My cat, Smokey, is a little old man–19 years, to be exact. I’ve only known him for 6 of these years, but he’s been with my husband from the beginning. Now, according to the vet, Smokey’s age is catching up with him, and he’s suffering from a range of issues, including advanced kidney and thyroid diseases. Despite this, he continues to impress us with his energy and personality. He greets my daughter Scout each morning with a head nuzzle (she can’t say good morning or meow, so she tells him “woof woof”), and skulks around her high chair later, looking for handouts in the form of buttered toast bits, any kind of cheese, and garbanzo beans. He’s kind of a weird cat.
I wish Scout could have Smokey in her life longer. I suspect that she won’t know him long enough to even remember him, which makes me sad. She already loves animals and I know she’ll have pets that come and go. At some point we’ll have to explain to her how it all works. I don’t look forward to that, but I am glad to know there are books like Beanpole Books’ When You Have to Say Goodbye: Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet by Monica Mansfield that help kids understand the process of grieving for these family members. It’s an important book.
For now, we’re going to enjoy every single day that we have with Smokey, appreciating all of his little oddities (including his very loud meowing and galloping up and down the hall right at Scout’s naptime.) And someday we’ll have lots of stories to tell our little girl about her very first pet.