I don't recall the first time I saw him very clearly. He must have been a black-backed ball of fur. But I remember the second time. We had gone to our friends, the Carvers, to pick two kittens -- this was because we had finally hit step two of our three step plan. The plan went: have a plant that lives, have a pet that lives, have kits. It took us seven years to get a plant to live, and, while they were still alive, I wanted to leap onto the next step. -- I had picked out the little gray kitten that became Graymalken, and our friend Erin had picked out the little gray and gold kitten that became Brinna (both with us today)...but the third kitten, the black-backed one, was not there. Someone had taken him.
Just as we were about to head off home, with Graymalken and whatever other kitten I'd chosen, the people who had taken the little black and gray one returned. They did not want him. The kitten climbed out of his bag and ran straight into The Devil Dog, a huge black Lab mix known for his wildness and his affection. Did the kitten run? No. He hunched his back, puffed himself into a creature twice the size of his normal self, hissed, batted, and drove off that dog!
We named him Persues, after the hero.
Persie (Percy just seems too wimpy. Perse is Greek for "Destroyer") grew into an amazingly fluffy black and gray tiger. He was a wonderful cat, but like all cats, he has a few odd qualities, like the fact that he never pulled his claws in, so it always hurt when he walked on you, and he loved to sit as high up on your chest as he possibly could.
He had a little crick in his tail, just like another cat I had loved--but his tail was so fluffy, like a squirrels, only darker, that on one could see it.
Around then, I met a family who had cats and kids. They told me that before they had a child, their cat was their baby! Once the kid came, the cat was practically forgotten.
I was horrified. My kittens were my babies! I called them "the boys". We moved just to give them a place to go outside--I think animals are happier when they can go outside. I adored them.
Then the kids came. At seven years old, Orville did not even know the names of the three cats. The poor sweet creatures were barely ghosts in their experience...but they each came and sat with me when I read or prayed, and they took turns sleeping with me. Persie often sat on me...and often climbed on my books or papers. He loved doing that.
He ranged a lot, coming and going like a will-o-wisp, not involving himself in the turf battle between Graymalkin and Brinna, when she rejoined us a year or so later. One night, Bill and I were taking a walk near midnight, and we met a couple who was petting Persie. They had been feeding him for years. Ever since we moved down the street 15 houses, and they thought we'd abandoned him. They were surprised to discover I was Persie's owner. I was surprised to discover they had bought him a collar. (Weird that I met them the day they put it on him...wonder what I would have thought if I'd discovered him!" They called him Perseus, of course, because that's what his old collars had said.
They told me that the lady who lived down the road fed him, too. She was a nurse who came home at midnight. He knew when she came and waited for her.
A year or so ago, these folks moved. So, Perseus ate more at home. Recently, he had not been well. But I did not realize how much so until just last week. The next day, someone called me. They had found him and figured he must have been lost for weeks, he was so thin under his thick fur.
I sat with him until 2:30 am last night, when he left us. I sat and prayed, and felt filled with joy, despite that he went on. Today, we will bury him. He would have been 14 on April 19th, a bare two and a half weeks from today.
In Near Death Experience, people are often met by their animals when they 'die'. Apparently, there's a lovely animal heaven some claim to have visited.
I hope he's happy there. God watch over him.