When I first moved out on my own, I got two kittens, from a friend's barn. I called them Rascal and Stasia. They were rambunctious, but I could tell something was wrong with Stasia's health. I took them to the vet, and they were diagnosed with feline leukemia. I was, naturally, devastated. I had to have them put down. Now, I know that Rascal could have kept living with proper medication and lifestyle choices, but I didn't know that then- Stasia was blind and had serious symptoms, Rascal was minor.
My parents were trying to be helpful, because my dad loves animals too. He found someone at the Air Force base where he worked who was moving to California. They had two cats, George and Colin, named after the movers and shakers of the first Persian Gulf war, only George was the long-haired black one, and Colin was short-haired grey and white. I didn't want anything to do with having an animal. I moved to an apartment that would not let me have pets. Da had already committed to them, and took them into his home. Da rather enjoyed sitting on his easy chair in an evening with Colin tucked on one side and George on the other. Then I started volunteering at the Humane Society. I met a wonderful man and his three cats, Spider, Sassy, and Rags. Eventually, I couldn't resist, and we all co-habitated. We brought home Kenya and Beauford, a couple of dogs.
That's about when Mom started complaining about cats. Allergies. And Litterboxes. And Dad being away from home on work trips so she had to take care of them. And the trips to camp (involving long car ride and long boat ride, and both cats *hated* it). So she took the cats to a humane society and dumped them. I, I was informed later, had enough animals already and did not need them too. But that humane society called *our* humane society, and immediately I went over and rescued them. So they came to live with us and our zoo. Over the years, old age took Rags and Beauford. George died probably from a heart attack- it was very sudden and unexpected, and he was only 7 or so.
But I need to talk about the quilt. You see, my favorite thing is napping with cats. They don't sleep in our bedroom, only the dog is allowed there. So we have extra blankets in the living room just for the purpose of snuggling. While Jazz has a couple that he has declared special for him, and I have knitted afghans for the back of the couches, I didn't really have a blanket for me. I decided to make a flannel rag quilt- I found rubber duckys, and froggies on blue and purple, and a purple and green plaid, and any other flannel that sortakindamaybe matched, and played with the fabric. As always Pepe had to supervise, and Colin comes and lays on any fabric laid out on the kitchen floor. He liked to lay on one corner to weigh it down for me. When it was finished, I had my own blanket, and the cats liked to sleep with it, even if I wasn't under it.
I can't tell you how many naps I had with my blanket where Colin would come and lay on my chest, putting one forepaw on each of my shoulders, and then just rest his face against mine, and purr me to sleep. This is always the most restful sleep I ever have. Even if a whisker is slightly tickling me- oh I just ignore that. Because if I moved too much, he got up and slept next to me instead, and somehow, that just wasn't as nice as being hugged and purred at.
When Colin got sick, I did bundle him up in the blanket and just hold him that way for hours so he could sleep better. When he went to the hospital for his last few days in intensive care, that quilt went with him. Sure, I have other blankets the cats can sleep on, including at least one more flannel. But they weren't the ones that smelled like "momma." When we brought him home, I washed and dried it, so it wouldn't smell like "hospital" and bundled him up it again. And those were probably the only moments when he wasn't crying or laying in his litter box. So today, we took him back to the vet for a very short visit. And he's still bundled in that quilt, and now lying in our back yard, instead of my lap.
I can always make another quilt. And it will always have cats on it (regardless of in the pattern or no!). But I know I won't have another cat like Colin.
Thank you all for your good thoughts. I deeply appreciate them.