Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Adventures of Luna

I always thought that she would outlive us all. Stupidly maybe, seeing as she really was only a cat, and the average lifespan of a domestic indoor cat ranges from 12 to 15 years. But Luna was more than your average cat, and always seemed timeless, living through more than some human beings live through in their lives. She was born in some place that only she knew about, abandoned by her mother and left, obviously the runt of the litter, to die alone. She was found by a friend of mine’s mother, and placed in an incubator. Thirteen years ago I received a phone call from my friend saying he had found a tiny black cat with green eyes, and would I like to meet her… Three hours later I brought my little Luna home to the apartment I shared with my best friend Maud in Grenoble. I had to feed her kitty milk from a little bottle and teach her how to eat. I had to teach her how to find and use her litter tray and during the first few days I had to try to coax her out of the most impossible hiding places (under the stove being one example). On the third night I had nearly given up hope that she would ever come out, and I switched my bedroom light off and went to bed. Four minutes later she crept into my room, snuggled on my arm and from that moment in time it really was unconditional love.

She never really learnt how to meow, but purred louder than most cats, and would even purr in her sleep, as long as she was next to me. As she grew she would become more and more adventurous (walking along the railing of my fifth floor balcony or finding a way on to the roof to chase birds for example).  When I took her to the vet to get all of her vaccinations she decided he was in good need of a scratch and that the hiding spot behind his computer was a better place than his examination table (and she was right, he was an asshole anyway). Whenever I was sad or depressed she would curl up on my lap and stare at me until I smiled. We would dance around my apartment to the Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus, and she would sit with me and my friends while we got drunk listening to Cure records in my living room. 

Then I decided that I was quite over living in France for a while. My MA had been completed, all of my family was either in California or England, and I needed time away from everything. So I shipped all of my belongings over to my mum’s place in California, got Luna a good travel case and set off for the US. I bawled my eyes out at Charles de Gaulle airport when I had to hand her over at check-in, and didn’t sleep a wink during the 11 hour flight, thinking that she had died in the bottom of the plane. I made a vow that if she ever flew again she would be with me in the cabin. Of course she made it over alive, a little shaken up and a little annoyed at me for abandoning her, but she settled in very well in the house in California. She finally had the chance to explore the great outside, fighting with cats twice her size, at one time challenging a huge black and white snake that appeared in our back yard (at that moment I forgot my own fear of snakes and rushed out to grab her away from what could have been her death). She met up with her old friend and foe, Fury, my sister’s dog, and let herself be chased around the house until they both got bored of it and decided to live together peacefully by mainly ignoring each other. Although there were many times that I found her hiding on the stairs, waiting to catch Fury out with a hiss and a playful paw punch on her way down them.

In June of 2003 I had to leave the US for at least a year or risk being deported and not allowed back into the country. Not knowing where to go I decided to take up my aunt in Israel’s offer, and visit her for at least 3 months, and help her with her kids. I ended up staying there for over a year, and left Luna with my mum, knowing full well that she would be well looked after (although it broke my heart to leave her). She ended up becoming more aloof, going out into the wild for a few days on end, only coming back when she was hungry and in need of a good rest before her next adventure. Once I was back in California she hardly left the house again. By this time she had acquired a new enemy in the house, in the form of another cat called Muffin, an abandoned cat my mum and brother had adopted. While Luna had always held her own against other cats, Muffin proved to be another story. They hated each other from day one, and even when we tried all the tricks to get them to accept each other they didn’t. While Luna had been fine with Ludwig, her old friend in France (apart from the time that she hit him on the head with her paw, after that they were always together, cuddled up on my bed or chasing birds and flies), she never became friends with Muffin. In any case, Fury realised that she now had a more evil enemy in Muffin, and bonded with Luna. 

And then I had to leave once again. With no visa and no ability to work in the US I had to go back to Europe, this time to England, the one country where at the time all pets needed to be quarantined for 6 months on entry. There was no way I was subjecting her to that, so I left her in California once again. In the ten months I was in England I came back to visit once, for two weeks. The day before I arrived she came home for some food, but then disappeared. After two days I put posters up around the neighbourhood and on day three got a call saying that Luna was running around a backyard. I ran out, still in my pyjamas and flip flops and saw the little monster running through the green belt. She stopped when I called her name, and then ran off. I went home, saddened, until my sister called out to me to say that Luna was waiting patiently by the back door. For the rest of my stay she did not leave my side, only to go back to her adventures of neighbourhood cat queen when I left.

A few months later, Luna went away on another adventure, and stayed away so long that she had my mum worried. She finally crawled back home, dragging one of her back legs behind her. The vet ran tests and x-rays and the poor thing had severely torn ligaments in her back leg, with three options: amputation, surgery or a cast for a few months to see if she would heal naturally. While the vet kept pushing for amputation, after consulting with me my mum decided to go with the cast option. A few months later her leg was healed and she was able to jump up and down on things. At that point I finally had a visa to work in the States (albeit New York and not California) and I flew her back with me after spending Christmas with my family. She came to live with me in my tiny one bedroom apartment in Spanish Harlem, killed the mouse that had been living in the couch (the one I couldn’t kill because I hate mouse traps and refused to use poison because I knew Luna was going to be living there). From that moment onwards she never left me again. We moved to an even smaller apartment in the West Village, where she was more than happy to give up her outdoor adventures and stay inside, sleeping on my bed and waiting for me to get home from work or from my own adventures on the Lower East Side. 

A few years later we moved to a much bigger apartment in Bushwick, where she would wait for me to get home from work from her perfect spot on the couch from where she could watch the front door at all times. Her cat friend Ophelia would sometimes come to visit, and many friends would come over to cuddle her and listen to her purr. She loved people more than other animals, although I was always her first choice when it came to cuddling. My roommate once commented that it was as if she wanted to become part of me, never leaving my side and following me wherever I went, even waiting outside of the bathroom door while I showered. She never failed to jump on my bed and sleep next to me every night, even when she was annoyed at me for not coming home or for staying out too late. Her fur went from black to brown with age, but her eyes remained pure green, unless she was in a playful mood and they would turn yellow. She was always tiny, and put a little bit of weight on with age, but never had a weight problem that older, less active cats often experience. She never overate, always eating whenever she was hungry, and spent many a day sitting on the windowsill, watching the world go buy. We would always still dance to music together, and she would sit on my desk while I was writing, watching me put all of the thoughts and images that travelled through my head into words on paper. When my roommate adopted a dog (the lovely pitbull Doyle) they became fast (but secret) friends. I’m sure Luna was the only one to know Doyle’s past, his life before he came to live with us, and she knew that all he wanted was peace, as did she. I sometimes found them nearly curled up together on the couch, and they would touch noses in front of us on occasion. I’m glad she had a friend like Doyle in the last year of her life.

She never seemed to be unhappy, and I don’t think she suffered any illness or pain. One day I woke up and found that she had become an old lady practically overnight, the next day came home from work and she was gone, peacefully in her sleep. However heartbroken I still am, and still will be for a while, for the past 13 years I have had the sweetest, cutest, funniest and smartest little creature in my life, and I also know that I gave her a life that she probably wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t have adopted her. And nothing can take all of those memories away. I know that for a while I will still automatically check to see if her food and water bowls are full before I leave the house (and therefore leave the house with tears in my eyes), and also expect her to be at home waiting for me when I get in. Every morning I reach out for her when I wake up and then realize that she won’t be there or coming back. One day I will search for another cat to live with me, but for the time being I am going to learn to live without the little being who came everywhere with me.
However heartbreaking it is to lose a pet, the amount of love and joy they bring into a household makes it worth it all. 

The adventures of Luna… Two countries, two states, three apartments in NYC, two hurricanes, one near death experience (that I know of), many people friends, cat friends and dog friends. The little French cat who was raised in French, and to whom I spoke French to until she passed away. The little monster who peed on my roommates bed when she was pissed off (yes she wasn’t perfect) or who would leave me lovely fur balls as presents. The baby cat who continued to think I was her mother until her last day. I imagine that she is running around somewhere with Bella and all of the other pets that I have lost in my life, waiting for me to join her at some point in time.

1 comment:

Jamil P. said...

lovely cat and lovely story