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JANICE WELLS: Life with Connor

Connor is ready to come in.
Connor is ready to come in. - Janice Wells

I shared my life with Connor Cat for 19 years, which made him 92. Up until the past few months it was easy to forget that he was well past his prime.

His mother died when he was about a week old and Daughter # 1 fed him and his siblings with a little twist of cloth dipped in milk. They were technically her kittens and she found homes for the rest of them before she swanned off to Ireland leaving me with a grand-cat.

And a grand cat he was.

He’s been gone less than 24 hours and, of course, I miss him.

People who refer to cats as stand-offish never met Connor.

He was a cuddler from Day 1.

He grew up on Sudbury Street as an outdoor cat. He lived in Halifax, Fleming Street and Morison Place, knew instinctively to avoid roads, and his only experience with vets was when he got his shots and neutering as a kitten and now, as an old fella when a very kind veterinarian, Dr. Danielle Dunn-MacLean at the Avalon Animal Hospital on Logy Bay Road, helped him go peacefully away.

His affectionate nature seemed like it might be a problem when Newman moved in.

Newman was unaccustomed to having a cat want to hang out with him or settle down in his lap or curl up with him in bed.

What could I do? Connor was there first and Newman gracefully pretended not to mind.

A few years later Daughter #1 moved back to St. John’s. In fairness, and gratitude to Newman, I said we could give Connor back to her.

A look of horror came over his face as he sputtered “you can’t give Connor away!”

Newman was totally exposed as a Connor lover even though he continued to pretend he didn’t like him. He talked to him gruffly, calling him His Lordship or the little f….r.

Newman was at his wittiest with Connor. A Cuban tour guide once told us that Cubans ate cats. Newman got a great kick out of suggesting we send Connor to Cuba for Christmas, describing him going up the plane steps with his little suitcase. Ha ha.

That was a bit ironic because Newman’s wit increases with a drop or two of lubrication and if he sent Connor to Cuba, he’d have no one to blame for drinking his rum.

Connor liked getting his own back.

On Fleming Street he would stand by the kitchen door to be let out. Newman would let him out and a while later Connor would reappear and want to go out again. I finally had to confess that I always left the third story window open a bit so Connor could come and go as he pleased. Which he usually did, except when Newman was settled down in front of the TV. Ha ha.

When I was around he would tap on the kitchen window when he wanted to come in.

If he had one fault it was that he hated the car.

I made the mistake of not getting him used to a carrier. When he was younger he would settle down on my neck. That doesn’t sound like a very safe way to drive but he remained perfectly still. That he traded in the neck sitting for howling was a mixed blessing.

We took him to Eastport once. He howled all the way.

Once we got there he loved it, stalking field mice in the long grass.

When it was time to go home we kept him in the house while we packed everything up and loaded the car. Then I held him tightly, put him in the car, and he streaked out a window that we didn’t realize was open.

Newman tried to catch him. Ha.

I knew chasing him was pointless; he’d come back when he was ready. Which he did. Four hours later. And howled all the way back.

He didn’t make a sound yesterday when we took him to the vet.

The only sounds were me crying and whispering to him and assuring him he was going to come back as a lynx.

It was time.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca.  

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JANICE WELLS: Forgetting to remember

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