Ode to my cat, Satchel

Ode to my cat, Satchel

You guys, my cat is the greatest.

I know, I know.  You have a cat, or a dog, or a ferret, or a rat, and you firmly believe that YOUR pet is the greatest.  I applaud this. I hope all of us animal lovers can staunchly assert that our own pets are the best pets ever.  Honest: I want everyone to feel this way.

Satchel is three years old, and I loved him from the moment I met him.  In early summer 2012, a friend of a friend dropped by a place where we were all hanging out. The guy arrived with a crate full of tiny kittens. He just had to show us this batch of siblings he was fostering. As a die-hard kitten fan, I gravitated toward the crate.  My eyes filled with tears as I spotted two kittens in particular that had nearly identical markings to my beloved Wally, the kitten we adopted in 2011 who died just seven months after she was born due to illnesses the doctors and vets could never figure out.  My friend R. put her arm around me and smiled, knowing my eyes were brimming at seeing the similarity between the kittens and my little Walls.

One cat really stood out to me, though.  He was a gray tabby with a little white chin, and he was mewing the loudest and trying to get out and explore the world.  The cat guy could tell I was taken with the kittens and let R., our mutual friend, know privately that any of the kittens could be mine if I was ready to adopt again.

A week later, we did one of the cutest things I’ve ever done in all my life: we had a kitten photo party.  In the spring and summer, Athens, Georgia is overrun with kittens in need of homes, and it can be really difficult to get all the cats placed safely.  R. thought it would be easier to place these babies if we had some high-quality and adorable photos of them.   We put the crate full of cats on the grass in R.’s backyard and opened the door.  The babies mewed loudly, no one wanting to actually step out of the crate onto the unfamiliar terrain. But there was one guy willing to take up the charge—it was the little gray tabby with the white chin! He marched on out of the crate and crawled onto my lap.  Swoon!  The rest of that afternoon, the kittens roamed R.’s basement adorably while we took pictures.  I kept finding myself gravitating toward the little gray guy, picking him up and cuddling him and taking more photos of him than any of the others.

I mentioned the kittens to Jim again—he’d met them briefly when the cat guy brought them by originally, and he’d looked at my photos from the kitten photo party.  I told him I didn’t know if I was ready to adopt again but that, if we did, there was one cat in particular I had fallen for.  Guess what? Jim had fallen for this little guy, too.

The origin story of Satchel goes on, but I’ll cut it short to tell you the truth: it was hard to get another kitten in the house, and it was a big choice to make after the awful suffering we had endured with Wally and the heartbreak that will maybe never fully heal when we lost her.  (People who have had pets seem to better understand how losing an animal can be devastating—pet-less folks sometimes find the depth of loss confusing, which is understandable).

So now it’s three years later, and we are head-over-heels for this quirky, funny, sweet, and loving little guy.  Gone are the days when, as a kitten, he would meow and meow until you picked him up to cuddle him. Gone are the days when he would pass out so thoroughly we could put his body into any position we wanted to, making his legs and arms look like he was a man hailing a taxi ,a person sprawled on the couch with the TV remove in hand.  He may be getting older and more independent, but he’s still such a source of joy and comfort.  He cuddles with us on his own terms (in the cooler weather more than the hot), and his antics make us laugh out loud every single day.

In addition to the joy he has brought into the lives of us, two chronically-ill people, Satchel has also brought us tremendous comfort.  When I am sick with a bad migraine episode, he will abandon his adventures and come lie down on the bed with me, periodically walking around my head and sniffing my face and nudging my hair to check on me.  Sometimes he will meow for more fresh water (usually after knocking his food into his water bowl on purpose—don’t ask), and when I refill his water I am reminded that it’s time for me to re-hydrate as well.  When he yells at us to replenish his food supply, I remember that it’s time for me to have some food as well.  And when he begs to be let out (poor guy is an indoor cat, so there’s no outdoor hunting adventures awaiting him), I am reminded that getting some fresh air or going for a walk myself might be in order.

Do any of you have pets? How does (or doesn’t) your pet help you live a better life? What things does he/she do to cheer you up or make you feel comforted? Please share your thoughts below!

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