Long ago, I was given a gift that I didn’t want. A gift, in fact, that I declared as unwanted as possible. After having spent much of my childhood with a variety of pets, having another cat was just as unthinkable as asking me to win at a dancing contest. (fyi, I don’t dance)
As it turns out, my dear friend was off getting a cute light brown cat of her own from a couple moving away when she saw a dark fuzzy head peek around the corner and she gasped, telling the nice lady with several pets to give away that she just saw “Alex’s cat”.
Despite the warnings of how shy the cat was around others, my dear friend brought me the shy kitty whom I refused to allow near me, declaring that our friendship was over. Despite my protests, I was still left with the cat and went out of my way to ignore it or push it aside whenever it got too close to me. After a couple of days, I noticed the cat was no longer coming around and I grumbled as I began looking for it. I knew it couldn’t get far since I lived on a second floor condo and all the doors and windows were closed.
When a knock came at the door, I was surprised to find my downstairs neighbor asking if I owned a cat. It turns out my cat found a small hole by the bathroom sink and crawled in. I suppose the hole didn’t have a landing which is why my wayward cat fell down the wall to the first floor – where she lay trapped between the walls of my downstairs neighbor. Upon my admission, they asked if I would be willing to pay for half the repair cost to tear a hole in their wall to get the cat out. I agreed, thinking how much trouble this cat had become.
Unfortunately, the opening led to a gap no one could reach and all attempts at coaxing out the kitty failed… until I reached into the hole and called out for the cat to come out. My friend had told me she looked like Gizmo from the gremlin movie and I remembered what it was called, deciding at once to call the cat Mugwai.
Mugwai came to me as I called and was rescued that day, after which I felt so guilty for having driven her off that I kept her in my arms or allowed her on my desk, hands, keyboard… more often than not. Mugwai was from that day on, my cat. The year was 1999 and I had just moved down to sunny Calilfornia, wondering what all the hubbub was with the good weather and beaches.
I discovered that having a cat was much like having a friend who not only showed affection, (A purr is unmistakable) but also could have fun at any time and for no reason whatsoever. I’m sure she saw something I didn’t when sitting quietly at my side one second, then bolting down the hall the next to wrestle with some unseen playmate.
I learned much from my cat and understood after a few short years that she may not have been a pet I wanted, but turned out to be the one I needed. I took pictures of her as if she were a professional model and when I fell asleep she would climb up on my chest and call it a night. Her purring would make the night pass in peace and the long days after work became much better.
Work was always long and friends, few and far between.
I moved many times over the years, finding new jobs, new places to live and dealt with new struggles as they came.
This last year, I moved somewhere I could not bring my beloved little Mugwai to and I left her with my dear friend. With this new year, I found a new place to live and looked forward to having my fuzzy friend back. Alas, the fates had other plans. Mugwai was lost to me after sixteen years of companionship this last week.
She was a dear old friend and I got to hold her one last time before the end. She will be missed and my heart aches for that soft purr that helped me get through the difficult days and long nights. I wish I could have had her for much longer and I wish I could have found a way to save her from the end that comes for us all. Most of all, I wish she could know how much she meant to me. Especially how clear it was after all these years, that it was she, who rescued me, that long ago day… through a hole in the wall.
Goodbye, my little Mugwai. You will be missed.
Mugwai Zarate 1999-2015