I have been thoroughly enjoying the kittens I’ve fostered and socialized this year, quite a difference and, honestly, a break from the older and hospice fosters who’ve spent time in my foster room. But I haven’t forgotten the importance of rescuing and fostering those cats who don’t have their lives ahead of them, who are here to be kept comfortable and know they are loved until it’s their time to transition off to another existence. I’m remembering Kennedy as I review last year’s photos one particular morning when, although many things just weren’t right and weren’t ever going to be right, and he wasn’t going to recover, and it just wasn’t fair, he and I both found peace and happiness in the simple things that were right: shopping for cat food, my anticipation of how happy he’d be, his enjoyment of it, and our love of each other.
. . . . . . .
I am walking slowly down the aisle of canned cat food in a pet supply store looking for any small can of paté style, any brand. Each one I find I consider the flavor and think of Kennedy, for whom I’m buying them, and how happy he’ll be when I give it to him. I’d love to stay with his “recovery” prescription diet but he doesn’t really need it, and to keep him otherwise on holistic, organic, grain-free foods so I won’t burden his body with ingredients unnecessary for a feline diet, but he needs variety at this point and I enjoy spoiling him a little, thinking how he nearly died of neglect just a few weeks ago, and though he has an end-of-life condition and his time is finite he is unconcerned about his near-death experience and looks forward to his day, and the food, and the affection.
I arrive home and tell him all about his new foods and pet him and show him all the cans and act as if I’m giving him his choice by rubbing his face on the one he wants, though he rubs on them all the same. But I’ve had one in mind from the beginning because he hadn’t eaten much that day. This flavor and variety has been a favorite with other geriatric or ill cats in the past and I’m sending happy anticipation to him as I show him the little can, let him rub his face on it and purr, then open the can, mix in his probiotic and some filtered water as he slowly walks a stiff figure “8” around my shins, bumping his head against my calf and purring some more.
I set it down in front of him. He immediately begins to eat, twitching his tail twice, emanating happiness. This in turn makes me emanate happiness. Perhaps he’s only eating it because he knows it will make me happy, and that will make him happy. Or perhaps it is because he is happy to feel special and loved, as likely he once was before finding himself ill and outdoors alone. Or perhaps he is aware his time is limited and he doesn’t want to waste any of it being unhappy. Perhaps it is all of the above. We fill the small bathroom with happy feelings.
He is not awake too often, but when he is, he is fully engaged. He looks at me bright-eyed every time, gets up and greets me and makes his little “hmmph!” noises, and slowly circles my legs and anticipates pets from his nose to his tail so he can stiffly put his tail in the air, and scritches on his head while he squints and makes smiley faces. And when any or all of the Five come to the baby gate, he struts over with a “hmmph!” and pokes one front paw and then the other through the mesh, often surprising the cat on the other side with a poke in the face, and this makes him happy too. When he has eaten a bit and within minutes of when I’ve left the room, he is back in his fleece bed in the box lid, having a little face wash, then relaxed and flat out sleeping on his side.
I remember this dance with other cats at this time in their lives, and even in this same room. These simple acts are all that are needed to make us both very happy in the moment, with ripples of happiness that carry on with the memories. Isn’t happy what it’s all about?
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