Remembering Patches - Nov 2011
Patches convinced us we needed a shop cat almost 16 years ago. She was probably 1 or 2 years old when she arrived. Two weeks ago we had to make the decision that her quality of life was really pretty awful. As I sat in the veterinarian's treatment room with Patches in my lap, and tears spilling over, I was gently assured that we were making the right decision.
Patches invited herself into our space the fall of the year we opened...1997. We spent the first month chasing her out, finding her hiding places and putting her gently out for the night. We finally gave up, bought a litter box, food, had her de-clawed and spayed--the agreement we made with her if she was going to stay. And she settled in to show us we had made a good decision. I have often said that she instinctively knew what she had to do and who she had to be in order for her to stay in the shop.
I think you either love cats, or avoid them. I also know if you don't like cats, they will follow you, sit near you and whine at you trying to convince you that you are wrong about them. The fascinating thing about Patches is that she often was successful. There were husbands that came under her spell...often declaring that if they could be guaranteed a cat like she was, they would have a cat at their house. You and I know there are no guarantees when it comes to the feline population. Each one of them has a personality. We were lucky....and so was Patches.
Patches arrived at our door quite small--and stayed small all of her life. No one imagined she was as old as she was. When she was tearing around the shop in her earlier years it was easy to understand. In these later years, she seemed even smaller. She never weighed more than 7 pounds.
She spent many of her early years playing in the rafters, sitting in the warmth of the spotlights, watching the activity below. Then she would come down to meet and greet customers when she felt like it. As she aged, she hobbled more---probably from jumping off the rafters one time too many. She depended more on finding warm places to sleep at table height, or lower.
The Patches era is over. We will not replace her. That is not possible. We will remember her fondly, and live with special memories shared by so many. The animals in our lives are such great friends.
It is said that a dog has a master. Cats have a staff. Which ever you might have...you know what I mean.
I have a cat, Zoey at my house. She snuggles a little closer, lately. I miss Patches when I come to the shop, and she does not meet me at the door "complaining" that she has been alone all weekend. I don't have to check on where she might be hiding. I don't have to worry when she does not appear until mid afternoon. I know where she is. I have a vivid memory of a scene from a Disney movie whose main character was a cat named Thomasina. At the end of all of her lives, as a very old cat she leaped effortlessly up the stairs to heaven. And I understand wherever that is, it is a great place for cats.