Last summer, our beloved family cat Gandalf died. If you are a close friend of mine, or a relative then you will know I had an adore/dislike relationship with my cat. I loved him many times, but he irritated me when he would do things like claw my furniture, or claw under the beds, or get stuck inside of a massive stereo speaker that my husband refused to get rid of.
Toward the end of Gandalf’s life he was very sick and his sickness was messy. I’ll say no more because really it would turn your stomach. I thought, mistakenly, that I would be glad when he finally departed. After all, I would no longer have to chase him off tables, bars, away from breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, and the hair would no longer have to be swept up on a daily basis. I swore, near the end of his life, that I would never get another animal again.
I was wrong about so many things.
When Gandalf died I cried like a baby. I was profoundly struck by just how much of a part of our family he was. He was that annoying relative who you love to complain about but would really miss if he was gone. I was even more surprised by how upset my kids were over the cat’s death. Sometimes, months later, they would just start crying and say how much they missed Gandalf.
Yet I didn’t really appreciate what a fine cat he was until my kids finally broke me down and talked me into getting another cat. Several weeks ago, we came home from the Rescue Society with a beautiful, three year old cat named Cupcake. Don’t let the sugary name fool you.
To our surprise, we learned rather quickly that not all cats will let you pet them whenever you want to. Not all cats like to be held like a baby. Not all cats don’t mind two young children charging around the house, playing drums, guitars, and the piano and shooting Nerf guns with their friends.
I have found myself over the last several weeks comparing Cupcake to Gandalf quite a few times, and I realized that Gandalf was really a super chill cat and Cupcake is not chill. She’s skittish and is not afraid to swat at you if she doesn’t like the way you approach her to pet her. Cupcake is playful for the allotted time of one hour a day that she feels like playing, instead of frisky all the time like Gandalf was. And Cupcake will hide the minute the noise level gets too loud.
However, because I remembered the adage of not comparing children or making sure if you do to see the unique things both kids bring to the table, I started thinking about all the ways Cupcake is different that are great. Cupcake never bolts! What a miracle. You had to shimmy out of our door when Gandalf was alive to make sure he didn’t try and escape his human prison.
Cupcake does claw, but she actually stops the minute you say ‘no Cupcake’. Cupcake has the loudest, most soothing purr on earth. You needed a microphone to hear Gandalf’s purr. Yet the best thing about Cupcake is what she has reminded me about―not all animals or humans are alike, and it is up to each of us to find the good and likeable things in them. And as a bonus, Cupcake is really helping to teach my kids about earning trust and patience. They’ve had to work to get her to let them pet her, and they have to work to keep her trust. What a great lesson to learn that trust takes work and continuous effort and is not always just given.
So I have officially said goodbye to Gandalf, though he will always have a place in my heart as the worst mouse catcher ever! And hello to Cupcake―the cat with capital S sass.
Have you ever gotten a new pet that you ended up comparing with an old one?
Have a great day!
Julie, The Marchioness of Mayhem