Sunday, June 08, 2008


Last Sunday morning I found my cat Cheesy on my back porch looking very bad. Karl and I rushed him to an emergency vet in Shelton where they told us his odds weren't good. I knew by the way he was looking at me in the car that this was it. It was the first time, in all the dozens upon dozens of horses, cats and dogs my family has had to put down, that I had the courage to be there. I held him during the injection and felt his last struggle (he always hated to be held), then felt his body finally let go.

Karl gave me Cheesy on the day I finished my first professional illustration assignment 11 years ago when we were living in a basement in Lyme. He was with us a long time. Anyone who has been to my house knows he was quite a character. I've still not adjusted to him not being here.

This poem was read in church today.

may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die–
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

Alistair Reid


Nicole Tadgell said...

I'm so sorry for your loss - sounds inadequate, I know. My all your memories be sweet, may the pain soften with time.


monogirl said...

Ohhh even as a kitten he had that serious look and cock to his head!

Linda S. Wingerter said...

He did!

Thanks so much, ladies.

Liz said...

Many good wishes being sent yor way. Losing a pet (we have cats, too) is so very, very hard.

Here's something that may help -- or at least make you smile/cry in recognition. It's Tatianna ~ Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend, a memoir written by Tatianna's owner, who had her for 15 years, nursing her through kidney disease. You'll feel like you've met a kindred spirit.

I read the book cover to cover; couldn't put it down.

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Thank you. :)

Dawn Alice Rogers said...

I am so sorry to hear about your kitty. We just had to put down one of our 13-year-old brother cats last month. It sucks. Rob kept hearing him meow for a few days after. Then he said to him that it was "ok for him to go". Then he did not hear him anymore. I am convinced our cats come back to us in the form of future cats we have yet to meet.
Love and hugs to you.

Wild Bill, Meg, Jazzman said...

Hi Linda, This is Bill ( the other photographer at the dnaces) Megans husband. Sorry to hear of your loss of your long time pet friend. I have a daughter her in NEw Haven that is unable to keep her cat any longer and wondered if you would be interestd at all in saving it from the unknown? Megan will be at the prolouge so you could talk to her but I will see you at the finale as well. Love to hang with you guys as in a chance meeting if your up for it. We are in New Haven until July 2oth.

suzanne.artist said...

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Cheesy. What an idyllic life he led to be a part of your family. I believe he romps among the best-loved pets in a zone so comfortable his spirit soars as he peeps down to check in on you.

Cats rule, just ask them.

ChatRabbit said...

Oooh, I'm sorry Linda- we've been thru a very similar thing lately:

It rather sucks. But at least we had these good furry souls around with us for a long time.

Sandie Lee said...

Too cute for words. I just want to cuddle that cutie.