When you’re painting an entire living room while attempting to also live in that space things can get a little messy. I’d ignored that little voice in my head that I’ve been ignoring for so many years that told me to cover the paint tray. I wasn’t going to be painting the second coat of blue on the wall for at least two hours. Instead, I just pulled the tarp over the tray and forgot about it.
There are certain genetic traits that cats have that draws them to paper bags and confined areas. Maybe it’s the perfect cover from their hunting days millions of years ago. Regardless, Dude, my son’s 9 year-old cat, apparently found the tunnel I’d made a perfect scouting location.
We were convinced that Dude was actually a dog trapped in a cat’s body. Guests would arrive and he’d run to meet them faster than our dog. He’d hang around parties, buddying up to anyone who’d be foolish enough to pet him and get a handful of white and black fur in return. He was also too clever, as we discovered him one day trying to turn the doorknob to let himself out. Fortunately, the lack of opposable thumbs slowed down his escape plans.
As I painted the ceiling, worrying more about my sore neck and shoulders than anything else, Patrice came downstairs and gasped. Blue paw prints ran across the area rug, on the furniture, down to the basement on on three chairs and a dresser down there as well. Plenty of blame to go around (and husbandly-self righteousness). Dude merely sat on the blue-speckled radiator staring at the both of us, with his hind leg a perfect match to our walls.
Over the next few weeks, we scraped away at the various marks we found as Dude somehow eradicated all of the paint perfectly from himself. (I’m still not clear on cats’ amazing ability of scrubbing themselves.) We had our Christmas party and celebrated the new downstairs color-scheme. New Years’ eve came and went with Dude an integral part of the festivities. Whenever someone went down the basement, they’d laugh at the blue prints we’d neglected. The power of a good conversation-piece can’t be underestimated.
Two weeks ago last night, Dude died. My son, unfortunately, was the one to find him lying peacefully beside his favorite radiator. We were thunderstruck; he’d showed no signs of illness. Patrice’s sister, a vet-tech, suggested that it might have been a blood-clot. We buried him that afternoon and went back inside doing what you always do when a pet leaves you–seeing him out of the corner of your eye in his usual spots. I continue to open the back-door and expect him to be carefully tucked beside the recycling bag ready to bolt.
I took the picture of his paw prints this morning and am very grateful we weren’t the diligent housekeepers we dream ourselves to be.