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The Aged Among Us

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Sometime in the last week, my cat turned 20. I say “sometime” because I don’t know her exact birth date, but I know the week she was born, or mostly know: because when I got her from the humane society, she was six weeks old, and it was Mothers’ Day weekend.

So Pippin is 20. And still mostly going strong. Sure, she sometimes has a hard time jumping up into bed, she has a hard time sometimes keeping food down, she’s temperamental, grumpy, quick to express her displeasure with me, and she’s cold most of the time. But she generally still seems content in her life, even though it was invaded by a wife and three kids.

Twenty years ago, she fit completely onto my hand. She was all head, with a scrawny body and a really scrawny tail. Her head bobbled when she meowed, and she purred all the time she was with me, and was the only cat I’ve ever met who could look tired because she could get bags under her eyes. I got her because I wanted a female cat that talked, and 20 years later, I’d be thrilled to be able to shut her up. Or at least shut her up at 4 a.m. when she’s decided she’s hungry and I should be feeding her. Or at 5 a.m. when she thinks I should be waking up (which is right for most days, but this past week was the exception she couldn’t quite get).

I’ve joked that I’ve had my cat in my life longer than my wife, which is true. And I think both relationships have turned out wonderfully and been great for all involved. I love them both very, very much.

I gave Pippin some tuna tonight for her birthday, but just a little because she’d eat too much too fast and throw it all back up, and I want her to be able to enjoy it. She spent the rest of the night sitting or laying at our feet at the dining room table as we had a family game night. She likes being with “her people,” even if she may not necessarily appreciate them fully: she hates it when not everyone is here at night, because that breaks her sense of normal. If Patrick’s at camp, or the family is at a church lock-in, she’s painfully bent out of shape and goes around the whole house crying at the top of her lungs, which is cute, because it shows just how much she cares for all of us.

Or at least that’s what I tell myself. She could just be like most cats and not give a damn and this is just for show.

See you tomorrow.