too soon

Morgan P. Kittycat

That’s what I called him, in my sillier moods. He never did tell me what the P stood for.

He had the softest, most lovely fur on the planet. He felt even silkier than a rabbit. It was an incredible tactile experience to pet him. It shed in clumps all over the house every spring, and I swear sometimes he shed enough to make another cat. He had one blue eye and one gold eye. When I took him in to the vet on Wednesday, the technician who took his temperature and weighed him made the delighted comment that one of his eyes glowed green when she took his picture, and the other glowed red. It was rather disconcerting when I would come downstairs for something in the middle of the night. And when he was happy, he drooled. I’d never had a cat who drooled before. Two kinds, one watery that dripped right away, one thick that hung from the sides of his mouth. For the first few years I used to think he would grow out of it. When he hit five or thereabouts, I finally gave up and kept a box of tissues on the end table next to the wing chair to wipe his mouth with when I petted him. He loved it, and would butt up against the tissue, making his mark.

His ears were normal when he was born. When he was about nine years old, he developed hematomas in his pinnae, the part of the ear that sticks up. The blood blisters, first in one ear, then in the other, thickened his ears to over a quarter of an inch. The cure was to drain them, then to “quilt” the two layers of skin together so that it couldn’t happen again. After that, people sometimes asked me if he was a Scottish fold. No. He was just a garden variety part Oriental, part domestic shorthair. With odd eyes, an incredibly sweet face, and fur that makes me want to cry knowing I’ll never touch it again.

I have to admit, when he first came to live with me, I thought he was a bit dim. That was a slander on a cat with more common sense, if not brain power, than any other cat I’ve ever met. The few times I ever had to medicate him, he would see me coming with the pill or the syringe, do the feline equivalent of a shrug, and open his mouth. His brother, who was an otherwise exceptionally intelligent cat, would start World War III. Morgan knew what had to be done and whether he or not he could understand why, he trusted me to know what I was doing and why I was doing it. And he forgave me almost immediately for just about anything. Either that or he had a very short memory. I prefer to think it was the former.

I think this was my very favorite Morgan photo

He was also the most limp-wristed cat I’ve ever had. If I had a nickel for every person who’s said that to me about him, I could take us out to a very nice lunch. But he was also the cuddliest, most loving animal it has ever been my pleasure to live with. As soon as I sat down, if I didn’t immediately pick up my needlework (he always left my needlework alone, although, like his brother, he thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in unfinished quilts when I wasn’t working on them), even if he’d been asleep the moment before, he was right there, ready to jump in my lap and snuggle. Whenever I had company, he’d be right there on my lap, looking at my guests with an expression that said, as clearly as if he’d stated it out loud, “this is my mom.” I’m told that some folks found it a bit intimidating [wry g].

The ultimate diagnosis was kidney failure, and he went downhill very quickly. To the best of my knowledge, he was fine two weeks ago. Not a shock for an almost-eighteen-year-old cat, or it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been in such deep denial about how old both of them had become. I’m lucky they lived as long as they did.

Morgan, like his brother, was a most absolute and excellent cat (as the Dauphin said about his horse in Henry V). As I said when I eulogized Linnet four and a half short months ago, it’s hard to talk of one without the other. Morgan and I grieved together after Linnet died. He made Linnet’s death easier to bear.

Now that both of them are gone, the house feels incredibly empty. I know it probably won’t stay that way for long – once I get back from a planned trip in August, I’ll probably be going to the humane society for a new pair of kittens. They’ll have enormous pawprints to fill. But a person can’t do without kitty hugs indefinitely. At least this person can’t.

I hope both Morgan and Linnet approve.