Darned orange and white cat stirring up memories! One of the neighborhood ramblers is out this morning. I just saw him, bold as brass, walking right down the middle of our street. Since he’s been through, I’ve had Raymond on my mind. I’ve always meant to write about Ray. He was my best friend. I don’t think about him because I cry. I don’t talk about him because I cry. I’m crying now as I write this.
Our lives with cats began in 1996. Hubby and I were on a date night out, and we had time to kill before a movie started. We went into a PetSmart to look around. They had cats there in cages waiting to be adopted. We went back the next day, and we ended up with 22 pound Sammy – a 5 year old gray tiger who had lost his home when his family divorced. He was a character and a complete love. Since we did so well with Sam, a year later I was thinking about a second cat.
I went back to the same veterinary adoption place where we had gotten Sam. It began with a small black and white picture on their website. We were amused by his name – Raymond. I went out to the vet to look at him. He had been found as a stray at an apartment complex. He was between 3 and 4 years old. The people who were moving in where he was found already had cats and didn’t want another one. They brought him to the vet. All these years later I still can’t figure out how someone could have left him behind.
He was not overly friendly when I first held him. He didn’t want to be held. I was used to Sam who would let us carry him around like a baby with all four feet up in the air. I didn’t know what to make of Ray. I didn’t know if he’d be a good fit for us or not. I looked at all the other cats there for adoption, trying to decide who I wanted. Then I felt guilty! I had come out to look at cute, little Raymond and here I was considering others instead. I made an on the spot decision to take him anyway. The vet was overjoyed. Raymond had been there a long time – almost a year. He was a small guy – around 10 pounds when we got him. He never weighed more than 12 or 13 pounds all his life.
When I picked Ray up to take him home, the vet’s staff came out to cheer, excited that he was finally going to his forever home. Sammy had been in our house for a year, and he was clearly top cat. He was twice Ray’s size. When we brought Raymond home, Sam walked up to him, growled and hissed loudly – something we’d never seen Sam do. Ray (like a scared rabbit) froze. He squeezed his eyes shut and waited it out. After that one clear warning from Sam, they were buddies for life. They would spend hours cuddled up together and grooming each other. Ray had a goofy game he would play, too. He had the funniest voice. He would squeal a high pitched squeal and jump on Sam in a mock playing game. We’d hear that noise at all hours and from the opposite end of the house. Sam would put up with it, usually tussling back with him. When Sam got tired of it, he’d bat him back to make him stop or he’d grumble, growl and walk away.
Ray was a talking cat. Any time you’d say something to him, he’d answer. We had entire conversations. Ray had a sensitive digestive system. He was prone to bouts of flatulence and he often made messes in the litter box. I took him back to the vet after having him for a few weeks, and they said he’d always have tummy troubles. They recommended a food that was easier on his stomach, and they even offered to take him back! I was appalled at that. I’d only had him a short time, but I already loved him. I couldn’t imagine giving him back. He was mine. When taking him to the vet, he never liked being confined to a cat carrier. He’d ride loose in the car, and he’d stand on my lap, looking out the windows, meowing at people who went by.
Ray became firmly entrenched in my heart. We were inseparable. He followed me everywhere. I’d get up to use the bathroom, and he’d follow me. He used to sit on the bathroom sink to wait for me, no matter what I was doing. When I put my makeup on, he’d turn and watch me in the mirror as if he had to supervise the job. I’d get up to do the laundry, and he’d come downstairs with me to help. He’d greet me at the door every night. He sat on me a lot, and not just my lap. He’d climb up and sit on my side. At night, he would sleep on my right shoulder/upper arm. If he got up during the night for any reason, he’d come back and paw at my shoulder until he woke me up enough for me to take my arm out from under the covers. Then he’d snuggle up against my body, wrap his paws around my upper arm and use my upper arm as a pillow and go to sleep. In the morning, I’d usually find him sleeping at the foot of the bed. He was my soul mate. I loved him more than I love most people.
I had him for 10 years. I never thought he’d be the first pet I’d lose. Our dog and Sammy were both older by a few years. Ray got cancer. He was 13. I do think that God took him first for a reason. He was needed in Heaven. He was already my little angel. Also, I think God knew that If I could survive losing him, I could survive anything. Since we got all of our pets at around the same time and they were all roughly the same age, we would have to repeat this process again and again. We lost Ray in 2007, Sam in 2008, Zola (our dog) in 2009, our other cat Molly in 2010, and a new cat (Jasper) who had a bad heart and died unexpectedly also in 2010. I miss them all, and I will see them all again at the rainbow bridge someday. I firmly believe that, and I know Ray will be the first one to greet me.