January 1, 1990,
December 24, 1998.
Hobbes was a quiet cat. He never had to say much
because his eyes did
all the talking. In recent days, Hobbes had seemed
so sad, and I couldn't figure out why. He was eating, drinking his water,
otherwise observing his daily routine, and yet...
Hobbes had to be with me every minute. He wanted
to be held and
hugged and groomed, as though he just couldn't
get close enough. This
was the cat who eight years earlier had been my
birthday surprise, a gift from my teen-age son and a woman friend who found
Hobbes at the Topeka Cat Association. I didn't want any kind of pet in
the house. They smell bad, they shed, and they tear up the drapes, and
cats are the worst of the bunch. But, it only took Hobbes about 10 seconds
to capture my heart and he clutched it tightly ever since.
Hobbes awakened me at 2 a.m., yowling and hissing
as though he'd
discovered an intruder. His pal, Stanley, was
racing around the room,
very disturbed by the sounds. Hobbes was lying
on the hallway floor, as he often did, but this time I knew we were in
terrible trouble. His back
legs were limp. He'd struggle to get up, and then
I telephoned my son, and then called the vet. Mikkel
drove while I cradled Hobbes as we headed across the city, chilled by fear
but believing we could get help. When the vet examined Hobbes, and muttered
an expletive, my heart began to ache. Hobbes had advanced heart disease,
the vet said, and was throwing clots. I then remembered a mysterious incident
18 months earlier, when Hobbes had difficulty walking and the vet theorized
that he'd chewed on a plant that didn't agree with him.
While there were marginal treatments, it was a
matter of waiting for the
next clot to hit, the vet said, and the prognosis
was very poor. There
would be pills and weekly blood tests and the
potential that the back legs would have to be amputated. But, I could not
inflict that future on my best buddy simply to spare myself awhile the
pain of losing him.
The vet left Mikkel and me alone to comfort Hobbes,
and each other. We
talked about the days and times we'd shared with
Hobbes, times when our relationship was so strained that all we had in
common -- that we could comfortably discuss -- was Hobbes The Cat...the
bridge between our hearts. So, as Mikkel and I gently stroked his glossy
orange coat, and looked into his trusting eyes, we told him what a good
job he had done all these years taking care of kitty business and how important
he was to us. I kissed his nose -- pink with three little black spots that
had come with age -- and then we let him leave the pain and fear behind.
Hobbes had such dignity. He reminded me of Walter
Hobbes was very loving. And, while it's an odd
thing to say about a cat,
Hobbes was dependable. He also was a little eccentric.
A young friend who frequently came to spend a few days almost got used
to the fact that no one could use the bathroom without Hobbes attending.
"Why is it," he finally asked, "that Hobbes has to go to the bathroom with
me, and then sits on my foot?" I have no idea.
I know that I will miss my best buddy a dozen times
a day. He'd give me about 10 minutes to settle in my bed at night, and
then he'd proceed to stroll across me to his spot where he'd curl up near
my face so that I could hear his soft snore and feel his breath warm my
skin. Sometimes, he’d clean my eyebrows. I guess they needed it.
When I drive up and park in front of the apartment,
he won't be sitting in the upstairs window watching for me. When I turn
on my computer, I won't feel him brushing against my legs before leaping
into my lap. I
won’t have a dozen blank pages suddenly added
to my project because
Hobbes rested his paw on the page down key.
Most of all, when I'm feeling sad, Hobbes won't
creep up next to me on
the couch, stretching his right front paw up to
gently pat my cheek, with
unmistakable concern shining from his eyes.
I miss him now.