Cats and humans may have been living together for as long as 10,000 years. In 2004, researchers found the remains of a cat and a human buried together in a 9,500 year-old gravesite in Cyprus.
By that timescale, the dozen years my family and our two cats lived together are microscopic, almost undetectable. But those twelve and a half years were, as it turned out, feline lifetimes. Our cats died this month, two weeks apart, and today I’m finding it hard to remember life before Pudding and Leia.
Born in an East Dallas warehouse in the relentless heat of a Texas summer, the kittens were taken in by a rescuer who cared for them, along with two other feral litters, until they were old enough to be adopted. We were the lucky ones who took them home.
To the uninitiated, the cats resembled each other,
but they couldn’t have been more different.
Pudding was a big lug of a cat, sweet-tempered and laid-back, the kind of guy you might find in the corner bar, buying a pitcher of beer for his buds.
All his life, Pudding adored my son, hustling to the door when he got home from school and hanging out in his room, like a pal.
Leia, on the other hand, was the runt. Until her last years, she spent an inordinate amount of time hiding in closets, avoiding contact with people. Except for me. Leia was crazy about me. Head over heels. Smitten. Gaga. She’d gaze at me as I worked with a slightly demented intensity, like an over-needy lover desperate for an opening.
I loved her dearly, but I avoided looking in her direction, since even inadvertent eye contact could unleash a feline litany of demands, reproaches and yearnings. One night, as my husband tried to read, my son filmed Leia and me.
The apartment has grown suddenly larger with the loss of these two creatures. Small in body, and large in spirit, they gave us joy. We miss them.