We knew this day was coming. And on Wednesday, it arrived. Our darling Mote was put to rest at last.
Mote came to live with me in late March 1997, when he was — best guess — not quite six weeks old. He and his littermates had been dumped by the side of the road near a friend’s house; I couldn’t take all of those babies, but I could take one, and this sweet-faced blue-eyed ginger tabby grabbed my heart.
Although he was weaned much too early due to being dumped, he didn’t lack for mothering from Jacquenetta, then three years old. She adopted him like he was her own, and did the best she could to make up for the lack of his real mother.
As a kitten, Mote had a fondness for ice cream. I remember once noshing on some creamy vanilla goodness, when a delicate little orange paw came questing along the edge of the bowl, followed shortly by an inquisitive orange nose.
He got to lick the spoon.
Mote’s eyes didn’t stay blue; they turned a startling golden amber in short order, and changed that sweet kitten face into something fierce and wild.
He was a difficult cat to love. Being weaned so early made him neurotic and skittish, despite being showered with love and affection nearly every moment. He could be sweet, so sweet, and would hop in my lap (or my husband’s when he joined the family in 2000) and demand to be petted. In a flash, though, those amber eyes would turn icy, and his sharp claws would strike, and he would launch himself across the room with a hiss and a growl because he was petted just one stroke too many. He had a habit of trying to nurse on a shirt or a dish towel, if I left one lying on the floor, kneading it and dragging it beneath him while he purred and suckled on a tiny corner. One gets comfort wherever one can, I suppose. I never begrudged him his lovey.
Another thing that contributed to his wild neuroses was getting his clock punched on countless occasions by the neighborhood feral cats. After the third or fourth time spouse and I paid a couple hundred dollars to the emergency after-hours vet to have an ear sewn or a bite inspected, we decided he was no longer allowed outside. He pouted and moped and yowled and whined, and eventually accepted his fate. He and Jacquenetta both became indoor cats — it wouldn’t have been fair to allow her outside and not allow him.
Once he became an indoor-only kitty, Mote mellowed out a little. Not quite so jumpy, not quite so skittish, but a sudden sneeze would forever send him scampering and seeking shelter. Still, when he settled, he settled. He loved his fleece bed, and he loved sleeping on (or under) the bed in the spare bedroom. He also loved to perch in high places, one of them being a highboy dresser in our bedroom. We eventually made him a special red throne pillow and put it on top of the dresser to provide him a soft place to sleep (and not-so-coincidentally, keep the finish from getting scratched).
Mote became quite the traveler, though no fault of his own. I work for the federal government, you see, and advancing in my career meant we pulled up stakes every few years and moved across the country. Mote went from Arkansas to California to Alabama to Georgia, and only meowed for the first three hours on the road for each day of driving. No, seriously, he was a good passenger. He was content in his crate; he didn’t try to escape the motel room when we stopped for the night, and he accepted the indignity of using the cardboard lid of a case of paper for a litter box while we were in transit.
Through it all, Mote returned time and again to snuggle with his life-long companion, Jacquenetta. When we lost her in late December 2014, he didn’t know what to do with himself. He prowled the house, searching and searching, and he cried, and came to me wanting comfort, then rejected the comfort as soon as I tried to provide it. And about this time last year, some six months after Jacquenetta died, he started his own decline with kidney failure.
Tuesday evening when I came home from work, I noticed three things: Mote hadn’t touched his food; he hadn’t used his box; and he couldn’t walk more than a few steps before he lost his balance and had to lie down. I suspected he’d had a seizure that day while we were at work. After a tearful discussion with spouse that evening, we decided it was time to let him go. I called my office first thing Wednesday morning and told them I wouldn’t be in. And Mote and I took his last car trip together to the vet, where I held him in my arms and cried while the doctor administered the medication that let him rest.
And now he’s snuggling with Miss Q again.
Goodbye, sweet Mote, prickly Mote, cantankerous and lovely and ferocious Mote. I’ll love you always and always and forever.