Monday, September 01, 2008

Hand Carved Box

Halloween Kitten!

Somewhere in my early twenties, I convinced Darryl that I needed a kitten. He already had a cat, Samantha. She was all white with striking blue eyes. She was also a little crazy, but otherwise a nice girl. None the less, I wanted my own cat and my sister managed to find me a gem.
Bela was all black with the most striking yellow eyes I had ever seen. He also had the biggest claws I'd ever seen too. He looked very much like a little bear cub. I wasn't sure he was going to be able to make it in our house with Samantha there. His first day home with us, he shook every time she came near him. That didn't last long. Bela very quickly found his bearings and became the dominant male in the house, dare I say he even challenged Darryl for the role of numero uno. He was my pride and joy and I lavished him with attention. I took him to bed with me and I even taught him to sit on command. Bela was also a terrific hunter. I know most cats are good at that, but Bela had skills. One of his more famous kills came after a weekend when Darryl and I went to the beach. I decided it would be best if we left both cats indoors for the two days we were gone. My mom would stop by and make sure they had plenty of food. Big mistake. Bela, if nothing else, was an outdoorsman. Two days in our apartment drove him nuts. I knew we were in trouble as soon as we were in the driveway. One of the venetian blinds in our living room was destroyed. The apartment didn't look much better. There was a lamp overturned and things were knocked off the tables. Bela took off outside as soon as he could. Later that day, Darryl and I were standing outside visiting with friends. We were all standing next to a bush that was full of birds chirping away. Bela came over to us, sauntered into the bush and grabbed not one, but two birds. There he was, directly in front of all of us with a bird squirming frantically in his mouth and another in his paw, pinned to the ground. The rest of the birds were still chirping away in the bush, completely oblivious to the carnage. We were all dumbfounded. That was years ago and we still talk about it to this day because it was such a site, and such a statement. That cat was clearly saying "Don't you lock me in the house like that again or you're next!". From then on, we left him outside whenever we went away.

Bela was by no means a perfect cat. Temperamental might be a good word for him. Someone could be petting him and think everything was alright, but then he'd turn around and bite them. He kind of got a reputation as being a bad ass that way. He was very clearly my cat. I knew how to read the signs of when enough was enough, but he also gave me way more leeway than anyone else. I'd often grab him up, hug him tight and plant a big kiss on his head much to the amazement of my kids. They would see this and say "Momma, was does Bela only love you?" "He loves you, too" I'd say "Just don't touch him."

Bela has been there for almost all the major events in my life thus far. He was there when I got married, had three kids, and moved from the apartment to this house. I knew his end was near. He was 15 and not looking great. He'd gotten very skinny and pretty much just slept outside in the sunny spots he loved. He still seemed like his old self to me and wasn't feeling any pain. Two weeks ago, my husband found him dead. He'd gone to sleep on my mom's back porch and just never woke up. Yesterday I picked up his remains at the vet's office. The company that cremated him had sealed him in a lovely hand carved box. I thanked the office staff and then sat in my car and cried. I've had a lot of pets in my life, but I'm having the hardest time getting over the loss of this one. Forgetting the routines is the hardest part. I still want to go to the door and call him in at night, still want him to sleep on my feet and beg for my food.

He was one of a kind and I miss him every day.

A very pissed of Bela. I put a collar on him that day. It didn't last. He had it off in no time.