THE LAST BRUSHING, a memorial to

 Pugly: 9/10/86 - 3/18/99

BY SUE WIDEMARK

We lost our cat on Thursday, March 18, 1999. She must have been hit by a car - my hubby found her cold and stiff on the lawn around midnight when he looked for her to feed her. She had been out and had not come home for dinner. She did this sometimes, visiting some of her friends on the block but by midnight, we were worried and went to look for her and that's when my husband found her.

Pugly was an all black cat with no markings. She had adopted us, 13 years previous, after a troubled birth (came to us with cigarette burns on her nose and a carelessly chopped off tail) and after crying under the house for three days, at which time she ventured out because hunger got to her. We fed her and the rest was history.

Pugly, like all cats, was a real character. After she got over her initial fear caused by the sickos who had abused her, she realized she had a family where she could establish, in catlike manner, her total dictatorship. And this she did.

She carried herself in stately magnificence (I had thought more often than not of changing her name to "Queenie" because she thought she WAS) and when we came home from work, she would give us - what we called - the non greeting. This was walking slowly out in front of the car, sitting there, making us stop the car, moving when she got around to it, and walking slowly over, her back to us, to her food dish. As if to say, "Well, you are home but this is such a non event in my life!"

She loved to be petted and never could get too many pets.  She had little tolerance for other cats visiting her outside food bowl but she did have her friends. The cat next door was one of her friends (his name is Fluffy) and she sometimes spent the night with him but it was a purely platonic relationship.  Whoever abused her as a tiny kitten also must have caused her to be sterile. She never came into heat.

Losing an animal is not like losing a person but it's still a sad incident because they each have individual personalities and bring a lot of happiness to their humans. This cat was no exception. She had a sweet personality with a touch of spice. I've seen her stand up and terrorize a dog twice as large as she was but she very much enjoyed her pets and loves. She had all sorts of different "meows" and I knew what each one meant and jumped to her beck and call, of course. That comes with being owned by a cat.  You know.

One thing she loved the most was when I brushed her. She stretched out the brushing time longer and longer, demanding certain parts be brushed many times. She would purr like a jet engine and she would totally relax. The last time I brushed her was two weeks before her death. It took two hours because for the first time, she allowed me to brush her underside. Allowed? She LOVED the underside brushing even more than the 'by the ears' brushing - her previous favorite spot.

To explain, when a cat exposes her underside to you, it's like telling you that they totally trust you, and are making themselves totally vulnerable to you.  For a cat which had been so traumatized in her early life, this was a special compliment to us although I never take it lightly when a cat gives me this sign of trust.

Pugly would have loved it if I brushed her daily but at a two hour time span, I thought it more reasonable to do it once a week.

However, in the last week, I had been busy building my websites up. I was on a honeymoon with Javascript and Perl and even sophisticated HTML. I ignored her pleas to brush her.

On her last day of life, Gerry fed her in the morning and gave her a few pets (which she ignored in her snotty catlike manner) and he reminded me that I should brush her that morning. I knew he was right - it had been a week.

But I was just getting to a breakthrough on the second website - getting things to work just right. I put off the brushing ... I'd planned to do it in a day or so.

And of course, I never got the chance - she was dead by that night.

I can't tell you the regret I feel - how I wish I could go back in time and spend the time brushing her in what would have been her last brushing.

I think God is using the death of this little creature which He called back to Him suddenly, to teach me a lesson. So often, we put off being with our parents, our kids, our grandchildren, our siblings, our friends because we have 'something more important' to do. And occasionally, we get caught like the foolish bridesmaids in the Bible with 'no oil in our lamps' and a door slammed in our faces.

Death comes suddenly sometimes with little warning. And if we have put off being with the person (or even with a small animal friend), we have a bitter taste in our mouths, as this is one oversight we cannot make good, no matter how hard we try. Death is such a final parting. What we had to do which was 'more important' than spending the time with a loved one, doesn't seem real important now.

It has been several years since Pugly's death. I have loved other cats but still miss Pugly. You cannot replace one animal with another but can only invite a new animal friend to share your life to help dispell the lonliness you FEEL for your animal friends who have passed over.

I will always regret that I didn't take the time out of my empire building on the web, to spend some time with one of God's tiny creatures and make her happy on - what was to be - her last day of life.

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