This post is dedicated to my sweet, "white kitty." For those of you who don't know, Andre adopted us. He frequented the cottage where Steve's family fed him. He kept coming back to visit and would lay immediately at anyone's feet who approached him. He was hungry for love and attention (as well as food; he was emaciated). He had some cuts and sores on him that showed he wasn't exactly "fit" for outdoor life. I took an immediate liking to him, and he took an immediate liking to Steve. After about a week of begging, I convinced Steve that we were ready for a cat in our lives. And, so, in the fall of 2005, we brought him home. The first night was hilarious - neither of us knew just what to do with a cat. We weren't sure he was litter box trained, so we tried to "block him" in the basement with a table on its side (laughable). He stayed down there until we went to bed. But, when we woke up the next morning, there was Andre, perched on the guest room bed as if he'd found his new home for life. In a sense, that's how his life continued. By the end of that day, he'd convinced us he was house trained and could be trusted. It was also one of the last nights he slept anywhere but at my feet (or a year later, snuggled up by my chest).
Andre was unusually affectionate for a cat. He HATED it when we left him. He'd simply stop eating and drinking in his protest at being left alone. So, we had cat sitters come anytime we were gone for more than 24 hours to play with him and make certain he'd eat. Andre would spend hours snuggling at my feet as I did school work, graded papers, read a book or just plain sat on the couch. He'd snuggle up and "spoon" if I was laying down, purring incessantly. At anytime I asked for it, by simply clicking my tongue, he'd run over and give me "kisses" (nuzzles) on my nose. In fact, each morning for 3 years as I got out of the shower, he would be waiting, on the ledge of the tub, to greet me, with loud purrs and two morning "kisses."
It's that same image that Andre left me with today. Just before they gave him the shot to sedate him, he lay in my arms (still clenching and unclenching in pain) PURRING LOUDLY! Before I sat him down, he reached up and kissed my face, twice. The nurse and the vet saw it and burst into their own set of tears as I just continued sobbing. He really was the sweetest, ever loving thing ... right up until the end.
As a way of remembering the best parts of my beloved pet, I thought I'd give my top 10 memories of Andre Van Dyk:
10. Hearing him roar and SQUEAL with delight whenever we arrived home from an overnight vacation ... he'd purr for at least the first hour we were home, simply delighted to have his family back.
9. Watching him choose the foot of our daughter's bed as a favorite resting place, as soon as he realized she loved him too.
8. Having him sit at my feet while I graded hundreds of papers, for hours on end, simply purring and sighing, and being completely content
7. Seeing him crawl up into my brother's lap and park it despite the fact that my brother swore he hated kitties
6. Having him rub up against me, begging for scraps of chicken, tuna, or cheese and hearing his excited reaction each time I left him a few in his dish.
5. Opening the windows each spring to let him feel the breeze, sniff the air and get his fix of "outside" life.
4. Brushing him to unbelievably loud purrs and squeals of delight (and many more kisses)
3. Watching him melt Steve's resolve to "not enjoy" having a kitty.
2. Getting "Head butted" at all hours of the day and night, whenever 'Dre felt like he wasn't getting enough attention. It was his "attention getting mechanism."
1. Learning that Andre possessed a "secret" talent for determining pregnancy. We didn't know his cues the first time around, but Andre was the first person in this house to know that Benjamin was on his way. In fact, Andre's the reason I took a pregnancy test so early.
I know Andre had a great 5 years with us (he took us from newly weds into parents of two little kids ... and he stuck with us through all of the sleepless nights ... he got up each time I did!!) and that we will miss him so much. I have to believe that he would be happy to be free of pain, as much as he would miss us. I'm thankful for the great time we did have while he was here. I couldn't have dreamed up a better pet. We love you Andre!