I just woke up from the weirdest dream about my old cat, Koda. And while the details of the dream are quickly fading, I am really sad because I miss my damn cat.
Granted, it’s been six years. But I still feel so guilty.
Koda was born 7-8-99 (an easy date to remember, right?) in my parents’ living room. I had taken in his mother, a stray, who we felt bad for because it looked like something horrible had happened to her tail. We didn’t know she was pregnant. She was very sweet.
When we DID figure out she was pregnant, we still kept her. I made her a birthing box, hoping she would use it and not have babies under my bed or something.
On that fateful day, C came over (we weren’t even dating yet, but were less than 2 months from “officially” dating. I don’t know what you would have called us at that point). The first kitten came out and, honestly, it was surprising. I didn’t know that the mother would eat the, whaddya call it, sac? Well she did. The second kitten took a long time because it was backwards and was stillborn. It was depressing. We thought she was all done but then a third kitten came, also backwards and taking a long time. We pulled him out slowly and got the sac off of his head. He wasn’t breathing, so I blew lightly into his nose and kind of rubbed his chest. A few seconds passed, and he started breathing. This is the kitten I kept. Also, he was a manx, proving that his mother did NOT lose her tail in some horrific accident. I named him Koda, which meant in some African language (I used a baby-name site, what of it?) “last-born” and “the mother’s pet.” I also thought it was funny that Coda in Italian meant “tail.”
I can still honestly say that this cat was the coolest ever. We said that he was a cross between a dog (he fetched), a gazelle (when he ran, his butt kind of bounced from side to side), a bird (he didn’t meow—he chirped), and a cat. My friend T used to claim that one day he would molt and become a whole new animal. This was accompanied by a noise that kind of went MEOW! SPLAT!
Not quite 3 years later, C and I were living in a condo. During spring finals, we received an eviction notice. This was bad enough—we each moved home to our parents’ houses. Worse, we were being evicted because the owners wanted to give their friend a place to live for 2 months while he built a house. Worst of all, there was nowhere, and I mean nowhere, for Koda to go.
I called every shelter in a 70 mile radius. I put up flyers. I begged friends. Only the pound would take him, and the guy said that with the overcrowding they would likely only give him a day or two before killing him.
I sat there, sobbing, and tried to come up with a plan. I couldn’t think of a single thing to do. He couldn’t go to my parents’ house. Nothing, nothing, nothing worked. And I did the one thing I still feel bad for—I put my cat to sleep. C was just as upset as I was, but I never knew it. She was strong and brave and buried him in my parents’ back yard. I didn’t know for months how upset she had been, because she was so worried about taking care of me on that day.
I still feel like an asshole and it’s been 6 years. For almost 2 months I cried every night, sometimes whispering “I’m sorry” over and over again.
This may seem like overreacting. But it was the first cat that was really mine. And he was mine in a way that nothing else had been. It was also horrifying to realize that my actions helped him live, and that my actions caused him to die.
The weird thing? When I got my current cat, Maya, from the shelter 18 months ago, I think I picked her because she had similar coloring to Koda. And she’s just as weird and very sweet. But what I did, what C and I did together the day we put Koda to sleep—it haunts the both of us, I think.
When we had owned Maya for a few months, I came home from work and C was upset. “What’s up?” I asked. “I called her Koda,” she said, and hung her head down.
When we were moving this last time, we found pictures from back then, many of Koda. We still can’t look at them.
Yes, all this drama over a cat. But still, the coolest cat I have ever met. I miss him terribly.