WereBear posted they had to say goodbye to Reverend Jim just before the holiday and I kept meaning to ask her if she’d like to do a guest post on all he meant to them. Luckily, she read my mind and asked me to share this. He was a beautiful boy, Werebear.
Our cat Reverend Jim was thirteen when we shared that last vet appointment, a few weeks ago. It was sad, but it was also my privilege. He was an extraordinary cat.
Reverend Jim’s rescue involved me convincing the police department that it was time to take him out of that “material witness” category. He’d had three weeks of vet care, which saved his life, but he still wasn’t thriving. At only 12 weeks old, he needed a home, but he was so scrawny no one would see him as the kitten he was.
Mr WereBear had asked me to, “Get someone mellow. You know, like Reverend Jim on Taxi.” He probably didn’t expect me to bring home “the most pathetic kitten in the place,” as a friend once said of my choices. But soon, he realized we couldn’t call him anything else. His Joy Face at cuddles and a full bowl was so evident, and so much like Christopher Lloyd’s, that this name turned out to be inevitable.
It took some time for him to catch up on his brain development being stunted by neglect, but he made it all the way back. I will always think of him during the holiday season, when his abundant wise-ass tendencies got highlighted. We would bring out the little, kitten-proofed, tree we got that year. It had all the lights and ornaments wired on, so when it fell on the carpet, we could just put it back on the table again.
But when questioned about these incidents, RJ would protest his innocence with his face. He would demonstrate that he wasn’t playing with the tree. He was playing with the wire from the tree. See?
He was an excellent example of cats being lawyers.
RJ’s legacy lives on through his mentoring of five kittens through the years. He was a world class Kitten Wrangler. He was taught by James Bond, who was trained by Beelzebub, who was mentored by Myron. That’s decades of unbroken tradition which stretches into the past, and the future.
When we lose them, always too soon, it hurts to think about the future. Without them.
Our good friend Amir Khalid recently lost his sweet cat, Bianca. In that thread, germy shared this:
WereBear wrote something once that brought tears to my eyes. She wrote about us giving our pets a knowledge of love.
So Bianca knew love, and that’s something.
Thank you. I believe love is what we are here for. Those of us who love a pet see that love returned, every day. Having someone who shares our lives acts as a multiplying force on our emotion. It blooms and fades and flowers again. As emotions should.
Our pets tell us that it doesn’t matter who that someone might be. They blast through walls of bigotry with their sheer joy in our presence. They regard us as a fellow being, who is their friend.
This makes right-wing quibbles about skin color, hair texture, physical abilities, language differences, and who we love and in what ways… meaningless.
Our heart knows that.
My readers have told me they find reassurance in, After a loss, how long before we get a new cat? Because they feel guilty that their period of mourning is not long enough. That wanting another pet, “too soon,” diminishes both their love, and their loss.
In this post, I explain that pets are different. We can’t use the lenses of “human loss” with them. Because the time frames do not match. The whole of their life fits into fractions of ours.
I believe pets fit into the “dear friends” category. That’s not like partner or child or parent, which are more restricted, and not as easily found again.
Pet loss is similar to friend loss. We usually have a number of friends, and we are always willing to entertain another. But this is also how pet loss hurts us so deeply. It’s a special category we can’t get from our fellow humans.
Pets are woven into our lives. Yet, with pet loss, our life goes on in ways indistinguishable from the outside. For most of us, our society does not acknowledge this special niche our animal friends give us. It’s only been quite recently that cultural acknowledgment of this special grief exists at all.
One of the reasons I “lost my religion” as a teen in the Deep South was how I was told “animals have no souls.”
I knew that wasn’t true.
I hope Amir finds love again. I know my home will, too. Right now, we are waiting for the universe to send us another “cat who needs us most.”
When we are pet rescuers, especially, the universe has that tendency.
Didn’t see it coming. My destiny turned out to be Internet Cat Guru.
Explore the blog at the Way of Cats.
Reverend Jim was memorialized in my first book, The Way of Cats. He’s on the cover and I get to tell his story. Check out my author page on Amazon. +Follow me to get notified of my book-in-progress, the multiple cat management system I call Cat Civilization.
Is it a gift-giving season for our cats? Explore custom blends in Mr WereBear’s creations, Herbal Cat Toys. The herb IS the toy!
TaMara here again. Feel comfortable using this thread to tell us about the critters you’ve loved and lost. We have all been there.