Thursday, October 2, 2014

Farewell, Might Hunter Egil

It's hard to say good-bye to a companion of nineteen years.

Egil was my first cat, my first pet as an adult. Hadn't much thought about pets, but the Queen of Science and I were living with another couple who had cats, and I discovered that I liked them. When one, Lucifer, died, we went to the pound to pick up a replacement. And came home with Egil.

Everyone knows their cat is special. Egil wasn't the smartest cat I had ever met, but he was affectionate without being clingy. I've met dick cats, overly-affectionate cats, demanding cats, and all other sorts. Egil was just my sort, and I suspect that was because we influenced each other of such a long period. We got him nineteen years ago, at around six months old, so he grew up with us.

Mighty Hunter Egil, napping in a basket

At a funeral, you tell the good stories.

We adopted Egil in California. When we had just gotten him, we put his litter pan in the bathroom off our bedroom, and kept him with us at night. About five minutess after the lights went out, we would start with these plaintive meows, as if he were a lost child. So we would scratch at the blankets and encoutrage him to come to the bed, and that usually took five minutes. But he'd settle down, usually on top of me, purr, drool, and fall asleep. To me he has always been that lost voice in the dark, looking for comfort.

Mighty Hunter, asleep in a basket

Egil was the inventor of nut-hockey. One Christmas, we set out a big bowl of uncracked nuts. Pretty soon we got tired of cracking them, so they sat around. Until Egil discovered them. He would scoop a nut out, and then smack it around the wooden floor, chasing it across the room until it inevitably fell down the heat register. He'd try to fish it out, and after a little while, give up, then go back for another. I have no idea how many nuts we lost down that register.

We drove Egil from San Francisco to Vermont. He hated it. He spend at least four hours every day crying, mostly about being in a cage for so long. At the beginning the trip, we bought him this kitty bed made of foam so he could snuggle down in it. He shredded it into a heap of cotton balls over the course of five days.

Mighty Hunter, asleep in a basket

He forgave me. Because he loved me. He really did. When I took him to the vet for the first time in Vermont, he was confused and angry, the way cats are at the vet. To calm him down on the exam table, I gave him a little skritch behind the ears. Which that got a purr from him, and that was what I wanted. But he was still purring when the vet started the checkup. "He's purring so loudly I can't hear his heart." I shrugged. Not much I could do. So he turned on the sink tap, picked Egil up, and brought him near the running water. Egil stopped purring, untl he was set down on the exam table next to me again. And he started purring, without me even tuching him. The vet had to wave him at the water a second time to get him to stop.

On a day when men came to the apartment to repair the windows, we didn't want Egil to make a break for it. Once, he'd jumped out of a second story window into asphault. So we closed him in the laundry room. When the men were gone, we couldn't find him. And it's not like the laundry room was huge. After fifteen minutes, we heard a paintive meow. He was in the washing machine. Somewhere, I have a picture of him, big eyes staring out of the waching machine. And it's really difficult to get a cat out of a one of those. My arms don't bend the proper way.

Mighty Hunter, asleep in a basket

Until he was seventeen, Ael loved mice. LOVED them. Ate them with gusto, and never, as far as I saw, played with them. He threw up virtually every sort of food we gave him, especially as his renal failure began to kick in. But every mouse he ever ate stayed eaten.

Mighty Hunter, asleep in a basket

The house is quiet. I've dug a small grave in the back yard. It's been a difficult year. Now there won't be a little guy waiting for me when I get home, looking for food or lap time. I'm going to miss him. There are other cats, but none of them is Egil.

Farewell, Might Hunter Egil. I hope it's nothing but salmon and mice, warm sunbeams, and all the lap time you ever wanted.


Tamara said...

Damn. My condolences.

John Goodrich said...

Thank you. Much appreciated.