Paddy the cat

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter J. Daly

December 7, 2009


††††††††††† Paddy, my cat, died.

††††††††††† I am so sad. I will miss him a lot.

††††††††††† He had been my motherís cat for 16 years. He came to live with me only four years ago when he got busted by Momís condo association. She was on the way to the veterinarian with Paddy in a carrying case. She had to wait in the building lobby for the taxi. Somebody in the condo association complained to management that she was not allowed to have a pet in the building. So Paddy came to live with me.

††††††††††† At first I didnít really want him, but we grew to be pals.

††††††††††† He was an orange tabby, the friendly kind. We called him Paddy because his red hair made him look like an Irishman. Paddy is short for Patrick.

††††††††††† Paddy was 20 years old when he died. A long life for a cat.

††††††††††† He was completely deaf. It was a little dangerous, because I could surprise him easily, which he didnít like. I worried about him not hearing cars.

††††††††††† In recent years arthritis had set in. Even though cats are still remarkably nimble he had trouble with some things. He couldnít jump up or down the way he used to.

††††††††††† At night he would sit by my bed and meow until I leaned over and lifted him up to the bed. Then he would come up and snuggle next to me to get warm.

††††††††††† In the morning he would climb down via a night stand and the radiator to the floor and then go sit on the bathroom scale and wait for me to lift him up to the toilet, so he could get a drink of water. I would go into the bathroom, flush the toilet so he could get cold water, and then lift him to the seat. He would get a drink by bracing his paws on the toilet seat and leaning way down. It was a comical pose.

††††††††††† Paddy missed me when I was gone.

††††††††††† If I went away for a few days, my secretary, Mrs. Lewnes, would feed him faithfully. He ate better for her than for me.

††††††††††† But when I came home, he would feel the vibration of the door closing. Immediately came hobbling out from wherever he was resting. He stood in the hallway and howled a loud meow of protest at my absence. I had to pick him up to make him be quiet.

††††††††††† Sometime he liked to go out. He couldnít hunt birds or mice anymore, but he liked to look. He sat on the porch for hours just looking at birds and think about his glory days as a hunter.

††††††††††† Paddy seemed to care about my presence. Wherever I went in the house, he followed me. He was constantly underfoot. He had a basket beside my computer. He slept in it while I worked at the desk.

††††††††††† At night, if I watched TV, he would sit on my lap or chest. About 11 PM he decided it was time for sleep so he would pat my face with his paw or rub his head on my hand. He seemed to have an internal clock. He was always up at 6 AM, meowing for food or water.

††††††††††† His death was a freakish accident. I was not home at the time.

††††††††††† He got tangled up on the telephone cord in the kitchen. The cord was long, so I could work at the kitchen table with the phone. Somehow, he got the cord around his mid section. Evidently in his panic he spun round and round, while the cord just got tighter and tighter. Iím sure he screamed loud, but I wasnít there to hear him. I guess the cord cut off his blood flow. I found him on the floor, tangled in the wire.

††††††††††† I buried him in the front yard. A sad little funeral. Just me and my secretary. Before I put him in the ground I sat and held him for a minute He was a furry, cuddly little thing. My soft cat.

††††††††††† I know pets donít have the value or dignity of a human soul. But I will miss him more than I miss some people. His love was unconditional. His slow decline in old age reminded me of my own aging.

††††††††††† Celibate priests donít have the intimacy of a person. That makes a pet all the more significant.

††††††††††† Poor Paddy, he deserved a better death. His life gave me so much pleasure. I will miss him something awful.