The Survivalist Generation

The survivalists.

Every generation of cats is different.

Long ago, we adopted our first generation of free kittens.  It was like living in a picture book:  they daintily drank milk, adorably raced around the apartment chasing toys, and once ventured through a loose panel in the linen cupboard which led under the floor.  Naturally, they got lost.  We had to walk above them and call their names to guide them back through the panel.

Recently, we had a survivalist generation of cats.  The strong-willed tortoiseshell (pictured above) and the white cat with brown and gray markings hopped into the tub first thing in the morning to lap water out of the faucet.  They also drank out of their bowl, but the tub had a fascination for them.

They lived to be very, very old ladies.  They died in 2019.  We miss them so much.

Illustration by B. Kliban

A friend said recently, “What if there’s heaven for cats and not people?”

We all believe in heaven for cats!

And here’s a lovely poem:

“On the Death of a Cat,” by Christina Rossetti

Who shall tell the lady’s grief
When her Cat was past relief?
Who shall number the hot tears
Shed o’er her, beloved for years?
Who shall say the dark dismay
Which her dying caused that day?

Come, ye Muses, one and all,
Come obedient to my call.
Come and mourn, with tuneful breath,
Each one for a separate death;
And while you in numbers sigh,
I will sing her elegy.

Of a noble race she came,
And Grimalkin was her name.
Young and old full many a mouse
Felt the prowess of her house:
Weak and strong full many a rat
Cowered beneath her crushing pat:
And the birds around the place
Shrank from her too close embrace.
But one night, reft of her strength,
She laid down and died at length:
Lay a kitten by her side,
In whose life the mother died.
Spare her line and lineage,
Guard her kitten’s tender age,
And that kitten’s name as wide
Shall be known as her’s that died.

And whoever passes by
The poor grave where Puss doth lie,
Softly, softly let him tread,
Nor disturb her narrow bed.

8 thoughts on “The Survivalist Generation”

  1. After losing seven much loved pets within a 12-year span, I swore we’d have no more pets. However, two years ago, with my husband whining that he missed pets, we adopted a 7-year-old cat. I got her for my husband, but, naturally, she adores me and tolerates him. She now has bad habits that she didn’t have (or didn’t show us) at first: drinking from any faucet except the kitchen faucet, which means that we often walk into a bathroom hours after turning the water on for her and finding the water still running (why won’t she turn it off when she’s finished?!), and footprints on my piano and the kitchen counters. Still, she makes us laugh most days and I’m glad she lives with us.

    1. Cats are the best! There are always human “adjustments,” though. They don’t pay the least attention to whether we prefer our counters and pianos to be NO TRESPASSING. They’re very sweet animals, though.

  2. I could not live without a cat (or more). As I read recently somewhere, they are like music. It’s pointless to try to explain their worth to those unfortunates who can’t appreciate them.

    1. They are family members. This seems to be “a dog town, or so I read in an article, and though I dearly love both, cats are my favorites.

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