02 August 2007
My Cat Dulce
Twenty years ago, a pretty calico cat came into my yard. She was very shy, but with “sweet talk” she came over close enough for me to pet her a bit. Within the next few weeks, she showed up at my door and window meowing loudly and shaking her beautiful fluffy tail. I noticed that the people who had lived in the house where I had seen her had moved out, and poor thing was coming to the person in the neighborhood who had shown her affection. I put a bowl of food out on the porch and sat a few feet away so as not to scare her. She ate a bit, then ran over to me to get affection. She was starved for both, so I moved over and gave her both at once. For the past twenty years, we replay the beginning of our relationship when I feed her.
Dulce was never very trusting or fond of people, especially men. It took my ex-significant other, Bob, years of sweet talk before she would let him near her. For the most part, I was the only person she wanted, and at times she didn't even want me. She has long been a loner cat. It took my husband even more years to get Dulce to trust him than it did Bob. These days she will let him pick her up, which was something no one could do in the years past. When people were visiting or working on our house, she hid. In fact hiding became a fine art for Dulce.
For years I could never figure out where she went every time the cat carrier came out, until one day I captured a glimpse of her jumping into one of the drawers under my water bed. I looked in the drawer, and there was no Dulce. She managed to squeeze between the drawer's edges and the empty space under the water bed where she was untouchable. Now these drawers stay closed. That doesn't mean that there are times when I absolutely can not find her, but she isn't hiding under the water bed anymore.
If there was an IQ test for cats, Dulce would easily be considered a genius of cats. She could figure out how to open cabinet doors so she could hide inside. I would open a kitchen cabinet that was about face level and find my sweet girl inside. When my husband and I married, I had three cats, Dulce being the oldest of the group, and my husband had two. I always kept my cats inside, but inside the house didn't seem a large enough space for five cats. Most of my back yard is surrounded by buildings, except for one side with a wooden fence, and a gate on the other side between the house and garage. We put wire fencing as high as the house above the fence.
All the cats were safe in the back yard, and we left the door open in the back building to give them even more space. Dulce figured out how to get out in less than a week. And she left just enough Dulce fuzz to make sure we'd know that we weren't going to fence her in. Jim would alter the fencing. Shortly after, there was new Dulce fuzz. Jim gave up trying to keep her inside, and Dulce lost interest in getting out.
By the way, Dulce means sweet, often sweet to the taste, in Spanish. I named her Dulce because she was from the first moment we met, the sweetest being I'd ever known. I know she must have an old soul, because she has that “knowing nature.” There have been many mornings when I've woken with feelings of love and happiness, and I've found she has wrapped her body around my head on my pillow. She has gotten me up for work when I didn't correctly set the alarm clock. She has been such a bright spot in my life for the past couple of decades.
It has been over twenty years since Dulce claimed my home and myself as her own. My 2007 summer has been the summer of Dulce. I have been her dutiful servant and friend. Up until recently, she still climbed to the highest bookshelf. Now she has been spending a lot of time rolled up in a ball in my lap or under my computer desk. She is so frail and thin. I wasn't sure she would make it through the entire summer, but she has. She is deaf and almost blind. It has been difficult for her, but she now lets Jim and I help her more than it is her nature as an independent kitty.
I won't be able to talk about her after she dies. I can still barely talk about my dear Tesuque, even a year after he has passed on. I want to praise her now while she is with me. This summer has truly been the summer of Dulce. I have found that because I take care of her, even washing her, cleaning up after her and mincing her food to point where she can easily eat it, I love her more than ever. One day I couldn't find her, and I felt the rush of pain over her lose that I believed I was prepared for, but in reality am not. I've lost so many loved ones in my life, I believe I'm always prepared for it. I've become very philosophical about it, but in my life the only beings that have been constant were my cats. No human has lived with me for twenty years.