September 25, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday, Milo

It's definitely getting harder and harder to still say he'd be however old if he were still alive; cats can live to be 18 but not very often, and especially not if they go outside. But I can still pretend.

Usually twice a year I write about how that cat was more than a cat: the day he was born and the day he died. Milo was the best Christmas present I could have ever imagined and there's nothing I could think that could be better. I might've only gotten 8 years with him, which was entirely too few, but in those 8 years he affected a lot of people.

Milo was the love of my life. But he was a lot of things to a lot of other people, too. Milo was the big strong brother of Peanut, my sister's cat. He defended her against the other cats in the neighborhood, taking them on in the middle of the night, even losing part of his fang. Milo and Peanut would tear though our house like horses, chasing each other in their games. They would both taunt the neighbor dog, a giant German shepherd, who got loose twice to nearly kill each of them.

When we got bunk beds, Milo spent more nights in my sister's bed than mine because cats like to be up high. One morning she woke up covered in feathers and had a small panic attack. Milo was a very successful hunter and she tore through her bed looking for the body of the poor bird he had undoubtedly dragged to her bed. It turned out that he only killed her dream catcher, not a live bird.

Milo didn't get along with the other animals in our house, though. He'd watch the birds with interest, probably wondering why we'd keep them in the house in a cage, he ran from the dog, and he mostly hated my sister's cat, Scar. Scar was BFF with the neighbor cat and they played all the time (Milo was way too good to join in). But when their games led to Scar's death, Milo started to tolerate (even befriend) the neighbor cat. I found them laying on the sunny grass right next to each other, as if having some sort of cat conversation.

Soon after that, Milo started to go over to the neighbor's house in the mornings. He'd help himself to the other cat's food (it was more expensive than what I fed him), get into bed with the neighbor girl and wake her up, and spend a few minutes with the family. The mom was the first one to find him after he'd been hit by a car, and she was as distraught as my own mom.

I'd always thought I'd take Milo to college with me, and it wasn't until I got there that I realized he would have hated it. I suppose it was for the best that I didn't have to make that decision; in our home he could roam where he wanted, he knew enough to avoid predators and cars (making his death highly suspicious), and was king of his land. He might not have done so well in San Diego, but leaving him would have killed me.

As always, I'll end this by saying I know no cat will ever be like Milo was, even though that will never stop me from keeping and loving Chloe and any future cats. But maybe tonight Chloe will get some extra love, a can of wet food and maybe a little catnip, just because.

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