My aging cat

5 04 2011


Her name is Ula, for the red-brown color of her fur. She adopted us, sitting outside the door for several days. When no one answered the ad for “Found: big, brown bossy cat,” we surrendered to letting this beautiful creature move in. She’s old now.

I realized that yesterday morning when I made this portrait. I stopped a split-second-in-time and saw in another way the familiar soul I’ve lived with for at least 15 years. It’s an image of an aging cat.

Ula is the queen of the household, and she has both good (DH) and reluctant (me) staff. She rules with a loud, irritating New York meow that means one of four things: “feed me,” “let me in,” “let me out,” or “pet me.”

She can bang on the screen door as though to break it down. She delights in lying between the dog, who is smaller and arrived after her, and the dog’s way out to pee. It pains me to let her have her way, but I do because otherwise she’d continue to nag or, worse, scratch or nip me.

She is so crotchety, her vet once said, “Why don’t you take her to someone she likes?” On the last visit, we all agreed that she doesn’t have to make the trip to the vet any more.

But though old, Ula’s still got it. For hours last week she stalked a dove, who mistakenly flew into the studio, and nailed it. Feathers everywhere.

DH prefers to think of Ula as ageless and not aging. I ask, “Is she complaining because she is in pain?” because lately she’s barfed more than the normal hairball barf. He replied, “Ula always complains.”

When I reviewed the photo, I thought, “Ula, you grew old before my eyes, and I hardly noticed until now.” It gave me pause.

How we love to chronicle a child’s growth and development. Yet how easy it is to miss the physical changes of life’s winter, especially of those closest to us, unless we make a conscious effort to truly look and “see” them enough to extend some kindness.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

For more on Ula, click on the word “cat” in Favorite Topics (see the right-hand sidebar). Then scroll down to see previous posts about my cat.

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