Friday, July 19, 2013

In Mourning

Since Lucius passed away little more than a month ago, I have refrained from blogging. This was not a deliberate choice. Every time I sat down to write, I thought about how Lucius was always on my mind whenever I blogged, and about how much my home environment has changed immeasurably. But I miss communicating with fellow Cat Ladies, and I could have sworn I heard Lucius encouraging me just last night—when insomnia kicked in—to recharge my batteries. Here, in brief, is what I have learned during the past five weeks.

I was aware that cats experience grieving, that they mourn the loss of their human parents and/or their feline companions. I can add firsthand experience to my book-learned knowledge, having observed Lydia, Leo, Linus, L.B., and Alvar attempt to get their bearings without an alpha cat in the house. Each of our five cats (the four cats in the garage apartment never had the distinct pleasure of meeting Lucius) has reacted differently to Lucius’s death, and I have been surprised, and saddened, most by Alvar’s displays of grief.

Lydia appears to be lost without her attentive soul mate. She and Lucius were virtually joined at the hip for thirteen years, and the male cats in the house do not dare infringe officially on Lucius’s territory. Lydia is not inconsolable, but she keeps her distance from the other cats and is sleeping even more than her usual 18 hours per day. I praise and coddle her—she is beautiful, after all—,and she resists my sincere flattery.

Leo, ever the gentle cat, is mourning silently. He likes to sleep in all of the spots where Lucius enjoyed resting, particularly on what became his last days. Linus, who is still the size of a kitten, is asserting himself after a respectable period of mourning. He loved Lucius, even worshipped him at times. Lucius had that Svengali-like effect on younger cats. If I were a betting Cat Lady, I would wager that Linus will become the new alpha cat (trapped in his runt-of-the-litter body).

L.B. was the prince of all princes to Lucius in his final hours on June 12. L.B. apparently understood what was happening to Lucius, and L.B. could not bear to say goodbye. He seems to have recovered from his sadness, though I suspect his renewed zest for overeating is motivated by anxiety and a fear of the unknown.

Alvar was the object of Lucius’s scorn and ridicule ever since we rescued him from the street, nine years ago. Alvar and Lucius—once bitter enemies—reconciled several years ago; before he died, Lucius was especially solicitous toward Alvar, as if he wanted to apologize for his misbehavior and taunting. I had always assumed that Alvar’s happiest day would come when he realized that Lucius was no longer alive. The opposite is true.

Alvar stared at the peeling paint on an all-white wall in the upstairs bathroom. For a change of scenery, he sat inside of a spare litter box that I store in a cabinet underneath the bathroom sink. For three weeks, Alvar maintained this routine, and he rarely ate. Who would have guessed that Alvar would miss his feuding partner? Alvar finally emerged from hiding on July 4, acknowledging his newfound independence.

All I can say, as of this writing, is that I have seen the future of losing all of my cats, and the future is very sad, indeed. The moral of today’s story is hardly original, so forgive me for stating the obvious: We Cat Ladies must live every day to the fullest with our beloved furry friends.

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