This morning my dad had our family cat, Eliot, put to sleep after it became clear that his kidney problems were going to get him sooner rather than later. I was sad that my dad told me this after the fact, because the Kleins have been together for all other pet euthanasia. Eliot was the last pet who knew my mom—they spent many hours napping together when she was sick—and Eliot’s absence feels like one more way she’s not in the world.
I think about that sometimes: how the décor of my dad’s house is looking worn and dated, how it’s easy to forget that when my mom put that stuff up, it was new and creative. I want to remember her as new and creative.
I also want to give Eliot his moment: This isn’t all about my mom and vague feelings of familial distance. I’m going to miss Eliot himself, a slight orange tabby my dad referred to as “you useless cat,” usually while scratching him lovingly on the head.
When we adopted Eliot my sophomore year of college, he was a year-and-a-half-old cat named Gonzo, recently returned to the rescue organization because he hadn’t gotten along well with his previous family’s other cats. My dad, a sucker for orange tabbies and full-grown cats (kittens being more or less furry little balls of advertising), was sucked in.
Eliot remained an only cat at our house but developed a charming buddyship with Niko, the elderly Siamese across the street. My dad took to leaving breakfast on the back porch for Niko every morning. I used to wonder how Eliot would fare once Niko was gone, but now I wonder how Niko will do.
Eliot was on the prissy side—he lined his litter box with dryer sheets he found in the garage, although he didn’t have much use for fancy cat food, which may explain part of the reason he earned a place in my dad’s cheapskate heart. He was a talker—not a yeller/whiner like OC, but an utterer of matter-of-fact meows repeated at frequent and regular intervals. He jumped off the second story deck twice. He liked opening presents and eating tapioca pudding.
RIP, Eliot, and say hi to Mom for me.