5: Jethro

5: Jethro

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Jethro

No one ever really dies as long as they took the time to leave us with fond memories.

~Chris Sorensen

Jethro came into my life many winters ago as a stray. I would be in my house, sitting before the fire with my beloved Daisy, who was quite happy to have me to herself. She had neither the need nor the desire for anyone to interrupt our cozy twosome. As we sat cuddled up together Jethro would jump on the outside windowsill and peer inside, crying for our attention. At first, I would slip outside to take him some food. I’d pet him awhile and try to coax him into the garage for warmth. Sometimes he’d take me up on that offer, but mostly he just wanted to be inside our house, instead of outside looking in.

Daisy would react with predictable fury when she saw Jethro outside the window. She would hiss and growl, swat at the glass, and try to impress upon him that he was neither wanted nor needed.

Eventually, I would sneak Jethro inside while Daisy slept in another room. Seeming to know that he had to be quiet, Jethro wouldn’t meow or make a sound. He would get his fill of food, then lie contentedly on that big couch that he had first spied from the window, happy and secure in his new world.

Of course, Daisy soon caught on that he was slipping inside. She could smell his presence, even after he left. So I began to let him in right in front of her, reasoning that she would soon grow to love him as I had.

Jethro became a full-fledged member of the household, with all the rights that came along with it. Much to my surprise, he adored Daisy. He followed her from room to room, slept as close to her as she would allow, and was never far from her side, no matter how much she protested. Of course, Daisy did not share his enthusiasm. She would swat him away when he got too close, glare at him when he walked by, and generally treat him with the disdain that only a cat can pull off so successfully.

Although she never loved Jethro, Daisy did grow to tolerate his presence and life went on. Over the years, I moved a couple of times, married and had a son. Through each change in my life, my beloved kitties came along for the ride. Their relationship never changed. Jethro went on adoring Daisy, and she went on tolerating him in her own way.

At nineteen years of age, Daisy developed kidney failure. I took her to our vet and tried everything possible to save her, but she was just worn out. I finally had to make that horrible decision to have her put down. I still remember leaving the house with her the final time, stooping over to let Jethro give her one last little sniff. When I came home without her, Jethro was lost. He searched the house for a couple of days, and then settled into what I can only call a depression. He would lie in a corner of our living room, shielded from sight by a large chair, barely eating or drinking. I would try to coax him out, but he would have none of it.

After a few weeks, he began to come around a bit. He didn’t isolate himself as much, and began to act more normally. I thought he was getting over his grief and forgetting about our Daisy. Life went on.

Approximately fourteen months after we lost Daisy, I was cleaning out a drawer and found some old VHS home movies. I popped one in our player and there was Daisy. We had taped her lying on our son’s bed as I read him a bedtime story. Every time I would speak, she would roll around and meow at me. On the tape, my son and I were laughing at her as her sweet little meows filled the room.

From upstairs, I heard Jethro come running down the steps at full speed. He had heard his Daisy and was looking for her. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This cat, which had never paid attention to anything on a television screen before, saw his beloved Daisy and stood on his hind legs, touching the screen with his front paws and meowing back at her. He stood mesmerized until I turned the television off. I sat there stunned as I realized the depth of Jethro’s grief for his friend, and his still constant love of her.

I tried replaying the tape later to show my husband Jethro’s reaction, but this time there was nothing. He seemed to have figured out she wasn’t really there, but the memory of that moment has never left me. We lost our beloved Jethro almost two years to the day that Daisy passed. Their ashes are now together in a small urn, and while I feel that Daisy tolerates this last indulgence, I’m sure Jethro’s heart soars.

~Lynn Rogers

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