My cat Chesterton died yesterday in a strange way- he jumped out of my dad’s arms and fell on his back, crushing his spine on the front porch of the house where I grew up. He was dead within minutes. My dad called me in tears yesterday to tell me the news as I was decorating our crew house for a birthday party. I didn’t cry, like I thought I would at the news of my pet dying. I think because I knew deep down he would not live to be an old cat. He was more of a burn out than a fade away kind of guy. And the manner in which he died sort of reflected that. I was more worried about my dad, as he is a very sensitive soul. I tried to explain that I’d already cuddled Chet and said my goodbyes before leaving for this sailing job. I knew I was going to be wandering awhile and that he would inevitably run out of the house and push the limits a little too far one day. Usually he would only go as far as the driveway when you caught him but the look in his eye was enough to make you want to set him free.He was not happy in the house- he always wanted to know what was outside the known. As it turns out, yesterday, Curiosity finally caught up with my cat.
Chesterton was such a huge part of my life. He spent his first year inside my crappy apartment that allowed me to stir pots on the stove from the shower, should I ever have had a desire to do so. I accidentally smashed his head in the front door once because he tried to run out. I called the animal help hotline I found and the woman scornfully judged my new parenting skills. (His head was fine). I may or may not have smothered him with love and try to make him cuddle with me. I eventually eased up, realizing that I couldn’t force him. He had to figure it out on his own. He met my boyfriend Rob. Chesterton loved Rob more than anyone else I dated. I still am not sure why- maybe because Rob worked from home and was always around to play with. Or maybe because they had a shared love of getting into situations that drove me bananas.
When I worked long hours to support my comedy habit, Chesterton expressed his disgust by pooping in the bathtub every time I came home late. He also loved to play in the toilet or jump in the shower with me. He loved to eat butter and scratch records. And somehow he developed a highbrow taste for drinking water only if it came out of someone’s water glass. Bonus if he knocked it over. He let me dress him in bow ties for a Christmas picture and was the only witness the time someone kicked my door in and robbed me.
When I started sailing, I sent him to live with my parents and he was thrilled. There was so much exploring to do. He had multiple floors and another cat to terrorize. I think those were probably his happiest days. They once called me to say he had climbed up the attic ladder and was stuck above the garage.
I think the reason I chose Chesterton at PAWS was because he was such an odd cat. He didn’t play and chase things around the room like the rest of the 10 week old kittens. Instead, he liked to walk to the very edge of the wall and just examine it. It seemed like he was wondering what lay beyond it. I think the reason Chesterton allowed me to choose him was because he knew I would let him be his weird self. He knew I would understand that one day, he would have to see what was beyond that front door even if it meant I wouldn’t get to see him again.