|Ave et vale, Rico
||[Feb. 20th, 2012|08:23 pm]
Six years and fifty weeks ago, tomorrow, I went to the South Shore in Massachusetts to meet a cat who had been saved from his second period in a shelter, one which would have killed him if no one would take him. The woman who adopted him from the first shelter, not a cat person, had turned him back saying he was a "vicious cat."
The shelter records indicate that she made this assertion because she had been cooking chicken (a food he is extraordinarily fond of) and he had been monitoring her every movement from just behind her. She stepped back unexpectedly and landed on him. He got out from under her foot, and reminded her that he was there as many cats will do, by pressing his mouth against her ankle. He didn't break skin or cause any pain, but now he had that "vicious" label.
As a result, he spent six months in a cage, and for that time no one was allowed to even touch him. By the time National Abyssinian Rescue found out about him and got him released to a temporary home, they were concerned as to how well the cat would handle being with people again. Because of the special care we'd given to our first Aby, they asked if we'd at least take a look at this little boy, and decide whether we thought we could help him.
So it was that I arrived at a stranger's home, not sure what to expect. Once inside I saw a cat in the next room, and sat down on the floor. Rico raced over to stand on my lap and touch noses with me. Every bit of body language I knew how to read from him said "Hi! I really LIKE you!"
I spoke with the woman who was fostering him, and called home to describe my perceptions with Editrx. A little later, I returned to New Hampshire with an eager little cat in a carrier on the passenger seat. At our house he had room to run as he never had before, and as construction was finished on the expansion of the house it was Rico who invented the game of jumping from the loft into the kitchen/living room space below it.
He has explored all the sunny windows, enjoyed all the warm spots during cold weather, and been the greeting cat for the house, an often difficult post to maintain given how many of our cats have outgoing, human-oriented personalities. I don't think any visitor to the house has ever failed to remember him. From break of day to late at night, Rico would come by to see what you were doing, and to say "Hi!" again.
After almost seven years of "Hello!" he doesn't want, or know how, to say good-bye.
Tomorrow, with the sun high in the sky, we will say "good-bye" to him, and for him, because it is the last loving thing we can do for him.
Hi, Rico. I love you, too.