spectrum birds in colourwheel treesI made a rather happy painting for a journal today…did this in the morning, and in the hours after lunch, before I went to visit a neighbour on her boat. I’m glad I got it all finished before I went, I don’t think I could paint something so happy now.

I went to have tea this afternoon on Cathy’s boat, just next to ours. Was just trying to be a bit more sociable, and spend a little time with all the folks who have been so nice to me, before I go. While there, I brought up the subject of Dude coming to stay with her, and she told me she had rather hoped I was going to bring him over when I came for tea, and had been very excited. I felt rather abashed…she has been waiting a long time now for Dude…I have been putting it off, first telling her to wait till August, then till September. Now September’s at an end, and it suddenly seemed very selfish of me to keep her hanging on for another month or two. I guess I kept hoping for ‘the right moment’ to announce itself…for when I finally felt ‘ready’ to give Dude up. I realised, sitting with her, that I will never be ready. Now is as good a time as any. So I left her boat an hour or two later, promising to come right back with the cat.

I took my time preparing a crate for him to travel in…weaving two ropes in and out of the holes so they wouldn’t slip, and preparing the loops on the ends so that I could quickly tie the lid onto the crate once the cat was inside.

I picked him up, and started to sob, feeling his silky, soft fur and plump warm body for the last time. The silly sausage was purring…he is such a docile and gentle cat. He didn’t fight when I put him in the crate, and didn’t go wild once he was sealed in. I tied the crate up, and he sat quietly inside, wondering what the game was. He didn’t start to complain until he was in the dinghy. Every plaintive meow brought another flood of tears. I rowed him over to Cathy’s boat, because I didn’t want to traumatise him with the sound of the outboard.

We got the crate aboard, and I handed a bag over with his plate, his water bowl, his biscuits, and his brush, snuffling the whole time. She waited until I had rowed away before she opened the crate up.

I had to go back a second time, with his cat litter. Dude got very agitated, and Cathy and I swapped thingsโ€”she handed me back the crate and ropes, I handed her the litterโ€”via her dinghy, so that I wouldn’t come too close to the sailboat. As I rowed away a second time, he seemed to be looking for a way to jump over the guard rails and into the water. Cathy distracted him, and then he just sat on the back deck, watching me row away. Since I got back on board, i have tried not to look out the window at her boat…I don’t want to see him looking across the water. I think I’ll sob all night, tonight.

A part of me feels breathless…I surprised myself by just up and doing what had to be done, and it’s only starting to sink in now that Dude is not with me. I’ll miss his purring by my shoulder in bed, the adorable way he likes to sleep with his head high up on a pillow like a person, the considerate way he has learned to ‘massage’ and claw at the bedclothes just next to me, and not into my arm or head, and the sight of him stretched lazily out on the carpet at my feet.

I’ve been reduced to a leaky, snuffling mess. Cats, of course, are not like humans, they are practical and resilient creatures that live every moment fully in the present. He is not suffering the way I am suffering. He’ll be a bit put out, and he’ll look for me and the boat he used to live on, for some time. But on the whole he will settle into his new life with his new human, I think, much faster than I will get used to living without him.

I have got another two months of living here to get through, and my biggest fear is that Dude will one day try to swim across if he sees me on board. I hope, hope, hope he stays at his new home, and that the sight of me coming or going doesn’t make things difficult for Cathy.

This is just one of several tearful separations coming up…October is going to be a weepy, emotional, difficult month. Lots of advice about following your dreams will mention the pulling up of metaphorical anchors…it sounds romantic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. At least, not when the other end of every anchor chain is fastened firmly to the center of your heart.

21 thoughts on “Dude

  1. My husband and I are temporarily living at my parent’s place. Before we married, he had a cat. My whole family is allergic to cats. I was willing to get allergy shots so that we could keep her when we move out, but no one would care for her in the meantime. Finally we decided to see if she could live in the garage (there was already a cat door there from a previous homeowner). It was exciting to think of having a cat. My husband (and I, in theory) cleaned out an area for her, got stuff for her and brought her in. The next night she was gone. The day after that, I heard frantic mewing, and went to check on her…. but I hit the open garage door button instead of the identical light button. And she was gone. She hasn’t been seen since. Something else has been coming in, finished her food, tore open her treat bags and ate everything. I think it was a neighborhood cat, and that that cat probably chased ours away. A rat has also left some droppings. And the day after the cat was gone, someone offered to take the cat. At least you had someone you trust with your little darling.


  2. โค I have always found it hard to say goodbye to animals, partly because it's not complicated in the ways that saying goodbye to people can be complicated. You're not preoccupied with the practical ways in which their absence will impact on you, or on how you will stay in touch. Partings with humans are so big – there is a lot to get your head around. With animals, it's just sadness, pure and simple. Best wishes for Dude – I'm sure will be happy with his new human!


  3. Hello dear, what I find interesting about your painting in relation to your story is this: Your painting shows each little bird snug and secure in it’s own separate tree. LIke you, and your kitty, you now live in separate places, but will both have peace. You need to remember that you have found a safe and happy place for Dude to live and he will enjoy living the mariner cat’s life long into the future. ๐Ÿ™‚ You did well.


  4. Your whimsical painting attracted me to this post, but the writing made me stay. I, too, had to give up my dog before moving to China. It’s been about 10 years now, and I’m sure Bailey wouldn’t remember me, but I sure won’t forget him.


        1. They do suffer emotionally. They like us just have to adapt and keep living. wow i can’t believe people think that animals don’t have emotions and go threw many things we do. The only difference is they can’t voice theirs.


  5. When I moved from the Big Island to Maui I had to leave my cat Bishop behind. That was over a year ago and I still cry when I think of her. Your post brought a flood of tears so I certainly feel you pain. I’m hoping to someday be reunited, but like you said, “cats live i the present” and she has probably forgotten me by now.


    1. I take comfort from knowing that cats are unburdened by remembering or by emotional reflection…it’s okay to miss him deeply, I think what made me so miserable yesterday was that I couldn’t help but project my feelings onto him, and imagined that he was suffering, like a child would, from the separation. After all these years of living with cats, I should’ve known better than to saddle him with human drama! If anything, he is disgruntled by the change, and cranky that things aren’t as he is accustomed to. The hassle of training a new human. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      He’ll be fine. I’ll be a puffy-eyed wreck for a bit longer, though. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. I think he will only be disoriented and maybe disgruntled by the changes: cats are creatures of habit and routine. I console myself with knowing that between the two of us, only I suffer an emotional separation, because I have the luxury of recalling the past and mourning it. Most animals are so blessedly unburdened by reflection and remembrance.


      1. You are so right about this observation~ It really is we humans who suffer most when having to separate from beloved pets~ although I can think of a few instances that might make you question just how much some of them are truly aware of~ but as you say they are fortunate not to be able to recall the past or to mourn it’s passing~ Knowing this should make it a little easier. I am sure so many brilliant things await you in your new life. All the very best . Positive energy being sent in your direction!


  6. Your entire post had me in tears from beginning to end. So much of what you describe and feel resonated in a very personal way for me. I only recently went through the death of a little cat I had rescued years ago~ and just as you said all these creatures both animal and human are connected(anchored) directly to our hearts . We are never really ready to say goodbye to anything we love and care for. It is difficult on so many levels to make changes , even when there is something positive waiting ahead for us ~(much of it which we are unable to even see or visualize) Will be thinking of you and all the many changes you will be experiencing as you say goodbye to your old life to go on to embrace a new one. All the best to you. Take care.


    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head…unsure of what lies ahead, I find myself questioning the huge price I have had to pay for following our dreams. I was so happy and snug in my comfort zone! (A good indication that I really do need to follow those dreams! Without the push I think I would be happy to turn into a moss-covered boulder!) A part of me cringes at the level of emotion I am investing in what really feels like a “first world problem”…the cat is, after all, in a loving environment, will be cared for, and I am projecting human emotions onto an animal that is famous for being nothing, if not detached!
      Thank you for the lovely message. We’ll be okay. I look forward to what lies ahead, it will be amazing, I know.


  7. I left my first message, before reading the story which followed such a beautiful painting. I can relate to your story here and can feel the heartache within your words. Time heals and the future holds brand new adventures for you.. Take care of you….


    1. Thanks, it’s okay, we’ll be okay ๐Ÿ™‚ It helps to know that his new human loves him so much, that he’ll probably change her life, and that yes, cats are practical creatures that aren’t saddled with the baggage of the past, and so don’t suffer what might have been, or what used to be. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will be very reluctant to get another cat someday, though…I guess we move around too much, it’s not fair to the animals.


    1. I’m glad you can see a bigger picture…helps to remind me that there is one. Times like these, the little things are so magnified, all I see is raw emotion and the pain of separation. I have survived being separated from my pets before, and both I and they survived it…took me a year, though, to stop crying over it.
      Thanks, Boo, I’m off to check out your site now! ๐Ÿ™‚


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