Flutterby™! : So long, Spirit

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So long, Spirit

2006-11-06 14:58:39.826797+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

[]As expected, our cat Spirit died sometime early Sunday morning. Defining a "good dog" is fairly easy, dogs have expected behavior patterns, dogs go for obedience and attention. Defining a "good cat" is less easy. Cats are, nominally, their own creatures. There are plenty of situations, as in barn cats for instance, where cats survive largely without the intervention of humans, part of the human ecosystem, but not subsistent.

Our cats are more dependent on us (I think), and as we saw Spirit dying, and worked on trying to make his last days as comfortable as possible (toward the end there we were offering at least five different types of food, from tuna to fresh chicken livers), a curious thing happened: I think I started to understand religion.

While I've enjoyed the peaceful feeling that religious ritual and ceremony can offer, I've always run up against the problem that at some core level, I don't believe. Not that at some points in my life I haven't tried, but not only have I been unable to see any evidence of that omnipotent omniscient personally interested deity, I've been unable to understand how others do.

Spirit was always an amazingly trusting cat. Trips to the vet were only a problem if he got car sick. We actually had to be very careful about pills around him because if we dropped a pill he'd try to eat it; giving him medicine was no problem.

As he neared the end, perhaps I was just projecting on to him, but Spirit kept looking to us for solutions. "No, this food isn't working for me", "I'm in pain", "I need to be warmer", "let me out", "let me in", "give me water". At some point in that I realized that, relative to the cat, I existed on a plane that was, no conceit intended, god-like. The topology of Spirit's world changed as I opened and closed doors, food magically appeared, when he climbed into the shower after the water left there when we got out, I could make the rain start and stop.

And yet I wasn't omniscient, I couldn't take away the pain, and I couldn't make him live forever. And I think somewhere in there I started to understand what people believe in when they believe in gods.

[ related topics: Religion Dan's Life Cats ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-06 15:12:35.395213+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Spirit's spirit,
silently testified
shared lovingly


#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-06 17:05:57.777196+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

My condolences as well.

We had a similar experience in communication recently with our younger cat, Hanuman. We've fed our older cat, also named Spirit, a mostly raw-food diet since she first came into our lives. It was always based on turkey and chicken - mostly becuase in Chattanooga we could get good ground turkey at Greenlife. Hanuman never really cared for it and recently stopped eating both our homemade turkey concoction and the great store-bought raw chicken-based cat food prefering dry kibbles. Spirit loved it because she would eat Hanuman's raw food and leave him her dry food.

The other day, Asha and I started thinking about their personalities. Spirit has always been a "birder". She managed to catch two birds from the balcony of our apartment in Chattanooga. She liked toys on strings that flew around. Hanuman, on the other hand, is a "mouser". He doesn't like hte flying toys and prefers things on the floor. He gets really excited when you drag a toy on a string so it goes underneath something.

We thought that maybe Hanuman just doesn't like to eat bird meat. The only rodent we could get was rabbit. We brought it home and he immediately gobbled it up and even licked his bowl clean. For the first time in months, he seemed very settled and happy.

What made us realize that this was clearly something in his personality is that Spirit won't even touch the rabbit. She turns her nose up at it just like Hanuman was turning his nose up at the chicken and turkey.

So now, we have to buy two different kinds of cat food. But that makes sense because we have two different kinds of cats!

#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-07 13:49:06.99964+00 by: warkitty

Indeed, it was Jack London who first inspired me to realize that to the beasts in our care, we are Gods. Minor dieties with motives as infathomable to them as those we call diety are to us. It occurs to me in fact that our feeble attempts at prayer are as understood by them as the prayers these creatures offer up to us are to our own attempt to understand. Sometimes, it takes a bit to recognize what that animal is asking for (though as I type this I know precisely what the dog at my door is praying I do for her... she is praying I open that door and let her in because its raining, though she's a perfectly dry shelter with nice blankets to curl up on in the garage...).

I have no illusion that my gods are omnipotent, being polytheistic would make that a logical fallacy. Nor do I consider them omniscient as that would mean I had no need for prayer. To me they are and always have been beings with more power than I that may or may not have my individual best interests at heart. A hard way of looking at diety for Christians around the globe, but there it is.

Anyway, Spirit had good fortune in her gods caring so deeply as to make those final days as comfortable as possible. Its never easy to say goodbye, so my heart goes out to you for having to do so.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-11 00:50:23.69458+00 by: Shawn

Spirit, I did not know you. But your spirit will live on in my own [feline] children, and that of all others with loving "parents". You will be missed, but not forgotten - and forever loved.