Living Out Loud: : Just a Cat Named Dorey

Remembering a friend

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He was just a cat named Dorey my kids and I picked up at an animal shelter in Springfield, Ohio on Feb. 5, 1994. My two children were visiting me for the weekend; my wife and I recently separated.

There wasn't really anything special about him, just an American Short Hair with a very long tail. He was friendly, and he was old. So old, in fact, that nobody wanted him. He didn't even have a cage at the shelter. When a worker told me they were going to put him to sleep the next day, I didn't have any choice but to take him in, because I didn't want him to die.

So he came to live with me. I was lonely in Springfield and was having a hard time adjusting to my new single life. He would give me a reason to come home instead of staying out all night drinking in bars.

Dorey was a lap cat and always wanted attention.

He was affectionate to the extreme. I remember one night in Springfield, I picked up a girl in a bar and took her back to my place. We were in bed, all naked and and really getting it on, when suddenly Dorey hopped onto the bed purring and rubbed his head against the girl's right breast. She started sneezing.

"You didn't tell me you had a cat," she said.

"You didn't ask," I replied.

"I'm allergic. Get him the fuck out of here!"

Not liking the tone in her voice or her attitude toward my cat, I got rid of her instead. She took the bus home.

That spring, I decided to move back to Cincinnati to be closer to my kids. Dorey came with me, crying the whole time in the car. He adjusted well after we got to our new place. In fact, in the four moves after that, he never had a problem as long as I was in sight and his food bowl was present.

He could be irritating as hell. I think his stomach had a clock in it, and an alarm would go off when it came to mealtimes. There was no peace and no sleeping late on the weekends, because he would be in my face until I got up to feed him.

Sometimes when I walked down the hallway in my apartment, he would get right in front of me walking fast ­ then suddenly stop with me almost tripping. He would then run like hell, almost like he did it on purpose.

Guests would come over and lay their coats on a chair and he would immediately climb up and lay on the coats, spreading his cat hair, which was forever shedding. Finally, when I would have "dates" over, I would just lock him in a room. But that created another irritation, because he'd cry until I let him out.

He had his faults, but he became my good friend. He was with me when my divorce became final and I felt depressed. He was my comfort after my twin brother died in the fall of 1994. When I discovered I was diabetic in 1997 and couldn't walk for a period of time because of foot problems, he was always with me either in my bed or on my lap in my wheelchair.

When I would go away on trips, Dorey often wouldn't eat and would sleep his days away until my return. He loved it when my children came over to visit, and he watched them grow up with me. My friends were his friends, and we all thought he'd live forever. He didn't.

Dorey died a few Saturday mornings ago. He was 27 years old and had been in failing health for the last few months.

During his final days as I was helping him as best I could get to his food bowl and trying to make him comfortable, I would talk to him and stroke him and pat his head more than I usually did. I thanked him for being in my life and for making it better. I told him I loved him. I think he knew, but I wanted him to be sure.

Now when I walk down the hallway at home, I find myself looking for him and feel sad. Now that I can sleep late on the weekends, I find myself getting up early anyway. As I try to finish this column, I find my eyes watered with tears.

He was just a cat named Dorey, but I loved him. I wish he were still here.

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