I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out, so maybe writing will help.
Cats are strange animals. Oddly self-reliant. How does the joke go? Everyone imagines a cat thinking, “Yeah, I’ll live with you and eat your food… but I could be outta here in a split second, sucka.”
That’s exactly how Leela was. My then-future-wife and I were in Brooklyn and this raggedy looking cat had been coming to our window begging for food for two years. When it was a beautiful warm June night, we’d say “piss off, cat.” But when it was a cold January night, we’d usually find something in the fridge (ham worked well!) and put it on a plate for her.
Of course, you do that once and cats love routine. Suddenly, she’s back like never before.
The problem with New York City street cats is you don’t know whether they’re just a neighborhood cat or a stray cat. Even the most well-fed cat is a food-slut, ready to give away salacious purring for some sweet, sweet ham.
But one night, after a particularly long “Rock Band” jam that ended at 3am (the video game, I’m not cool enough to be in an actual band), and there she was, ready to rub against my leg and beg for more ham. That was the tipping point: this was probably not an owned cat.
So waited a few days, checking on her at 9am and 9pm and weird hours in between. She was always outside. Crap, by feeding her, we’re probably as close to an owner as she gets. Time to form a cat-napping plan.
It was too easy. Just bring some of that sexy ham out and creepy-abduct her when she takes the bait. Luckily, cats are stupid and it worked like a charm.
Plan accomplished. It’s night one, she’s our cat now. In our apartment, she seems okay with her new circumstances. Overnight, we leave the window open so she doesn’t get hot. Granted, we had these thick bars on the window. We’re on the first floor, so it’s not a big jump, but this little shit would have to squirm to the size of a Snickers bar to get out.
…which she did. We wake up the next morning to a cat-less apartment, feeling like horrible people. “We’ll never see her again, we tried our best, oh man.”
But did I mention that cats are stupid? About an hour after we woke up and discovered she was missing, she came back to beg at the window for more ham. What a dumb-ass!
But the sweetest cat you’ve ever met. She was always prim-and-proper. Feet always together, purring constantly. The cutest meow you’ve ever heard. We moved to Minnesota with her, where she got to discover the beauty of a real backyard. She gave us nine years of love before a tumor in her mouth made her stop eating.
She’s gone today. I’m still bawling, I guess the writing didn’t help.
Rest in peace, Leela. I’ll miss you so much.
[first posted on reddit.com/r/petloss, go read some other people’s pain, it’s super real]