For those very few of you out there who haven’t heard, Pippin died sometime overnight last night. It had been difficult over the last few days watching her body slowly shut down, but I’m positive that she was comfortable and at peace throughout. It was how we all should be able to leave this mortal coil–peacefully, painlessly, and at our own pace.
As I’ve said in multiple places to multiple people, Pippin survived 21 years, 2 states, 7 homes, 2 cats, 1 dog, 2 hamsters, scores of fish, my wife and 3 kids.
She was, shall I say, less than thrilled when Jenni and I moved in together. But she made her peace with it. Jenni brought with her another cat, and the two of them weren’t thrilled, but were tolerant of each other. Then we moved to North Dakota, got a third cat, who, for lack of a mother figure, was taught almost everything he knew by Pippin. It was to the point where his meow sounded exactly like hers, just weaker.
Then Patrick came along. More moves. Then the girls. And Pippin would express her disgust with each, but would move on with the pulse of the family. She became as attached to us as we were to her.
No one anywhere can argue she had a difficult life. And I think that even through she could be pretty insistent about her need to eat at 4 a.m and p.m. every day, she wouldn’t complain that things were tough at all.
She was one of the smartest cats I’ve ever met, and most certainly had the biggest personality–Katushka, the first cat I’d had with my family when I was a kid, was a regal queen and refused to let too much emotion show. Pippin, on the other hand, let it all hang out unapologetically.
I got her when she was a six-week-old kitten. She had been at the humane society for just days by the time I bought her. I had only two requirements for any cat I bought, and perhaps they were unusual, but they were what I was looking for: female, and talkative.
I’d combed over the cages of playing and sleeping kittens, and almost was settled on a boy who was talkative, but wasn’t quite exactly what I was looking for. Until a little voice by my feet caught my attention.
In a cage on the floor, with all of her siblings asleep in the corner, there was a little white and grey fuzz ball with a huge head and a little tiny body. She had a pink neck band (indicating she was a girl), and she was mewing at the top of her lungs.
I took her out of the cage and she started crawling all over me, mewing the whole way. I think I chose her right at that minute.
There would be times–many times–that I might wish she wasn’t so loud. And I won’t forget her for that. But mostly, and I kind of think this is odd, I’ll miss her smell.
For many years, she slept with me, then with Jenni and I. She’d frequently sleep between my legs, or more often on my chest, very close to my head. And because she was a very clean, fastidious cat, she had a particular smell that was always comforting and became very familiar.
I held her close last night and smelled her head, as she tried to mew then, opening her mouth but with no sound coming out. She knew what I was doing and maybe just wanted to say good-bye herself. And I held her close this morning too after she was gone, taking in that same smell again for the last time.
21 years is a very long time to have any pet. And it gets so easy to just take it for granted they’re there and need to be fed and taken care of and probably even ignored or shut in the basement. But isn’t it amazing how much they become part of the family and in the end everyone comes to miss them in some way?
We’ll get more cats at some point around here–it’s just part of the family culture. But none will ever replace Pippin.
See you tomorrow. I’ll resume the recap of the grand vacation. We’re entering the second week of travel.