Pets: Loving Them, Losing Them…

China's first picture, the week he found her.
China’s first picture, the week he found her.

We’re talking about all things “pets” this week. One of the hard things about having pets, is losing them. You, unfortunately, have had to go through this recently with your cat. How old was your cat and what was her name? When did you get her?

“It was April of 1992 when I found her at work under a pile of skids that I had moved with a forklift. I already had a cat and didn’t want one, but this cat was so damn cute I had to take her. She was so small. I took her to the vet and was told she probably wouldn’t make it because she was taken away from her mother too young. But they told me to bottle feed her baby formula and, basically, be her mother. That’s what I did. I named her China Cat after my favorite Grateful Dead song and she was with me until two months ago, when she passed at the age of 23.”

Did you grow up having pets?
“When I lived with my mother, we had a cat. She was an all black cat named Spooky that hated my guts. Probably because I pulled her tail and messed her up when she was sleeping. Looking back, I understand why she hated my guts. But I’ve always been a cat guy.”

Do you think there is a definite difference between “cat people” and “dog people”?
“I can’t say I’m not a “dog person” but, my problem with dogs is that I fall in love with animals, all animals, but dogs don’t live long enough for me and I just don’t want to be heartbroken every ten years. It’s like losing a family member to me and I just don’t need that pain. But as far as “dog person” or “cat person”, I can’t say I know a difference. You’re still bringing a pet into your life and making yourself the most important thing in that animals life. The only thing your pet has in its entire life is its owner. I love that so many people are willing to take on that responsibility.”

Good point. And China lived extraordinarily long. Not many people have their pets for 23 years.
“She did. I think a lot of that had to do with how much I loved her. Still do. I just cried recently and it’s been a couple months.”

Why do you feel people benefit from having pets?
“Mostly unconditional love. China Cat was with me more than half of my life. I went through pain, sadness and divorce and was with me through all my bad times. It’s like she knew I was down and was there for me. If I was sad, China cat would jump on my lap and to me, she was saying “hey, cheer up buddy, I love you. We can get through anything.” Sounds weird but that’s what I thought she was saying to me. And it worked so many times. Pets open up your heart. Pets make you feel loved at the worst of times. That to me, is the benefit of having a pet.”

A final photo, the day China passed away.
A final photo, the day China passed away.

That doesn’t sound weird at all. I’ve had that experience with my pets too. They love us unconditionally.
On a lighter note, some cats, or animals in general, do some odd or funny things. Did China have any of those quirks?

“She did. She wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom alone. She would scratch at the door and meow till I opened up. Then she would sit on the sink till I was done my shower or whatever was goin’ on in there. She also slept on my head every day for years and years. And if I moved her she would cry and meow in my face till I let her have her spot. It was annoying as hell and cost me many nights of sleep but she was my kid and anyone would sacrifice anything for their kid. And I did. I sleep much better now that she’s gone but I’d do anything to hear her meow in my face at 4am just one more time.”

Do you think you’ll ever get a pet again?
“I have been saying that the loss was so great that I couldn’t ever imagine having another pet. I could never replace my China Cat. But, I see pictures of little, cute kittens and it kind of makes me want another one. So maybe one day but not right now.”

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