“Cats leave paw prints in our hearts” -Anonymous
The little orange fellow who saw me through recovery from major surgery one year ago, my feline best friend, my constant domestic companion—Thomas Cromwell— left prints that will last as long as I have breath.
Being an adoptee myself, I have a soft spot for orphaned cats and dogs. The universe seems to abound with pets who’ve been abandoned or who have never had a home. Thomas was six years old when my friend Barb found him living in a bookstore, temporarily taken in by the kind-hearted owners. However, the bookstore folks did not intend to keep him. They were hoping for a “forever home.” The large, muscular orange tabby been living on the streets and needed veterinarian’s care.
When I first met him, this cat’s name was Eric. At our bookstore meeting, he pounced on my lap and began purring loudly, love at first purr. My former orange kitty Norman had died at age 12 a year earlier, and I’d been cat-less for far too long. “Yes,” I said, and went through the local Felines and Friends organization to adopt this orphan. After I took him home, he seemed very content, grateful in the way that foundling pets often are. At the time, I was deeply immersed in reading HIlary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. No longer would he be “Eric.” My new cat’s charm, craftiness and intelligence led me to name him “Thomas Cromwell,” after the protagonist of Mantel’s historical novel.
My former orange kitty, Norman, was a tough act to follow, but Thomas was a natural. He needed dental work and unblocking of his kidneys, all of which I took care of. We shared many companionable hours during the few years I had him. Nothing was more cosy than “Tommaso” on my lap during a winter’s evening. When I was recovering from aortic aneurism repair last June, he literally nursed me back to health. He loved visitors and befriended anyone who came to my house. Even people who didn’t like cats seemed to like Thomas.
Very suddenly, however, he quit eating, had to be coaxed to drink, and hardly moved at all. I called the vet’s office to say I was bringing him in on a standby basis. The vets had been out for three days for Memorial weekend. Tuesday morning arrived at last but my kitty didn’t make it through the night. At three in the morning I found Thomas Cromwell on the carpet, collapsed on his side and not breathing. It was three in the morning.
At the first light of day, as I wept, I wrapped Thomas in a small fleecy blanket, placed him in a box, and bury him in the back yard. He will be near the graves of others who’ve left paw prints in my heart.
May he rest in peace.