"The eyes of a cat will wax and wane with the phases of the moon"
-William Butler (W.B.) Yeats
This past week I lost my constant companion of the past twelve years, W.B. Yeats. My life would not have been the same without him.
I wish I had more pictures of his early days, but those who know me, know that I am incapable of keeping a computer up and running for very long, so I seem to have lost all early digital photos. None the less, I want to take a moment to tell the entire story of how I suddenly was forced to be a cat person. Way back in 1999, I was alone and working at Kodak, trying to figure out why I could not put weight on my left leg, miserable because I could not run and essentially be me, when I got a very bizarre phone call from my sister. Phone calls between me and my sister are a rarity. All she said was that she had stolen a cat and that I should meet her on the Thruway in a few hours (I was in Rochester, she was in Lowell, MA). Seemed like a good idea to me. So four hours later I was a cat person. Yeats was malnourished, had a flee problem, had no claws, and was just in general need of love. That first year I would take him out into fields and teach him to come to me and respond to his name. At nights when I was thinking of how I wish things were different with my life, he would nuzzle up next to my head while I just looked at the stars. What a difference just a little love from a pet can make. Well, I could go on and on forever, but obviously we were stuck with each other from that point on.
Yeats traveled with me to New Jersey, Oregon, Wisconsin, and back to New York again. Yeats loved to look out the window, he would put his paws on the window while we drove and only meowed at tractor trailers. Frankly, I think this just illustrates his intelligence, who does like passing tractor trailers? In New York he really hit his stride. Perhaps I can be comforted by the fact that the last years of his life were the happiest. He learned how to use the dog door and would do nightly patrols of the neighborhood, typically ending up on my neighbors patio to join them while they had beer. I never saw how Yeats got out the dog door or out of my fenced yard. This was likely by design, I think Yeats wanted to keep this as his little secret.
There will be other cats and other pets, I'm sure, but Yeats will remain my first true love.