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.


Anonymous Stephanie said...

The hunting and killing of squirels is what amazed me!
I am in tears as I type this; he was an amazing cat and will truly be missed and forever thought of. One of my favorite tricks you taught him was to fetch! I still cry over Nick, so I know how you feel, believe me.
I remember when he was a kitten, he had black tiger stripes! I have never seen a black tiger cat before. You could see them as he got older, too.
God bless you Bela; and say hi to Nick and Zak.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Great post, great cat. I'm all misty over here as well. Just sent an email to you with an old photo of Mr. Bela.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thanks guys. I still think about Nick too, Steph. He was a good dog.

Tim, thanks so much for the email and the great picture. It was awesome!

3:41 AM  
Anonymous the foxy mama said...

Oh Jenn, I am so very sorry! Bela was a beautiful cat and has been part of your family ever since I've known you. Words are inadequate for how sad I feel for you. Trevor has been gone for a year and a half and we still have a big empty hole where he used to reside in our hearts and lives. I am thankful (for you) that Bela passed peacefully and not at the hand of some out of control college twerp that resides near you. Rest in peace, Bela. You will be remembered by many...

7:48 AM  
Blogger Marianna said...

Oh wow, Jenn. I'm so very sorry to hear that. It's amazing that he bonded mostly to you... he sounds like he was a wonderful friend.


3:46 AM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

Just got a chance to read this now. Having gone thru this myself several times, I can say I do know how you feel. I also remember not so long ago picking up Daisy remains in a beatiful hand carved box and thinking, God I want her back! Not a day goes by that I do not think about her. Even now that we have Wendel and P-Nutt she is still missed.
Remember the good times and this will get you thru the hard times.
And if you want, I can find you another amazing Kitty..........well maybe one that is not such a good hunter as Bela!
and one that likes to be touched!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I think we'll need another kitty around here. Maybe for christmas....

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Nevermind a kitty; Lila needs a puppy! As does Aunt Steph!
We'll go shopping!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Candice said...

I hope you don't mind me linking to you from cjane, I also hope this is the first time I am contacting you, it is hard to keep track! I am trying to let people know about threads of love, a nie project I am starting, check it out at or on her benefit blog. Thanks! Love, Candice

9:28 PM  

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