Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Adopting Teddy

It's "Where's Teddy?"
A few days after Bob passed away,
I went looking for his sweet cat, Teddy.
but didn't look carefully enough!

I'm on a quest to adopt Bob's big grey tabby cat, Teddy. Teddy is really the Cheshire cat, with wise green eyes and a big, gentle head. When he turns to look at you, you can just see a hint of his smile. He was under Bob’s covers with him when he died.

During the first seven days after Bob’s death, the first “Bardo,” when the mind becomes fully liberated from the body, Teddy was missing in action, though the food in his bowl slowly disappeared over the week. I did see him once, running from Bob’s garden gate to the cabin, his white boots scooting across the path. We think he’s still in mourning. Perhaps grief counseling is in order...

A few days ago Toby brought him over, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed into the cat carrier. He was not happy, and fled out our own cat door (hey, how did he know where it was?) as soon as he was out of the box.

At the moment a confused and sad Teddy is tucked under the wood burning stove at the foot of my bed. I carried him over this evening at sunset, and have three long scratches above my heart to prove it. Now he is in our bedroom, mewing and moaning, looking nothing like the sweet Buddha cat I’ve known so far, who was always drunk with the love of Bob’s caresses.

This is how much we love you, Bob. My bedroom smells of tuna fish and we just improvised a litter box for your bloody cat! But you loved him so very much, so we’re taking turns talking to him about how much we love him and about how he can’t stay over at your house all by himself.

It’s 4 am, and we’re awakened by the saddest meowing you’ve ever heard. I turn on the light and plop Teddy into the litter box (our two other critters are banned from the bedroom for the evening.) We try talking him down, but that only increases the mewing.

He’s always been completely free to come and go at Bob’s so we’re not surprised when he begins rattling the screen door, and banging the food dishes around. I start thinking about how all cat behavior, from tabby to saber tooth tiger, is the same. If Teddy were a tiger, maybe he’d slash us to ribbons for confining him.

Next, the unmistakable smell of cat poop fills the room. O God, did he use the litterbox? Or are our bare feet in for an unpleasant experience? Suddenly the mewing becomes this low, gurgling growl that comes from the depths of feline hell. Think Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. The sound reminds me of a fairy tale about temple cats battling goblins in rural Japan.

Then my saintly husband takes charge. On go the lights, he lifts Teddy up onto our bed and they have a serious talk. When I join in, Teddy is purring, loudly. This must be some kind of Leo magic. We pet him and soothe him and he looks at us, mystified, but calmer.

About an hour later though, the whole cycle begins again. So out Teddy goes, meows for a bit, then most likely wanders back to Bob’s. Hopefully he’ll think kindly of his wannabe adoptive parents, and someday soon will join our menagerie!

Will we end up with Teddy as part of our family? What do you think? More importantly, what do you suggest?


Lori Bedford said...

The depth of your patience is admirable, especially at 4am with wafting feline fecal odors and scary sounds coming from a Stephen King-ish kitty. Teddy is obviously grieving. My bet is Teddy will warm to his new environs once he has time to find his space without Bob.

SurToby said...

Saintly? I hardly think so, but thanks for the kind words. I just wanted the unearthly mewling, growling, and generally pitiful sounds of a trapped animal to go away. I think I might still be sleep-deprived (or is that depraved?). He's a good cat though, and he's obviously got a bit of Bob's independent streak in him.