Cats, like people, can have very different personalities. Some are friendly and curious while others are timid and fearful, like our cat, Powder.
He was, as you can guess, all white, hence the name. We adopted him from an animal shelter as a kitten. He was beautiful, with all white fur and bright blue eyes. Like most cats, his eyes changed to green over the years, but he was still a pretty cat. He grew to seven pounds, about average for an adult feline, but always seemed rather delicate compared with other male cats.
Powder was a strange creature even for a cat. So shy, he never came out when we had company. Friends joked that we didn’t really have a pet since they never saw him. When it was just me and my family, however, he would come out and snuggle with me or my husband and purr nonstop, then the fireplace would pop or a loud noise outside would make him jump and he would scurry off to one of his many hiding places.
He especially liked to lay in our closet, which was OK with us except for the layers of white fur left behind on our clothes. No amount of clothes brushes seemed to get rid of all the fur. My husband grumbled about it, but we know cats like to lay on things that smell like their loved ones, so it was hard to get too mad.
Visits to the vet were especially difficult for Powder. Getting him to go in a carrier was not a fun task. He was a Houdini when it came to getting out of it. And if he saw the carrier before I started the process, then finding him was another matter. The number of hiding places he could find was phenomenal. He could contort his body to fit in most any space in the house, and there are enumerable nooks and crannies available. This included the bottom of a dresser, which has about an inch of space below it. It boggles my mind how he was able to squeeze himself under and still be able to breath.
During the vet exams, Powder, scared but never daring to hiss or make a fuss, would shake nonstop while the doctor looked him over.
The funny thing was that when the visit was over, he would hop into the carrier without hesitation. I remarked about this the first time it happened and the vet assistant explained that cats are always ready to get back in their carriers because they know they are going home.
Toward the end of his life, he started to slow down and always looked tired. I had planned to take him to the doctor, but I knew how much he hated going. And maybe I was afraid of what they would suggest. I wasn’t ready for the end.
There was one particular afternoon when he didn’t seem to want to cuddle and was insistent on going outside. When we lounged on our deck, we would let him outside to wander for awhile in the yard, exploring or napping, and he would return within a short period. I sat on the deck that day and watched him as he started to go down the steps to the yard. He stopped suddenly and gave me this long sad look, then he left.
I remember thinking that I should stop him, but he really seemed to want to go. That was the last time I saw him alive. I read later that some cats like to be left alone when they feel bad or are dying. I know he went off that day to be alone in the end. That was what he wanted.
Just as I know that long last look he gave me was Powder’s way of saying goodbye.
Jean Simmons is a Nashville native, Franklin resident, former nurse and published author. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.