearly died after their first series of shots from the same allergic reaction, and only the quick action of a veterinary team saved their lives. Gordon, had he stayed in the barn, would have died at 30 months from a bladder stone that bisected his urethra. Scarring from that first procedure would have taken him again at age five, had we not lived in a location with advanced veterinary surgery available. Vets saved his life once again from a serious kidney infection caught by the watchful eyes of his human mom three and a half years ago.
Gordon survived with reduced kidney function, requiring very regular subcutaneous infusions of fluid for the rest of his life. Those years were good ones, and we treasured every one of our last days with him. When it was his time he left the world from his home, in the embrace of the two people who loved him most, as his brother did in the same room three years earlier.
TR was a very proper cat, careful and reflective in every situation. Gordon was a cat of action and bold adventure. He reveled in discovery, and could open cabinet doors and disc drives with ease. Gordon dialed 911 by walking across a speakerphone one Super Bowl Sunday and then hung up on the dispatcher, allowing us to meet two of our city’s finest at our front door to explain his talent.
Gordon was a bright light. He looked deep into your eyes to see who was there. He grasped the concept of family and of love. He brought joy to our lives and so was a very successful cat. We thank God for the decade and a half plus that we were allowed to be his humans. His life was a gift on loan from a loving Creator, and we do not begrudge Gordon’s return to his Source. If it were within our power, we would have kept him here.
Light bright and dim will leave the world today, but Gordon’s led the way, as was always his style. Lives great and small end in every moment. In this moment, I mourn only one. My cat is dead. My friend is gone. My heart is undone.
Choose to love, -DA