Tonight, we buried a black cat in our backyard. My very good friends, D and K, who have been roomates since Ohio, lost their cat on Tuesday to a car. D was about to leave for LAX, to catch a flight back to Cincinnati, when a neighbor came up to ask if they had a black cat. She had found their pet on the side of the road, where he’d dragged himself to die. K called me around 9:30 to tell me, in tears and shock that she hasn’t come out of yet.
We all loved Jack. Even I, with my allergies, and my non-enthusiasm for felines, adored him. He had more charisma than any cat I’ve ever known. He played fetch, like a dog. He tried to drink out of the toilet. He would wake the girls up by batting at their faces with his paws. He would trot out to the mailbox with K when she got home from work. And he was an absolutely beautiful cat, the kind that looks like its made out of perfect black velvet, except for one white streak on his chest. (Strangely enough, Izzy, our household black lab, also has the same streak)
Jack was adorable, and sweet, and affectionate. He was a people cat, if such a thing can exist. He would ride around on K’s shoulder, and then leap to someone else. He was just like his owners – outgoing and good-hearted – and now he’s gone.
I was the one who put him in the grave tonight. My guy housemate dug a cat-sized grave in the backyard, and four of us – him, me, K and another Jewish girl friend, T – were there to lay him to rest. K couldn’t bear to even watch, so T and I together lifted him out of the box K had put him in, where he was wrapped in a towel. And then, as T said the Jewish kaddish for the dead, I unwrapped him and placed him in the grave, tucking his feet in and closing his eyes. I put his toys in the grave with him, petted him one last time, scratched him behind one ear, and then stood up while my roomate shoveled the dirt back in.
We secured the grave against other animals – including our own – as best we could, with concrete pieces and hardpacked dirt, and left a candle burning at the site. We’ll have another memorial Monday, when D comes home. For now, I can’t get the image out of my head, of this beloved cat, who looked like he was just napping, and his cute little velvet face just before we covered it. I will miss him – and it is heartbreaking, how sad D & K are. The cat isn’t there to meet them at the door anymore, and their house is empty, and the little black cat that D has had for years and years is gone.
If that wasn’t enough, another friend lost his cat this morning to a car. This is just not a good week for cats, or for my friends. This has been a week of multiple deaths, human and animal, in the families of those people I care about. I hope it’s over, I hope the streak has stopped.