The Name That No Human Research Can Discover -
My best friend Dawn's cat passed away last night.
Perkins was a Black Russian long hair of approximately 19 years age, which -- well, I don't know how old that would have been in Cat Years, but he was old. He'd lost most, if not all of his vision in the past year, and in the last several months he'd suffered from a slew of undignified, if not exactly painful maladies, all of which, despite a voracious appetite, reduced both his physical presence, and the effective size of his world to a corridor, a bathroom, and a familiar lap, where he apparently decided to call it quits at about 7:30 p.m. last night.
Needless to say, Dawn hasn't been taking it well, which is understandable. People have funny attachments to their pets, and not funny in a strange sort of way, but funny in the sense that we invest so much of our own nurturing feelings into the small, furry animals we bond to as surrogates for children, family, lovers, traveling companions, you name it. Anybody who says a pet is only an animal and doesn't deserve the same emotional consideration as a human being just doesn't get the point, and probably has no business owning one in the first place.
I've known Dawn since 1991, and so I've known Perk for the same length of time. I'll always remember him fondly for two particular eccentricities: for one, in his younger days he delighted in being suspended over his food dish by his tail, with his head buried just deeply enough into his food dish to reach the kibble; the second was for his love of cantalope. One of the funniest, wish-I'd-had-a-video-camera-I-would-have-made-a-fortune moments I've ever experienced was the time I walked into the kitchen of the house Dawn and I shared in Greenwood, to find Perkins with his head shoved all the way to the shoulders into a ripe cantalope, pushing it blindly across the linoleum in a determined effort to eat his way through to daylight and freedom.
He had a good life, and he left it in about as peaceful a way as any being conscious of the limitations of mortal existence could ever desire. And I truly believe he knew it was his time, and he simply let go, because well, in the end what else can you really do?
So long, Perkins. Thanks for being such a pal.
"When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."
- ts eliot, "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats" (1939)
on 7:05 PM