Halfway between Greyson’s and Violet’s births, and 1 year after the passing of our beloved pup Taz, we decided to adopt a cat. At first we tried adding an energetic calico kitten to our home, but he was a jittery, agitated little guy and after a few days of cohabitation we worried he would scratch our 1-year-old. So after finding him a more suitable home and doing some more careful research, we were introduced to a middle-aged cat named Dominic.
Dom was a sleek, handsome, stub-tailed fellow. He was in his second stint at the rescue shelter after being returned by his original owner for nebulous reasons. Dom was about 10 years old and had been stuck at the shelter for more than 6 months, likely unable to find a home due to his age. (Everyone wants a kitten! A fact we ourselves could recently attest to.) This despite the noteworthy fact that he was clearly a personal favorite of many who worked at the shelter. Several of them said they wished they could have taken him home themselves. Dom was eminently lovable, and we eminently fell in love with him.
People who think all cats are cold and aloof have never had the pleasure of meeting a cat like Dom. He was relentlessly affectionate, rubbing himself against our legs often. His affection rarely had to do with needing food, since his bowl was usually full. He simply craved contact. Because we have had a sleep-averse baby under 2 years old (first Greyson and then Violet) for the duration of our time with Dom, we established the boundary of not letting our feline son sleep with us in our bedroom. But boy oh boy, Dom sure wished he could join us. The lonely nights would get to him, and I would often hear him scratching longingly at our wooden bedroom door by 5:00 in the morning.
I wish I could hear that scritchy, scratchy, sleep-shattering sound once again.
Dom was the perfect cat for our family. He was unendingly patient with Greyson and Violet, putting up with their gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) poking and prodding. He didn’t mind their happy play-noise, although he did seem to express agitation — or was it empathy? — when one of them would cry loudly about some bump, bruise, diaper rash, or other indignity. His eyes would get big and he would meowingly look up at us, as if to ensure that we were aware that his brother or sister needed assistance.
Violet in particular got the biggest kick out of Dom. She smiled and pointed or giggled almost every time she saw him come in the room. She never quite got the knack for petting him properly, at the right spot or in the right direction. But Dom didn’t seem to mind. He was cut out for life as a family cat.
Once we would get the kids to sleep each night, which has never been a small task, Dom was thrilled to snuggle up next to me on the couch while I watched Netflix. He never slept quite as soundly as he did when his head was nestled against my leg. I always felt a little guilty when my episode would end and I’d gently lift his groggy head off my leg so I could head upstairs to bed.
Every night he stared daggers at me as I walked up the stairs to my cozy bed, as if to say: “Why does the baby get to sleep up there with you, but not me?”
In the end, when Dommy’s body was breaking down, we eradicated that boundary and welcomed him into our bedroom at night.
It was the least we could do for our sweet, stub-tailed, slowly disappearing son.