A Tribute to Lucky

Writing can be healing. Here’s a little tribute I wrote for our beloved cat, Lucky, who crossed the bridge yesterday:

Every cat has a story. Seventeen years ago, in the middle of a typical Vegas summer, my wife Tamera-Tammy Seeker Rouff stopped at a red light at Maryland and Flamingo when she noticed a woman motioning wildly from the sidewalk. Tammy rolled down the window and the woman yelled, “There’s a cat under your car!” Knowing my wife, I’m sure she mumbled a few choice words. But also knowing my wife, she got out, laid flat on the sizzling pavement (in her work clothes, no less) and retrieved a tiny black and white ball of fluff from the exact geographical center of the car, the vehicles behind her honking all the while.

When she called me at my office to relay the story, she asked if I could make some phone calls to friends and family to see about finding a home for the new acquisition. But as so often happens in these situations, I struck out. After a few hours I called to tell her the bad news.

Me: “I couldn’t find a home for the kitty.”
Her: “You mean Lucky?”
Me: “You named the cat?”

And that’s how we became cat people, with three more joining the ranks over time, the word obviously out on the feline underground railway that we were the softest of touches.

Lucky turned out to be a fine representative of her species, with all of the positive attributes (cuddling but not overdoing it, drinking water from the faucet, even playing fetch with an indoor Frisbee when she was younger) and none of the annoying ones cats are famous for. While her sister cats engaged in all kinds of rough and tumble nonsense, she’d sit Buddha-like on a perch above the fray, surveying the scene in a dignified manner. She had an extensive vocabulary, some of which I came to understand, such as the questioning meow at meal time that meant, “What took you so long?”

A few months ago, it became clear that Lucky was losing weight and sleeping more than usual. A trip to the vet confirmed the beginnings of kidney disease, common in older cats. Meds, special food and other procedures seemed to do the trick and she made a quick comeback. But in mid-December, the whole cycle started again, this time worse. Yesterday’s vet visit was nothing but bad news. Lucky’s crucial blood numbers had taken a precipitous turn and she was now in official kidney failure. Heroic measures would buy her weeks, if that. And so it came time to make the decision all pet owners can sadly relate to. Lucky crossed the bridge last evening around 6:30, passing even before the final drop of fluid entered her body. Knowing we did the right thing doesn’t make it easier.

I have no idea why Lucky picked our family. We were an unlikely choice. But she changed us in many ways, all of them good. Call me weird, but I always thought she was grateful. But in reality, we were the lucky ones.