This week, we had to say goodbye to our beloved cat, Harley. She lived a good life, and she was part of our family for more than 17 years. She was my first cat, and to me she is everything that is lovely about cats. She was strong, independent, opinionated, loving, and loyal.
We found Harley in 2003 through a feline rescue service. She was about 8 months old, and had just been spayed when we met her, yet she climbed onto my husband’s lap and fell right asleep. Her name was Shadow at the time, which neither of us liked. We were sitting in bed with her that first night, and her purrs were so loud they reminded us of our downstairs neighbors’ motorcycles. So Harley it was.
Cats like to attach themselves to one person, and Harley was very much my husband’s cat. But she always let me know she loved me, whether it was sitting with me in front of the fire or leaping to comfort me when I cried at a sad movie.
In 2006 we decided she needed company, so we adopted a younger cat, Samwise. Harley tolerated Sammy like an annoyed older sister, but she let him eat her food and lick her ears. I don’t know what they talked about, but I think they were good company for each other.
Harley loved sitting in a patch of sun, burrowing her face into shoes, and curling up in a basket. She would wait for us near the front door when we came home, and outside our bedroom door each morning. She was friendly when our friends came over, and although she could be prickly when she was younger, she became a marshmallow as she got older.
I know that pet owners everywhere have to make the decision of when to euthanize a beloved companion. It’s what we sign up for. I know letting her go was the right thing to do, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve done. I know she’s at rest now. But I miss her so much.
She left her mark in so many ways, and she won’t be forgotten. Farewell, Harley-cat.