I have long maintained that, while humans domesticated dogs, it was the cat that went on to domesticate the human. And while I have known many a cat in my day, the cat that most domesticated me, Snowflake, died last Thursday. It feels weird and stupid and childish to let something like this bother me so, but there it is. I don't know exactly how to describe my general mood since her passing as anything other than "melancholy"; as if a persistent cloud was looming over me, in spite of any efforts I make not to think on it.
Maybe it's because Snowflake was the first cat I knew since she'd been a kitten? She was 6 weeks old, I was about 8, and we seemed to imprint immediately, despite the fact that officially she belonged to my sister. Snowflake didn't belong to anyone, although it was fairly clear that I belonged to her, whether I liked it or not. Her air of superiority was constantly obvious, in a way that only a cat could ever pull off. She was not fond of very many people, and rest assured, if she did not like you, you knew it. When friends or relatives would dub her "your evil cat" or "Kitty McNasty", I'd just shake my head and smile. I never had a problem with her, so clearly something was wrong with them in her eyes.
But she lived a long life, and this is the way of things. Almost always when someone acquires a pet, they expect to outlive them (parrot owners aside). I've certainly lost pets before; I don't kid myself on these things. My cat Isis, for example, has had a few medical issues stemming from a botched surgery she had as a kitten before I met her, and I can't expect her to live nearly as long as Snowflake did. That just wouldn't be realistic. But something about Snowflake's death, old as she was, hit me harder than I expected it to.
I guess where it all became "real" for me was a dream I had a few days after her death. In the dream, I was sitting at my parent's house petting her, when all of the sudden I realized that this wasn't right. I looked at Snowflake, and said "wait, you're dead." I woke up, and realized that I'd been subconsciously avoiding my parents’ house since she died, even when I had spent time with them. Because if I went there, I'd have to face the truth: Snowflake is dead, and I'm never going to see her again. There will be no good bye, she's simply gone now.
Again, I don't really know what I'm feeling; it seems so.... emotional, so ‘human’ to even feel much of anything. I have fond memories of a cat that many people didn't particularly like, but a cat that was quite elderly. 17 is quite old for our feline friends. This is all part of life, and I know and accept that. Why should I allow any more thought to the matter than that?
I suppose the answer is, despite all my best intentions, I really am only human. I can never fully understand that perfect engine of death and design that is the cat, and sometimes my emotions still get the better of me. There was something I respected and enjoyed about her mixture of grace and disdain- and make no mistake about my comments, she wasn’t always disdainful, often she was quite happy to cuddle with those she deemed worthy. She and I were as close of friends as members of two different species could be.
I've never known two cats that I thought were particularly similar, and if I'm to take anything else from losing Snowflake, it's this: She was unique, and therefore, with her passing, something unique has been lost to my universe. There's no lesson to be learned here other than the obvious; everything dies, usually unexpectedly, and nothing can be done about it. So you have to cherish everything, because you never know when it will be gone.
She's gone. I live to fight another day. It's not an overly happy ending to the tale of the two of us. But then again, no one ever said it would end any other way.