Adjusting to life without Tony has been hard for Milk. She followed me from room to room, making those soft calls mother cats make to their kittens. She has commandeered the one cat bed Tony never slept in, the brown one in a corner formed by the wall and the carpeted tunnel at the base of the tall cat perch, and makes Skye curl up and sleep with her there. She and I took turns sleeping with Tony at night and she often napped with him in the day. They spent hours grooming each other. I am no substitute for Tony in that respect. Even if I were willing to spend a half hour licking her my tongue is too flat for good grooming and I produce too much saliva. I would get her all wet which would make her even more unhappy. Skye seems to know Milk needs her, she comes when called and returns Milks grooming and joins her in the brown bed without argument.
She seems to know I miss Tony too. Thursday night, for the first time ever, I opened my eyes to see her little face inches from mine, her body curled next to my side, where Tony would have been. She has started to meow for me to come to her for petting. Considering she was always the wild child with the reserved personality, the one would retained her feral skittishness since she was rescued eight years ago, it’s close to a miracle.
I miss Tony most in the morning and at dinner time. Cats like routine and we had ours. Tony picked up a lot of habits from Shinki the Bengal and one was getting water in a personal dish each morning. He used the cat fountain but liked to be waited on and would follow me into the kitchen when I went for my coffee and talk at me until I gave him a little water in his dish. He never meowed. He had a complex vocabulary I can’t imitate of small sounds, reeoow, nurrreeeoww, ruuup, prupp, so hard to describe. Not like Mosby’s Siamese demands “Neeyaow!”, just soft conversation. At dinner I miss him because I always had an odd half can left over that had to be capped and put in the fridge. Now the cans divide evenly, that last step a reminded someone is missing.
The robin that made the nest over my porch light disappeared a few days later. It was not the mailman, I stopped my mail and he sailed by the house, but one morning I heard a loud squawking and got to the living room window in time to see a big crow fly away from the house toward the big tree. It was then chased away by the fearless little grackle that had claimed the hollow where an old limb had been cut off. I still see a pair of robins and one was pulling dead grass from the side yard, so I think they moved across the street. It’s just another reminder of the impermanence of things in this world and helped me realize how lucky I was to have so many years with Tony.
So I cherish even more the cats that are still with me and give Milk extra attention and let Skye know how good she is. Life without Tony will be quieter, he had so much personality and presence. I will miss his way of laying on my chest with his front legs around my neck and his cheek against my collarbone and his purr that sounded like a Norton motorcycle (I swear to it, I like Nortons). Unlucky to loose him so soon yes, but I am lucky to have known him so long.