We’ve had a lot of animals over the years, only one that died outside of a vet’s office–Lucky, a creamsicle-orange delight that wandered into a pair of aggressive dogs down the street when I was a kid. That was as unpleasant as you can expect.
My mom is incapable of watching our animals be put to sleep, which I can appreciate. Now, better, because I stayed with my cat today as the vet administered first the anesthesia, and then the more serious dosage that sent Star on her way.
I named her Star after a 311 song. ‘Take a chance on something, Star, you’ve got all the livelong day.’ My high school/college boyfriend nicknamed her Starbie. Starbie was the first cat I got on my own.
I was living in an apartment in Columbus, Ohio, approaching my first academic failure at Ohio State, when I enrolled in a Spring horseback-riding elective. My first day, on a tour of the stables, the TA gave a cursory wave to a particular rafter beam, upon which was resting a solemn-eyed tabby.
‘The obligatory stable cat,’ I announced knowingly, having never been to a stable, much less known a stable cat.
‘She’s nuts,’ said the TA, directing me toward the office enclave opposite the main ring. ‘She keeps throwing her babies off.’
I, shocked, stopped and stared. ‘She throws her babies? Where?’
‘Down to the ground. We put ’em up, she just throws ’em off.’
And, like a beacon of mischief, out trotted little Star, nothing more than a palm’s width and spotted like a cow. I picked her up.
‘Well,’ I said. ‘I’m going to take her, then.’
The TA clucked and shook her head. ‘Nah, just put her back. I don’t think we’re allowed to give those away.’
So I shrugged, set her down, followed the TA back to the office, signed the paperwork and went to my car. I opened the door, slammed it, then ran back to where I’d left the kitten, snatched her and stole away. I never went back.
So Star was my college cat. She partied, chewed on my ankles and slept on my face. She lived out the rest of her life with my mom, where life was less volatile and there was a lot of company. She was my Star. And it sucked, watching her go. I asked her to say hello to Gracie, my childhood cat, and to save some space for Frodo, for when he gets to wherever they go.
I love you, Star. I’ll never forget you.