I had something else planned for the blog post this week, but you’ll see it next week. Why? Because we had a death in our family, and I need the catharsis of writing about my baby. Last Wednesday morning, Ed woke me up to tell me something was wrong with Jody. I know moms aren’t supposed to have favorites, but it really wasn’t any secret which kitty baby was mine. And in the blink of an eye, literally, he was gone.
We have no idea what happened, and neither does the vet. I think it was a heart attack. I researched, and yes, cats can have them, too. It’s not quite as rare as I thought. Our cats normally die from old age, around 18-20 years old. Jody was only about 8 ½ years old. Ed and I occasionally worry about our old cats, but here was one of the youngest, gone way too soon. Unreal. Actually, kind of hard to wrap my head around.
Thankfully I have friends who understand our babies are family, so they know how much it hurts. They have fur babies of their own and it’s amazing how attached we all get to our furry friends. Jody was my shadow. Occasionally, Ed would say something like, “That’s weird. Jody’s in my office.” Other than his occasional visits with his father, he was normally harassing me. He was particularly adept at laying on my chest in such a way that allowed me to type on the laptop or play solitaire on the iPad. No easy trick, I can assure you.
Years ago, I bought an adorable small wooden plaque with the outline of a cat on it. It hangs outside our front door. In the really olden days, well before my time, that was the symbol hobos looked for. It stands for “kind lady lives here,” which means they could usually get food from the homeowner. Hobos don’t wander the streets nowadays looking for that sign, but I am firmly convinced that stray cats know exactly what it means. That’s the only possible explanation for why so many seem to show up at our house, and, of course, have kittens. Although, I suppose the food we leave out for the stray cats might be a contributing factor.
Most of our inside babies came from the yard. Like Button, whose mother had a litter on top of the house (weird) and then dropped one of them off the roof. Button ended up inside, not hurt but apparently abandoned by mom. Not sure why momma cat dropped her off the roof, because Button was cute as a button, which became her name. So, I ended up with a baby kitten I had to bottle feed. And, btw, she is now Ed’s cat. Doesn’t want a whole lot to do with me. Ungrateful, no?
At any rate, Jody didn’t just show up. One of our babies died, and it was the third death we had in a very short period of time. Two from old age and one from a horrible bout with cancer. After several surgeries and a ton of money, we had to make the hard decision. There wasn’t going to be a good outcome and Boots was suffering. Once that was done, we were both in a funk, so we went to the Animal Defense League to look for a kitten.
Ed said we should get a gray kitten, because we didn’t have one. There were numerous gray kitties running around the “Cat House” and Ed liked a gray tabby named Dallas. There was another gray tabby named Houston, and several others with equally strange names. None of them tugged at my heart strings. The lady at the ADL asked if I was looking for any particular cat. I told her we wanted a gray one. She asked if I’d seen the one still in the cage. I hadn’t.
She took him out. A tiny little solid gray and white scared-to-death kitten. I held him up and told him how cute he was. He hissed at me. I laughed at the audacity and reminded him I was much bigger than him. And…told Ed to put Dallas down because Milan was going home with us. FYI—they had run out of cool cat names and resorted to city names. Hence, Milan. Stupid name for a cat.
And that’s how we got Jody. If there is such a thing as a perfect cat, it would be him. He loved to cuddle, came when called, would chase a laser light until I was exhausted, would never even consider using something other than the litter box for his private business, thought his scratching should be done on the scratching post and not the sofa, and loved his mother’s cooking. Perfect cat.
After Jody died, the other kitty babies seemed to sense that things weren’t right, and our house was strangely quiet most of the day. The normal kitty Olympics didn’t happen until way late on Wednesday night, and then it only involved two cats, not the normal three or four in a foot race. Even Bobby, who normally won’t let me catch him unless it’s after one o’clock in the morning was friendly. Not sure what that’s all about, but he’s my “special” kitty, so he can do what he wants. Shadow, our solid black rescue cat, took up residence on my chest and stayed there for a very long time. They knew.
There are some theologians who believe animals have souls. That’s a nice thought, because it means the Rainbow Bridge isn’t just a theory, it might be true. I would rather listen to any song by Mercy Me than pretty much anybody else. Their most well-known song is “I can only imagine.” They made a movie from that song, and it’s about what it will be like in Heaven. I flashed on that song after Jody died.
I wonder why God chose not to tell us how it will be in Heaven. He dropped a lot of hints, but we really do have more questions than answers. He gave us just enough to know we want to go there, and definitely not the other way, but not enough to know exactly what it will be like. I know God wants us to be happy, so I find it hard to believe that Heaven won’t have animals in it. How could a human being possibly be happy if there aren’t animals in Heaven?
I have been known to say that if there aren’t cats in Heaven, I don’t want to go. I’m pretty sure Father knows that’s just a saying and not how I really feel, because under no circumstances do I want to miss being in Heaven. But can you imagine a life without animals? I’m not talking about everyone having to become a vegetarian due to lack of another food source, I’m talking about how much animals are a big part of our lives. My best friend loves her horse almost as much as her husband. (Maybe more.) Another friend has two obnoxious dachshunds that are every bit her children. My mother treated her toy poodle better than she treated us. That might be an exaggeration, but not by much. My mother used to say my dad loved his dogs more than her. They were great dogs, but not sure that was true. Another friend is still devastated over the loss of his favorite kitty several years ago, even though there are others running around his house. Bottom line, most people love their animals every bit as much as they love their families.
That is especially true in Jody’s case. He’s my profile picture on Facebook, I’m holding him in the picture on the “About Me” page of my website, and he’s the wallpaper on my iPad. I’ve thought about changing all that, but pretty sure it won’t happen. When I went to bed last night, my heart still broke when he wasn’t asleep in my recliner, where he was every night when I went to bed. I’m positive it’ll get better, but for now it’s comforting to know I can still see him whenever I want, even if it is just a picture. And just writing about him has helped, so thank you for indulging me.
I really do wish the Bible was clearer on this particular issue. I know I’ll see the people I lost again, no doubt in my mind about that. The only peace we get when someone dies is the knowledge that they’re gone for just a little while. Death isn’t the end of their story. That’s what gets us through the overwhelming pain of losing a child, spouse, friend, or parent. It would be nice if we had that same assurance about our furry friends. So, what do you think? Pets in Heaven? Yes or no?