The Felines     

Snow (1990-2007)

Snow was a little bundle of white fur the first time I saw him, on the sun porch of my mother's Virginia farm. He wasn't much more than that the last time I saw him, in the veterinarian's arms, late this afternoon.

But oh... those seventeen years in between. Seventeen years of the loudest meow I have ever heard. Seventeen years of sleeping in my chair, on my bed. Seventeen years of companionship and love.

Snow was one of five kittens born to my mother's cat in April of 1990. Four were solid white and had the congenital deafness to match. Two of those white deaf kittens came home to live with me. He was the larger of the two and, for the longest time, I thought he was the more aggressive, the one I blamed when I heard him scrapping with his sister Mist. (It turned out that I was wrong: the more I watched them, the more I realized that Mist was always the one to start things; Snow was, well... a pussycat.)

He was the one who faced the furred intruder who made it into my house one fall night a few years ago. I came home and found him literally frizzed up to twice his size. I don't blame him; I felt like doing the same thing when I found the raccoon who'd managed to get in through a second story window. He was the one who would chase the dot from the laser pen, who would welcome any guest who had the good sense to pet him, and pet him, and pet him. He was the one who managed to get out of the house once when the back door lock was being changed. As a deaf cat, he'd never been allowed out. I can't begin to describe my relief when I found him out there ... and he came to me so that I could grab him and get him safely back inside.

He had the loudest voice of any cat I'd ever seen. (My kitty sitter said he was talkative. I always said he was noisy.) One night, he and his sister were running amok on my bed at about 2 a.m.; I threw them both out of the room and then did the unthinkable -- I closed the door, leaving them in the hall. Snow simply laid down across the threshold, threw back his head and yowled. I leapt out of bed and let them back in. The alternative was probably that my neighbors would have called the SPCA.

Sweet-tempered, people-oriented, he was never more than a few feet away from me whenever I was home for his entire life. For the longest time, he wasn't a lap cat, but in the last few years he would stretch out and sleep on my lap in my recliner.

He made it almost a year longer than his sister did. And he gave me great comfort and joy in that extra time. But the time came today when it was my turn to give him comfort, time to end the pain, time to ease his way. So Snow crossed the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon, where, I hope, Mist (and Junior and Missy and every cat who has ever owned me) will be waiting to welcome him.

-- April 20, 2007
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