My cat played with her toy mouse for the first time in years last night. It was bizarre seeing her have so much energy after being so motionless for so long. The doctor said she had problems with her heart, leading to inactivity. It comes with old age, I guess.
Considering everything I knew about her health condition, it was shocking to see her play with the little blue mouse on the end of the white string, Twirling through the air with her claws out, pawing desperately at the tiny rodent that taunted her from the air. My brother and I howled with laughter when she got so excited she let out a sharp hiss at the toy.
The past few years of my cat’s life were spent asleep. Well, scratch that. They were either spent asleep or eating or begging to be fed. Her ear splitting meows would echo from the kitchen into the living room as my brother and I fought over who would be the one to feed her, (hint: it was very rarely me). After she would eat she would curl up in a little ball on the couch and pass out for a few hours before getting up and repeating the process.
We got my cat when I was around four. It was important for me to have her around when dad left. She filled his spot on the couch and played with the mouse toy back when she still had energy. Now she sits there and sleeps. A few claw marks dot the cushions from her glory days. It’s not so much dad’s spot now as it is hers.
“I haven’t seen her with this much energy in years,” said my brother, staring in disbelief as my cat leaped across the living room to chase the mouse.
“Me either,” I replied, dodging a missed swipe from my beloved pet. “Are you feeling better, Staria?” I asked in a sing-song voice staring into my cat’s eyes.
Her green eyes were dilated with excitement at playing again. Her ears angled backward alertly on her head and her tail bobbed up and down on the ground with excitement. Staria obviously didn’t reply to my question seeing as she was a cat who’s brain can’t comprehend the complexities of human language, but I felt like her answer was clear. She continued to dart around the room making my heart glow with joy at seeing her happy again.
I don’t know if it was some kind of divine timing or whatever, but she passed a few days later. She was seventeen years old so it’s safe to say that it wasn’t completely unexpected. She curled up peacefully at the foot of my bed and closed her eyes for the last time. I stroked her back not quite realizing what was happening until it was over.
Initially, I was struck with sadness. But eventually that would transform into something greater. Sure, I was sad that Staria passed onto the next of her nine lives but in the following week of her passing I felt something else. I felt strangely grateful as I looked back at old photos of her attacking my brother when he used to jump around and throw toys her way. I laughed when a video from when we first got her appeared on my mom’s Facebook archive. There was a tinge of sadness with each memory of her but the twinge was overshadowed by the ever present feeling of gratitude.
I was thankful that Staria had lived. Thankful that I got to make so many memories with an animal who probably couldn’t comprehend the complexities of the emotions I was feeling. My heart still glows thinking about all the nights she calmed down just by being there when I had a panic attack at midnight.
I’ll probably get another cat when I move out and start my own life, but I doubt any cat could match Staria’s level of greatness. Seventeen years of her greatness. Sure, the last few years were spent feeling a little low, but that last night where she played with the mouse again made up for it. So yes, while I mourn the loss of my pet, I think I’m more grateful than I am upset. There was something special about that cat.
People say that cats aren’t very loving. Unlike dogs they don’t need constant attention and don’t give much back in return. I think that’s a lie. Although sometimes stoic and antisocial, she still captivated my brother and I’s love for twelve years. You might not believe it, but there was something special about that Staria Ace. Something worth being grateful for.
Reyna Ace is a sixteen year old girl living in Salt Lake City, Utah, who loves to skateboard, hang out with friends and write whenever she gets the chance. She was published in this magazine last month.