I grew up a "dog" girl. My family only ever had dogs. My first memory is of a childhood chihauhua, then a lovable mutt that we had to give away when we moved to the USA from England, then a daschund I adored, and finally the lovable, droopy, drooling half bloodhound/half basset hound that passed away when I was in college.
Then suddenly, three years into my collegiate career, a tiny little siamese kitty showed up on my boyfriend's doorstep one fall day. He was pressed against the brick near the door, probably seeking some warmth as it had just started getting chilly outside. We brought him in the apartment, fed him a piece of bologna, let him walk around a bit and then shooed him outside.
The following morning, there he was, huddled by the door, cold and waiting for us to realize that we belonged together. My boyfriend was a Rush fan, so we duly christened him Geddy, bought a litterbox and some food, and that was that.
Geddy used to love Cajun Spice Ruffles potato chips. He'd hear the bag crinkle and hop up on my boyfriend's lap, smacking the bag with his paw until he got a piece of a chip. He'd jump on our bed at night and paw at the covers until we let him in, where he'd scooch down until he slept on or near our feet. He used to love to watch the toilet flush, many times rushing into the bathroom and draping his paws over the bowl in anticipation before you even got a chance to sit down.
After college, my boyfriend became my husband, and Geddy moved across the country with us as we started the next phase of our lives. We got another cat to be his buddy (and occasional sparring partner) and eventually, when we had our first child, Geddy became her silent protector, sleeping at the foot of the bassinette when she napped in the living room, or outside her door at night, since I wouldn't let him sleep in her bedroom.
Shortly before Anna was born, he'd developed bladder stones and needed an operation. At sixteen, he didn't bounce back too quickly. By the time Anna was five months old, Geddy couldn't leave the ground floor because his joints were too arthritic. Soon he was losing control of his bowels everywhere, and a trip to the vet confirmed what we knew was probably looming: Geddy was dying.
We knew he was suffering, and made the decision to put him down on September 14, 2001. I remember telling someone later that thousands of people died that week, and while it was a terrible tragedy, it didn't bring me to my knees like the death of one furry, overweight cat. I still remember standing in the parking lot at the vet's office, holding my husband as he held Geddy's body and we cried. And cried. And cried.
Geddy is buried beneath the oak tree in the back yard, along with his furry playmate who followed him a few years later. I have other cats now, but my heart will always hold a special place for Geddy, the feline who turned me into a cat person.