Leaving my gray-and-white tabby cat, Lucy, at home for the first time while I traveled for work was traumatic. In the days leading up to my departure, Lucy repeatedly climbed into my suitcase and stretched herself out to her full 23-inches to let me know I had packed all the essentials I would need for my trip. Even as I finally evicted her from my suitcase, zipped it up, and headed for the front door, Lucy did not seem to fully comprehend that I was really going away.
In my four-day absence, Lucy sat on her haunches in the hallway just outside the front door; her ears perked for the slightest sound. There, she watched and waited, only leaving her post for the briefest of moments to eat, drink, and use her litter box. She then resumed her lookout duty, even sleeping in the front hallway for three nights until I returned home. My family told me she was inconsolable.
I always knew I was coming back for Lucy, but she didn’t. As far as she was concerned, I had disappeared – possibly forever – beyond the mysterious door she couldn’t open thanks to her lack of opposable thumbs.
When I returned home, Lucy followed me everywhere, refusing to leave my side. Once she felt secure enough that I would not leave her again, she began to ignore me – as all good cats do – and we fell back into our regular rhythm. Little did either of us know that we would be separated once more – only this time for good.
Lucy was diagnosed with a very rare form of skin cancer called Bowen’s Disease. Despite every medical intervention, Lucy’s cancer spread to her front paws, her ears, chin, cheeks, and eyes, and she became increasingly sicker and withdrawn. Her quality-of-life had severely diminished. In consultation with her veterinarian, her oncologist, and cardiologist, we determined it was time to end Lucy’s suffering. It was a gut-wrenching and emotionally devastating experience saying goodbye to Lucy, but I was fortunate to be able to hold her as she traveled beyond this world. She was just 10-years-old. We didn’t get enough time together.
Now I am the inconsolable one waiting on the other side of the front door, waiting for Lucy to come home, to follow me around, and to remind me of my failings and shortcomings as both a human and a pet owner. In the meantime, my suitcase is packed once more, and I saved plenty of room for Lucy.
About the Author:
Allison C. Witty is a lifelong animal lover and freelance writer living in New York City. She is proud to say she has met and pet nearly all the dogs in her neighborhood, but regrettably, has yet to win over any of the cats.