Last night I found a note from Elissa in my letter box. The envelope was linen parchment paper, embossed with an E and an image of a pink flamingo on the back. It was addressed To My Beloved Mother. A photo of Elissa fell from the envelope onto my desk. She was posed in front of the ocean, her black head tilted to one side, white paws folded under her chin and elbows resting on a beach ball. Ears were perked, eyes were pleading. Violets meandered nilly-willy around the border of the envelope and matched the note inside. The note was folded, but before I opened it, I needed to gather my thoughts. To my recollection, Elissa was buried under the weeping willow tree in our side yard. How daunting to receive a letter from a dead pet after so many years gone. I paused to consider this, and then began to read.
Do you know I’ve thought of you always as mother? From the day you brought me home form Sarah’s, you loved me. Sarah tried, but she had no idea how to raise a cat and I went for days licking up bits of water she’d drip on the kitchen floor before she remembered to fill my bowl. But you, dear mom, you cared. Except for you, not one of my families understood my needs. Thus, this letter.
I’m still alive. I know you think I’m fertilizing the grass under the Willow Tree, but the fact is you were only my Eighth Life. You’d have been my ninth if you hadn’t found me in Sarah’s closet when she passed. I certainly would have extinguished from lack of nourishment. But, find me you did, and cared for me wonderfully until your husband (I will not and never will call that man my dad) was too tired to empty my litter box...and after all those times you nagged him. His neglect had me ending Life Eight inhaling toxic waste fumes. You never knew how much I loved you. You see, cats have pride and to let you know would have wounded mine. Other cats would have bullied me if I hadn’t kept the rules by ignoring you except when I wanted something. Every cat’s life is “all about me” and rightly so. But emotion is not void, just kept inside. Yet, I do need you now and don’t want to deceive you about the times I’ve moaned myself to sleep missing you.
For my Ninth Life I’ve retired to Palm Beach. I was going to send you a post card. “Wish You were Here and all that, but decided the little pink flamingo would be nicer. Letters are more my style. This is my Last Life, so I’ve been inspired to write a list of what should be taken into consideration when caring for felines. We do have needs that shouldn’t be ignored. I’m on my own here in Florida…straying for a change. I can afford it after years of stuffing my retirement fund. I thought you might be the only one who would help me get my list published. My suggestion is to try the magazine Cat Fancy as it’s widely read. Here is my list of Feline Essentials:
1.Our own spot: We don’t enjoy being thrown in bed with small children. We are quiet. They are noisy. They cuddle us inside their pillow-case. Instead, consider this trendy new product, the Kitty High-Rise. Included is bedding, a lined litter box with ventilation (extremely important, as I can vouch) and a nail-salon with scratching post. It features four walls and a door for cats to get in and to keep children out. Extra storage is provided for kitty accessories.
2.Scratching post: If the Kitty High–Rise is too expensive (shame on you because we felines are well worth it) you must purchase a scratching post. However, don’t expect us to stop clawing the furniture if you place the post where we can’t find it. Hint: Place it on top of the kitchen counter, table or your keyboard when using your computer. Spray with catnip.
3.Panasonic Pet Scam: Sadly, cats are abused by nannies and babysitters, too. Place one in every room of your house. (Your local Target carries them. $10. Off coupon in March issue of Cat Fancy)
4.UrineOff and UrineFinder: Absolutely necessary to prevent urinary tract infections. I had many flare-ups of this nasty thing in my Second Life… brought on by puddles. Finally my family surrendered me to a shelter that had too many cats. Had they used this product, an untimely entrance into my Third Life would have been prevented.
5.The Pet Rescue Sign: Why are there signs to rescue children in cars and bedrooms, but none for pets? This neat-o promotional offer comes with two window decals with glow-in-the-dark pet images and a full on yard sign attached with balloons for Pet alert.
Hmmm, I guess that about does it. I trust that you, dear mum, will take care of this so I might finish out my final life knowing….I have helped some cat, someway, somehow. Yours, Elissa
I closed the letter, dried my eyes and took a walk to the side yard. Sure enough, the grass was dry and brown under the Willow Tree. I tried to imagine a sun-tanned Elissa, eating a tuna salad in a diner in Florida, paying the Seniors Early Bird discount.
- Cat Fancy is a magazine for cat lovers. It has a column written by a Veteranian called Elissa’a Essentials. I was leafing through the magazine one day and got my title from the column.