Blackberry had always cried in the night, but the caterwauling was even more plaintiff the last few days, and when she skipped her meal Thursday night, I knew my 16-year-old cat was not long for this world. The first thing I heard Friday morning was an all-too-familiar moaning; I have lost cats before.
She was lying next to the water dish; I began to stroke her as gently as I could, and as if she had been waiting for me to wake up and say goodbye, she passed quietly a few minutes later.
Just after the Independence Day holiday in July 2007, I turned onto the Highway 41 on-ramp near our home and almost immediately a tiny black streak shot across the road.
“That was a kitten,” I said to myself, and I pulled to the side of the ramp.
“Home!” cried a little voice from the brush. “Home! Home!” The tiny cat poked her face out at me looking hopeful.
We had six cats at home, so of course I was going to rescue this one. I took her home — I was very late to work that day — and called Red to let her know we were up to seven. We agreed that we would look for a permanent home — who keeps seven cats?!?! — but the fact that Number 7 was still around until Friday morning tells you how well that worked. I almost called her E.T. because of the way she kept crying “Home!” but Red overruled me and dubbed her Blackberry.
I had had at least one cat in the house constantly since 1979, so it’s weirdly quiet around here with only two golden retrievers to keep me company. Blackberry was not the most affectionate cat ever, at least not to humans. She loved walking up to a dog and licking them around the eyes and nose. And the dogs seemed to love it, too.
I buried her next to Pumpkin, Beeker, Cody, Bam-Bam, and Boop — Hemi was cremated and I still need to deal with his ashes — and darned if Summer and Dejah went out to the new little grave as soon as I let them back in the yard, as if to pay their respects. I was keeping my emotions in check until I saw that.