I’m the woman always wearing a sprinkling of cat hair. Sometimes I take the lint roller to my clothes, but usually I don’t even notice the hair.
I miss not finding Malcolm, our cat, lying on a pile of my not-yet-folded laundry. Yes, it used to irritate me a little, but he looked so adorable as he slept, shedding his lovely orange hair on my clean clothes. He could be in the middle of a nap somewhere, hear the dryer door open, and be on my bed in a flash, ready to settle onto warm towels and clothing. A dark load of black pants and shirts. Perfect! If he got there too late, even a cold sock or two would do as a foundation for a nice snooze.
Just this year, he couldn’t make the jump. He fell back onto the floor with an undignified thump. He mewls pitifully now that he can’t get to his favorite napping spot, so I place him on the bed. I set the dark clothes aside, of course.
We brought Malcolm home sixteen years ago from Wayside Waifs, an animal haven. My daughter chose Malcolm, because he was slightly fluffier than his sister, Sophie. We should have taken her, too.
We knew nothing about cats, except that they seemed to be easier to take care of than dogs. He came with worms, fleas and ear mites, but we managed to quickly get rid of all of the pests and felt proud of ourselves.
Young Malcolm was like a rocket in our house, flying and leaping. We couldn’t keep him from the counters. He knocked plants over. We learned about hair balls. We discovered that cats can eat too much and then vomit. Sometimes, if he was upset, he decided not to use his cat box. We wondered what we’d signed up for. It’s hard to remember that now when we see him waddling slowly around the house, a paragon of almost perfect cat behavior. We have two younger cats, who remind us of how Malcolm used to be.
No one appreciates Christmas morning more than Malcolm, who rustles in the torn paper and bats and chases the ribbons. Malcolm has always liked to be held — or at least tolerated it very well — but he is much sweeter now. He used to bolt at the sound of the doorbell and disappear when we had guests. Some people didn’t even know we had a cat. (Unless they were allergic….) Now he seeks out anyone who visits and endures the tough love of children.
I could easily be one of those dotty old women who talks to cats, because Malcolm does talk back. He likes to sleep next to me, but that’s only been in the last two years. Sad that he came to this so late, because now it’s a rare night he can leap onto the bed. He lies on the floor next to the bed, crying to be lifted to his spot. Then he snores.
Last year, he lost a lot of weight. It scared me. Even the veterinarian was alarmed. But after a change in food, he was quickly back to his plump self again. I hug him tighter now. He’s only a cat, but I can’t bear to think of losing him.