Twelve

Our cat Scout in 2010 watching me while resting her head on the top of her cat bed

Scout would have turned twelve today.

This was my view these past twelve years as I edited nearly every image you’ve seen here, Scout in her heated bed, sitting right in front of me. Usually she’d be curled up in the bed but sometimes she’d watch me as I worked. She was a tiny little thing so if she was laying down she had to stick her head up to reach the top. It didn’t look too comfortable but it always made me laugh.

Oh Scout, you were the best, and I miss you so.

Peace

A close-up view of the head and shoulders of a coyote

My favorite coyote picture, taken over a year ago in January of 2012.

Coyotes have a complicated and controversial relationship with our modern world, and I’m not sure how this pack will fare now that subdivisions have replaced the meadows on the hills above the refuge. I see them near the road sometimes as I drive into town before sunrise, but I see them as roadkill too. And there will be conflicts with barbed-wire fences and dogs and cats.

But on this morning, as it hunted for voles with its mate, and as a few snowflakes began to fall, all was peaceful. Only the three of us were around, and since I stayed quiet in my car, they let me watch at my leisure as they worked the length of the dike.

A peaceful morning for me, if not for the voles.

Sam & Emma

A close-up view of the fur of our cats Sam and Emma as they snuggled

A shot from last fall of Sam and Emma.

The two are friendly but don’t often cuddle up like this, which is unfortunate since in the six weeks since Scout passed away, the ever-snuggly Sam has been on constant lookout to replace her affections. A lot of the time the two spent together they spent with me, so it’s not so much that he’s spending more time with me but rather that he wants to be up close rather than out on my legs, a favorite Sam spot since he was a wee kitten.

I don’t know if we’ll ever adopt another kitten in the hopes that the two will become close friends, just as he and Scout did five years ago, but in the meantime we’ve tried some commercially available Scout substitutes, such as

  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Scout
  • Skout
  • Kiss Me I’m Scouttish

but so far none have worked.

For such a tiny little cat, she left a big hole to fill.

A Slow Recovery

Our cat Sam sleeping on a blanket draped over my legs in February 2010

Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been almost five weeks since Scout passed away. Her loss has been particularly hard on little Sam but he’s been making a slow recovery and is now nearly back to normal, or perhaps has reached the new normal. Sam loves snuggling on my legs (shown here a few years ago), to the point that if life were a cartoon I’d have permanent Sam-shaped divots on my legs. But after Scout died he’d only sit in my lap tucked up tight against my chest, as though he was huddling against the cold. After a couple of weeks he relaxed a bit and while still in my lap moved a few inches away, and then a few inches more, but he still stays so close that I can’t really work on my laptop.

I don’t know if he’ll return to sleeping on my legs or if I’ll have to adapt to his new position on my lap. Sometimes he’ll walk down to where he used to sleep but he’ll turn around and come back, so perhaps it’s just going to take a bit more time. He did go all the way down to my feet the other day, but not unaided. Our dog Ellie was snuggling up next to me as well and suddenly sat up and began licking him in the face. He put up with the indignity for a little while but when it was clear she wasn’t going to stop, he moved down to my feet until the coast was clear when she fell back asleep, and then he came back.

His purr has finally returned. It didn’t completely disappear after Scout died, but it got very quiet and hard to come by and didn’t last long. Just in the past few days he’s purred loud and long when we climb into bed at night, so he is definitely recovering.

So too am I.

Scout was my near and constant companion so when I’m at home even now her absence is clearly felt. After getting past that initial wall of grief in the days after she died, a shadow of sadness lurks and at unpredictable times I feel her loss most acutely. But that is at it should be, she was one of the best parts of my life.

With Sam snuggling too close for me to do much typing on my laptop, I’ve been catching up on a lot of old classic movies and British mysteries, usually with Sam on my lap, Ellie tucked up beside me on my right, with our other cat Emma a few feet to my left in her heated bed. Scout’s heated bed lies empty, and that in and of itself is surprising. Sam loved sleeping in her bed and I assumed after she died he’d take it over as his. But right after she died he’d only occasionally get in, then for a few weeks actively avoided it. Now he’s back to occasionally sleeping in it, but mostly it lies empty.

He has been sleeping in Ellie’s beds quite a bit, but that’s not unusual, he’s always done that. Emma has started doing it too, and I had to laugh the other day when both of Ellie’s beds near my office were full of cats and Ellie was scrunched up over on the floor beside them.

What a blessing they are, these little ones.