My cat Mif is an indispensable companion to me. I talk to her all the time although she can no longer hear me, and so she doesn't answer. Her hearing deteriorated progressively in the course of last year or so. It is still good to have her to talk to, or else I will have to talk to the wall or, worse, talk back to the talking head on the TV screen. Mif and I share our destinies. She, too, lost her companion Pif, years ago, as I lost mine, more recently. We are both alone. In these weeks, recovering from the back injury I suffered in London from a fall, which led to the diagnosis of osteoporosis, I stay home on leave and spend a good deal of time lying down. My continuous presence at home no doubt pleases her. She gets up on the couch and lies down next to me as soon as she finds me in that reclining position.

Mif is fifteen years old, almost as old as I am if her age is translated into human terms. She eats well, however, and is very active. She lost weight from a thyroid disorder, a cause for her appetite, for which a steroid was prescribed late last year. Since then she has been showing rejuvenation. She chases twisties, those paper-covered wire pieces for closing plastic bags. A lot of them end up under the refrigerator. But she likes best playing with the string, jumping up to catch it as I swing it over and around her. She goes at it a long time as I cook my dinner and dedicate my left hand to entertaining her. When I sit at the kitchen table for breakfast, lunch, or snack, she always comes up on the stool next to me, raises her right paw for a "shake hand," and then demands to be cuddled. She is well mannered because I never allowed her to be fed from the table. At dinner table she positions herself at my feet.

Then, at bedtime, if I tap her and signal her to come (since she cannot hear), she follows me up the stairs. While I get ready for bed, she waits at the landing, and when I am ready to get in the bed she comes and jumps on it ahead of me. Then it's time to be cuddled again; when she is satisfied she goes to lie down next to my feet. In the morning, she meows to wake me up, and she expects me to sit on the bedside and hold her on my lap and cuddle and pet. I don't remember when this became a routine; but she knows it is.

She likes to be cuddled; but I like cuddling her, too. She is so soft and, well, cuddly.

T. Kaori Kitao, 02.23.99


My cat Mif died early in December, 1999. She was sixteen years old, and in the course of a year or so she was losing weight and getting weaker. She was actually conspicuously emaciated though to my loving eye she didn't look too bad. A month or two earlier, she starting having a difficulty swallowing her food, as though it was painful to swallow. I thought I should perhaps take her to be put to sleep and spare her any further suffering. Then, the morning of 6 December, she had a spasma, and I hurried to the vet. I knew then she will have to go; it would be selfish on my part to hang on to her any longer. The thought was distressing. I was distraught; and I skidded on the way to the vet and hit the car that suddenly stopped in front of me. Fortunately, there was no damage to that car but, curiously, a serious damage to my Volvo. The vet thought she had a stroke, and offered me the option of hospitalization (though she is too old to hope for a significant recovery), treatment to ease her pain and prolong her life, or euthanasia. I decided to let her go then and there. I stayed with her, and as I stroked her, she closed her eyes slowly and faded away.

T. Kaori Kitao, 12.07.99

My Cat Mif


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