This was one of the toughest weeks of my life.
Even now, the words don’t come easy.
Our precious Molly, the cat that walked up Deb’s driveway one day 10 years ago, met her maker a week ago.
Molly was Deb’s cat — my stepcat — and the three of us ruled together.
She loved the old house and quickly became a part of the culture at Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson. In fact, Molly was the JWC general manager.
When we made the move to the new World Headquarters, Molly had trouble adjusting. Not just that, she stopped eating and lost weight. She was miserable and we felt terrible.
A visit to the vet a week ago Thursday confirmed our worst fears. We came home without our kitty, our lives shattered.
What is it about pets that change our lives? Why do we humans fall so crazy with four-legged critters? I guess it's the innocence, that unconditional love.
I’ve had pets since I was very young. I’ll never forget one of my sister Peggy’s friends delivering a Beagle puppy to our front door and rang the doorbell. We kept the dog and named it Tiger; however, he actually became my mom’s best friend. Mom called him “Dumb Dog.”
While living in the Inverness Highlands I had a dog named Cocoa who enjoyed playing Frisbee with me in the backyard. His death was also hard.
I’ve always been a dog guy, but tried my first attempt at cat ownership about 15 years ago. Friendly was a shelter rescue, a black-and-white indoor/outdoor cat. Friendly would wander off into the orange grove and I wouldn’t see her for a day or two. Then she’d come home, looking like she’d survived a two-day bender, and sleep for 36 hours.
She followed me everywhere and answered my call with a meow. Often at night, I’d be out walking in Wallace Brooks Park while Friendly played on the shuffleboard courts. We would walk back up the driveway together.
When Deb and I decided to marry, I knew we had an issue. Friendly had her run of the place for five years. Now comes another cat. How would that work out?
Not well. Friendly wandered off one day and never came home. For several days I went to our favorite places — the grove and the park — calling her name with no answer. That was several years ago, and I still called her name every so often in the grove, straining to hear a kitty reply that isn’t coming.
And now Molly. It is empty and sad in our house. Lot of tears.
People say the best thing is to go out and adopt another critter, but I’m not sure that’s where we are. I don’t know.
It’s not my intention for a Friday cryfest about my cat. I have a small point to make.
I don’t understand why people are opposed to a new animal shelter. I get the whole cost thing, but that’s separate from having a facility to properly care for animals who are, frankly, discarded.
Dogs and cats especially, who bring comfort and calm to humans, should be well cared for. If we want our own critters to be happy, healthy and safe, why wouldn’t we want the same for dogs and cats in kennels at the shelter?
We should be encouraging more responsible pet ownership, and a new animal shelter will do that.
Molly wasn’t a rescue in the traditional sense, but who knows what would have happened had Deb not taken her in. After that first hour, they were inseparable.
Man, we love our critters. And they love us. Their loss leaves a hollow ache that eases with time but never really disappears.
I said it last week:
Hug your fur baby today. You’ll both appreciate it.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.