|New pals, 2006|
|First day home—Labor Day Tuesday, 2006|
Chris and I had been married a few months. I was concerned Pounce would be lonely when I found a job. We passed the Escambia County Pet Animal Shelter in Pensacola and I said, “Let’s just see if they have any kittens.”
“I don’t want to get a cat today,” Chris said.
“Me neither, let’s just see if they even have any kittens, or when they might get kittens,” I said.
Half an hour later Chris had a sweet, gray kitten snuggled up in the crook of his arm, purring. I didn’t argue when Chris suggested taking him home. We brought him to the front desk and discovered he’d just been brought in that morning. But the lady at the desk pointed the eraser end of a pencil at the clock. It was 4:45pm on the Friday before Labor Day, 2006.
“It’s too late to fill out the paperwork before we close,” she said dispassionately. “And we’re closed Monday.”
We asked her to save him for us. She said she couldn’t. So we arrived first thing in the morning on Tuesday. The kitten was still there, but not for long! They gave him to us in a cardboard box. Tomcat squeaked the whole way home and began pestering Pounce immediately. He kept squeaking whenever he wanted something. Squeak squeak squeak! Squeak!
“He’s not a Tomcat! He’s a MOUSE!” I said. And so he was.
Our first apartment was tiny. The litter box was in our bedroom. We got fined for having two cats instead of one. My elderly neighbor (the one who used to come over when she heard Chris’ car pull up and say, ‘when’s our man getting home?’) tattled on me for letting Mouse play outside. We soon realized Mouse loved EVERYONE. And licked a lot.
Chris and I were browsing books and having a coffee date one evening about that time. I flipped through a silly book of reasons Florida is great. Number 60-something, right after Disneyworld, read, “One Very Important Mouse.” That became Mouse’s special moniker.
|Pounce, moving boxes out of Pensacola|
Microchips, FAVN test, shots, airplane tickets so expensive you would not believe—we went through a great deal of trouble to get our cats travel-worthy!
|The cats knew a family Easter picture was a dumb idea, even if I didn’t. I’d just had my wisdom teeth out.|
|SERE-iously, I thought you knew I was here. Guess the cat’s out of the bag on that one.|
|Christmas morning, 2008|
We were not prepared for Japanese winters. We were cold. The cats went into snuggle overdrive. It was awesome. Soon Japan started to feel like home. Kitties meowing at the door, and poking their heads through the shoji screens because they hear your scooter pull up and they want some more food, and getting underfoot trying to rush out the door to stretch and roll on the doorstep before getting shoo-ed back inside, and piling into your lap as soon as you sit anywhere, and sleeping on your ankles—well, that will make anywhere feel like home.
|Let’s watch some AFN (armed forces network)!|
|Don’t know what’s with the outfit, but see? cats: always underfoot! LOVE!|
|it’s usually warm in the kitchen|
Most of our Japan tour was pre-kids. So…we played a lot of games with the cats. Chris dressed up Pounce like a samurai. I put a feather collar on Mouse. I made them kimonos! I got this cool leather carpet bag at a shrine sale with old travel stickers and embossed with an M. Chris said M was for Mouse, put Mouse in it, carried him around, and broke it. I discovered I could attract Mouse with Mousetraps: any plastic bag. Why?! Both cats rubbed and rubbed against a vintage fishing float I brought home one month from the Yamato market.
|Japan, August 2010|
|Japan, August 2010|
|live animals, Narita Airport, March 2011|
They stayed at my parents’ house for nine months. My parents strongly encouraged me to make them outside cats. The cats themselves needed little encouragement. One morning I ate some yogurt and watched Mouse catch a bird. He raised a paw, the bird flapped, Mouse re-caught it. He was so excited about this he raised his paw again—the bird flew off, Mouse in pursuit. The squirrels were an ever-present adversary as well. My parents’ neighbor knocked on the door one afternoon and handed me Mouse’s collar. They’d found it way around the corner. The cats were certainly enjoying themselves. I cried when we returned home to Japan with no one to greet us at the door, to Chris’ annoyance.
We had Isaac, moved back to Florida, and drove to Texas in time for Thanksgiving. We were excited to introduce Isaac and the kitties. None of them were particularly excited, but it sure was nice to have a lap cat in front of the fire on cold mornings. Hannah and Justin brought us the cats about a week after we finally moved into our house.
|“Happy to be here. Not so happy with…YOU,” says Mouse in Texas, March 2011.|
|Moving in again! Home in Pace, January, 2012|
They loved being outside cats in Texas. In Florida, we started letting them out during the day, in the evening, and eventually, when we couldn’t stand the yowling at night anymore, all night. Our neighbor kids—Dillon and Faith—got to know the cats, Isaac, and us. Dillon wants to be a cat whisperer when he grows up. He’s always talking to Mouse and Pounce.
|Home at last — Pace, January 2012|
Isaac and Mouse were special buddies. Mouse walked slowly in front of a delighted, crawling Isaac. Isaac tried to catch Mouse’s tail as it flicked back and forth, peeking out from under the couch. Mouse always slept in Isaac’s room, under his crib, to my GREAT annoyance. When Mouse was done with his nap, he would yowl at the door and wake up the baby. So Isaac and I started checking under his bed for kitties as part of our nap time routine.
Isaac and I had to spend months at home this year after his surgery and the cats were part of our little household. Similarly, this summer, when I wasn’t feeling well, the cats piled onto me and purred their support.
By now it’s obvious where this post is going. Mouse started having trouble breathing this summer. I took him to the vet. They said he looked fine, and maybe he had kitty asthma. There was talk of a kitty inhaler. I thought that was absurd so they gave us anti-allergy pills and delicious pill pockets. Both the cats loved those. Then Mouse’s eye got teary. I wiped it; it seemed to get better. The morning of Isaac’s birthday party, Mouse’s eye bulged. We discussed an afternoon vet visit, but by the time we returned home it looked better.
Chris flew late Friday night. I let the cats in. Mouse stretched leisurely on the front step. His eye was teary again. I fed them spoiled kitten food (canned cat food) and they both slept in our room. Chris was delayed getting home, and having them there made me feel better. Saturday morning, we ran around getting the house ready for my sister’s visit. In the middle of it, we noticed Mouse looking miserable. Big eye, trouble breathing. He felt hot. Chris took him to the vet. An expensive round of tests showed Mouse’s discolored eye had a tumor. They proposed surgery to remove his eye, but said it might not be possible to remove all the tumor. And it might be cancerous anyway. He was in a lot of pain. Chris called me, and we decided to put Mouse down. We didn’t want him to suffer.
|Buddies — Pace, February 2013|
He had a good, exciting life with us. His eye has been discolored for years, so it seems like he defeated the tumor for a long time. We rescued him from the shelter in Pensacola, took him around the world to smell interesting smells, and we buried him here in our backyard, beneath the hibiscuses.
I miss seeing Mouse curled up napping on our bed, watching cartoons with Isaac. Mouse was so gentle with him, and I always pictured Mouse sleeping at Isaac’s feet once Isaac got a big boy bed. I feel such a sense of loss, and I think I’ll be mocked for years by my sister/parents for how much weeping there was during her visit.
I miss him. It’s hard. Pounce has been jumpy. The neighbor kids ask where Mouse is. Pounce sits near the spot where we buried Mouse. I get that he’s ‘just’ a cat—Just a cat who’s moved around the world with us, just a cat who comforted me when I was all alone, just a cat who I’ve spent more time with than any other critter over the last seven years, except possibly Pounce. Just a Very Important Mouse.
|Buddies — Pace, Isaac’s second birthday|
“Many people grieve deeply when their pets die. Some have told me they’re embarrassed or even ashamed at this. Their loss is great, and they long for hope that they’ll see their pets again.
If we regard pets as God-created companions entrusted to our care, it’s only right that we should experience grief at their loss. Who made these endearing qualities in animals? God. Who made us to be touched by them? God. Do we love animals because of sin and the Curse? No. We love animals because God created us–and them–to love each other. We can turn people into idols, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong to love people. The same is true of animals.
We know the stories of pets who’ve risked their lives and died for their owners because the animals’ instinct for love and loyalty outweighed their instinct for self-preservation. It’s noble for a person to lay down his or her life for others, so animals who do the same must also be noble. We needn’t be embarrassed either to grieve their loss or to want to see them again. If we believe God is their creator, that he loves us and them, that he intends to restore his creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but also expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth.”
~ “Heaven,” by Randy Alcorn, p. 401
|sometimes it feels like he’s still with us….|