March 12, 2011
Filed Under (Life in the PNW, Noted in passing) by transom

In 1996, I adopted two kittens from the Humane Society in Lancaster, PA. At the recommendation of my sister, I had the attendant help me select two males from the litter of 8. I named them Bob & Ray after the radio team of Bob Goulding & Ray Elliott, who I only knew from the Letterman show (and not their lifetime Radio performances). A trip to the vet a few days later, assured me that I was the proud new father of healthy male kittens.

In a miracle of science, when it came time to have them neutered, the vet told me that he would be unable to neuter Bob. Bob needed to be spayed. Apparently it is hard to “sex” a kitten before – Bob was actually a female. So faced with the naming débâcle, I quickly punted and decided that Bob was short for “Roberta” and we’d keep the name. Not that it mattered, it wasn’t like she came when you called.

Bob on Her Garden Throne

This week after 15 years together, I had to make the decision to euthanize Bob. The decision itself wasn’t hard. She had suddenly stopped eating two days before and the vet confirmed that the ravages of hyperthyrodism (which had taken Ray three years earlier) and a failing kidney left no room for a good outcome. She had been clearly exhausted and only wanted to be curled up next to me.

Her death hasn’t been quite as hard on me as when I lost Ray. Ray’s death was unexpected and came in such a way that guilt and grief compounded the pain. With Bob, I was able to be present and be with her all the way and there to comfort and hold her in the Vet’s office. Instead, the tears come when I look under the bed to find toys and balls of paper that she secreted away while playing or find yet another jar of cat treats stuck in a corner.

Bob wasn’t as attention-focused that her brother was. She barely had a need for me. But from the moment I brought her home until last Monday night, every night her place at bedtime was curled up leaning against my right hip. That is until the sun came through the window and she realized it was time for breakfast. Then she took on the role of a reverse alarm clock – poking me in the face like a un-snooze alarm until I realized it was time to feed her.

I don’t have the words or the space to express how much these two small souls have meant in my life. They have been confidants, caretakers, the cause of amusement and frustration, and founts of joy and love regardless of what else was going on in my life.

I’ll never be able to replace them but one day, I’ll adopt two more kittens and start the adventure again.


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