Nick is my friend Judith’s cat. He used to be called Evil Nick, and I’m not sure why, but some time ago Judith informed me that I was no longer to address him as Evil Nick–henceforth, he would just be Nick. I think what happened was that Nick got too old to be evil anymore.
Nick is now, I believe, 19 years old, and very few cats live to be that age. He has terrible arthritis in his hips. A couple of visits ago, I tried to pet him–you know, the usual thing, running my hand from the top of his head down his back and he cried out. I jerked my hand up like he was on fire. Mostly because when a cat cries out like that, it means you are about to lose part of your hand. But Judith said no, it was just that I probably hurt him.
Oh no! Looking back, I think it was more like that Nick was afraid that I was going to hurt him, and he was warning me. I’m very gentle with animals, and I hate it when people roughhouse with them. There are, sad to say, people who believe that you have to be rough with them to make them tough. Hello. I have a Doberman. He doesn’t need my help to be tough. He needs my help to be nice.
Last night I visited my friend Judith and the Former Evil Nick. He now pretty much has his own chair, and sleeps on a heating pad, but Judith decided she wanted his chair and he needed to move to another chair. Grrr, he said.
It used to be that I would visit and one of the prime directives was that Evil Nick could not be allowed to go outside. Now, he is allowed. He doesn’t wander far, I guess. So last night during my visit, I was allowed to let him out. Something like two hours later when I was ready to leave, he still hadn’t returned.
It had gotten colder, and I stepped outside and called to him. Not that he would come back to me or my voice, but I was hoping. I was so afraid that he would get somewhere, with his arthritis, and not be able to get up. That he would want to come home but not be able to do it. And I had to let go of it. I’ve been there myself. I’ve already made the choice between freedom and protection for cats.
But hey, Nick, if you’re listening…please come home. We have food waiting for you, and a nice warm chair with a heating pad in it with your name on it.