As any pet owner knows, the hardest part of sharing your life with animals is that they do not live as long as we do. When our daily companion of many years dies, it creates an empty space in our lives that seems like it can never be filled. I have known families which have mourned the loss of a pet for years
In families with only one pet, the loss can be catastrophic. When there are other pets sharing our lives, these other pets seem to respond to the loss by becoming more affectionate with us and with each other. The loss of one member of the group makes all of recognize the value of our remaining companions.
We lost two of our cats in the last few months due to advancing age. Buffy, our Siamese cross, was 17 years old and Gray Kitty was 14 years old. They shared our adventures and our daily routines for many happy years. They had become part of the fabric of our lives and their passing left us with many moments of loss as we listened for the friendly chirp or purr that would not be heard again except in memory.
We live lives of considerable complexity and we do not always appreciate how skillfully our pets accommodate themselves to our daily routines until they are no longer there to greet us in the early hours of the morning or to jump up in our laps during our hours at the computer.
Life is a series of comings and goings and having more than one pet if you can manage it is like having a bigger family. There is more life to share and more excitement and the pleasure can outweigh the challenges if you can keep your sense of humor.
In an industrialized and mobile society, life can dwindle down to a sterile sort of existence in a series of prefab boxes. One can work in a cubicle and then come home to a larger cubicle. The addition of pets and plants and friends into our lives surrounds us with life and keeps our attention directed outwardly.
We have attempted to keep our lives open to new experiences and as a result, we live in a household where cats and plants keep us alive and in touch with life and we have friends who do the same. If we happen to run across a dog who can fit into the mix, we will probably add her to the household too.
Our latest addition to the family is Milo, a Birman-Siamese cross. He is younger and larger than any of the other cats, but fortunately he is mild-mannered and has learned to fit in.
Chester, our rowdy black shorthair, is a former farm cat who adopted me at a neighbor's party last year. He is smaller than the others but heavier and more muscular and is definitely the top cat in the family.