A Tribute to Becky

Every cat has a story.

Becky was the Marley of cats. She wolfed down her food, drank out of the toilet, knocked over the trash, begged at the table and, although she was an inside pet, tried to slip outdoors every chance she got. But she also met me at the door each day after work, tried to lick my face, and followed me around like a puppy. With her black and tan coloring, aqua blue eyes, and swath of harlequin paint splashed across her nose, she was a beguiling creature, an imp in feline form.

Becky came into our lives more than 15 years ago when our grandson, Aaron, found her and her kitty siblings under a bush, starving and near death. Our daughter, Amanda, scooped them up and nursed them back to health, bottle feeding the small brood every two hours for weeks, often at the expense of her own sleep and sanity. Eventually, she found homes for all except the runt, who three-year-old Aaron christened “Becky.” To this day, we have no idea why. And neither does he. Maybe he thought she looked like an elderly Jewish woman.

My wife and I already owned two cats. (Actually, they owned us.) Not wanting to upset the delicate household balance, I refused to take the little one. Until one Sunday, when Amanda stopped by and plopped the tiny furball on my chest while I lounged in my recliner, watching football. Knowing she had mere moments to win me over, Becky immediately cuddled into my neck and rubbed against my beard. And that was that.

Recently, Becky began losing weight, as old cats tend to do. But her energy level remained high, as did her appetite, so I wasn’t too alarmed. Then, a couple days ago, this ravenous dog in cat’s clothing sniffed at her food and wandered away. That’s when I knew it was time for a visit to the vet, which revealed a raging urinary tract infection. After a shot of broad-spectrum antibiotics and subcutaneous hydration, the vet, a gentle and caring woman, cleared her to return home.

Later that evening, Becky sat on my lap while we watched TV, weak but purring. I went to bed relieved, knowing the diagnosis could have been much worse, like the kidney disease that took Lucky a year ago this month.

But vets and pet parents don’t know everything. Somewhere in the night, Becky’s little heart gave out. I found her in the morning cold and immobile, but also at peace.

To paraphrase Owen Wilson at the end of “Marley and Me,” Becky was a great cat who loved us every day. As our two remaining cats search the house for their lost friend, throwing accusing looks my way, I know this is going to take us a while to get over.