This is Cowboy. As the title of this post might suggest, he’s the best cat in the world.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Cats are evil, right? They hide under the bed when visitors come. They hiss and scratch if you get too close. They sit on your keyboard or book and refuse to move. They knock things off your dresser for no reason. They camp outside your bedroom window and sing at three in the morning or decide to make your front porch their litter box. They leave little paw prints on your car. They suffocate babies. Etc, etc, etc.
Most of the people I’ve met have had horrible experiences with cats. I can relate; I had some pretty crazy cats for pets when I was growing up. But Cowboy is unlike any other cat I’ve ever met. In fact, he isn’t really a cat; more like an old dog trapped in a cat’s body.
He does three things; sleep, eat, and poop. If his litter box is too full, he’ll sit outside the laundry room door (that’s where the littler box is kept) and meow until we change the litter. If his bowl is empty, he’ll do the same. If he wants milk, he’ll follow us into the kitchen and sit by the fridge to meow until we comply. Otherwise, he’ll wait until we sit down somewhere and cozy up next to us (or between us) to take a nap. He’ll fall asleep touching us somehow (with his chin on a shoulder, or his paw on a wrist, or a leg thrown over one of our legs). Like he’s claiming us as his.
When visitors come, he jumps down from the couch and wanders over to sniff their feet. If anyone sits on the couch, he climbs into their lap. He will sit there and let you pet him for as long as you want. He’ll purr and drool and look up at you like you’re his best friend. Even if it’s the first time you’ve met.
If there are any discarded shoes or clothes on the floor, he’ll sit or lay on them. If it belongs to my husband, Cowboy will rub his face all over it. He’ll ask to taste whatever crunchy, salty treat you’re snacking on by pawing at your hand and purring. (His favorites are Cheese Puffs, Wheat Thins, Doritos, and tortillas.)
He used to sleep in my husband’s bed before we got married. He still tries to sneak into our bed when I’m not looking. He’ll look up at me innocently when I catch him lying on my side of the bed. It’s hard to be mad at him, even if he does leave bright orange hair on the sheets.
He loves to sleep in the sun. He’d lay outside in the grass all day if we’d let him. Only problem is, he loves to eat the grass too. Then he’ll come inside and promptly throw up on the carpet. So he lays down by the sliding glass door and looks out into the sunlit backyard instead, waiting for his opportunity to sneak out. He’s big but he can move fast when he wants to. He’ll eat and throw up flowers too. When my husband gets me roses for my birthday or our anniversary, we have to put them somewhere up high where he can’t reach them. It’s kind of funny.
Cowboy’s one flaw? He doesn’t have the patience for small children. He has bitten each of our nephews at least once. He didn’t like our son when we first brought Bennett home from the hospital. He avoided the baby whenever he could and turned his back on Bennett if they were sharing close quarters. But, as you will see in the pictures below, Cowboy has grown accustomed to Bennett. Might even like the boy now.
He’s technically my husband’s cat, has been for fifteen years. But when we started dating, Cowboy and I had an almost instant connection. Even though my husband started snuggling with me more than his cat, Cowboy still loved me. Even though I kicked him out of our marriage bed, Cowboy was big enough to forgive me. Even when I put him on a diet, Cowboy refused to disown me. We’re so close, in fact, that we made a pact: he was going to live forever. Our kids were going to grow up loving him as much as I did. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Cowboy took our pact very seriously. He lost weight, he held onto his zen-like attitude despite how many times our dog tried to annoy him, he kept sleeping a ton, and exercised by jumping up and down from the bathroom counter to eat his meals.
Then, about three weeks ago, we discovered Cowboy had a limp. We thought maybe he’d hurt himself jumping down from the bathroom counter so we put his food on the floor and made sure the dog didn’t go anywhere near it. But he didn’t get better. We took him to the vet, who summarized it was a sprain of some kind. He gave Cowboy a steroid shot to help with the swelling (that was fun…not), and gave us additional medication to force-feed him. Even after we ran out of that medication, Cowboy’s limp persisted. In fact, it got worse. A growth appeared seemingly overnight on his bad leg, the one he’d been babying this whole time. His appetite decreased. Drastically. It became harder and harder for him to climb into his litter box. Then he gave up trying to use the litter box altogether. Yesterday, when he hadn’t moved from his spot even to relieve himself, my husband and I looked at each other. And decided it was time to say goodbye.
I’m tearing up as I write this. I can’t believe it. I never thought I’d become so attached to a pet. He’s just a cat, right? Wrong. He’s been there since my husband and I started dating. He has been sitting next to us on the couch since we came back from our honeymoon. When we wake up in the morning, he greets us. He sits on the carpet and keeps me company while I’m getting ready for the day. When we come home from work, he’s there. When we go to sleep, he tries so hard to join us. When we go out of town, he stress-eats until we come back and then cries with joy when we walk through the door. He’s our furry roommate. He loves us and we love him. He tried so hard to live forever, just like I asked. But his body has given up on him. We can’t let him keep going like this.
The appointment has been set for this evening. Isn’t that horrible? I had to call the vet to ask if we could schedule a time to put our beloved Cowboy to sleep. Permanently. My husband says it hasn’t hit him yet, but when it does it’ll hit him hard. My heart is heavy. I’ve been mourning all week. I don’t want this to be the last time we see Cowboy. For the first time ever, I find myself hoping animals go to heaven. Whether it’s true or not, I want to believe he’ll end up there. I want to believe he’ll find the mansion that’s been made for us, jump up on the couch, settle into his favorite spot right up against the armrest, and wait for us. It might sound silly, but that’s how much I love this stinkin’ cat.
Maybe someday we’ll get another cat, but I’m pretty sure Cowboy has ruined cats for us forever. After all, what feline could compare to the best cat in the world?
Goodbye, old friend. Don’t tell the dog, but I love you more than any other pet I’ve had. Keep that heavenly couch warm for us. We’ll see you again soon.