friends, pets, photography, writing

Mr. Miles – Eulogy for a Cat

Swing with Miles

November 28th, 2001 – October 29th, 2004

Miles, my beloved cat, was struck and killed by a car on a warm Friday evening. He was a snow-spotted Bengal, a mix of an Asian Leopard and domestic short-haired Egyptian Mau. Miles was an incredibly soft, most beautiful and unusual cat who insisted on going outside – there was no keeping him in . . . or lots of howling would ensue. He was most happy frolicking through the woods and returning home to sleep next to my belly, nap on my desk as i worked in the day time, and generally, bring me great joy and laughter with his wonderful personality and affection. He always came when I called him; he even said his own name. “Miles!” i would call, high-pitched so it sounded like “mile” and he would call back “reee-err ” in a tone that sounded precisely the way i did. He kept calling all the way up as he trotted closer to home.

Miles was named for a character (Miles Naismith Vorkosigan) a character from science-fiction writer, Lois McMaster Bujold. Like the character, my Miles was smallish but hyperactive and brilliant. A funny, feisty, handsome little hellraiser.

Miles was my 2002 New Year’s Day Present to myself. i made a lot of money the night before and it was going towards this new little friend i desperately needed, as i lived mostly alone and missed my other cat, Pixel. I had picked Miles out from a litter of all females who were gold-spotted before he was old enough to be separated from his mother. Miles was the only white kitten in the litter and he seemed shy at first, a little skittish and ghostly. When i brought him home with me on the 20th of January, he hid under the bed for a few days and eventually came around. Once he did, he had a magnificent personality, became very social and very sweet.

Miles traveled extremely well. He was a fantastic co-pilot, sleeping in my lap when we went for car rides or on the passenger seat when he became too large for my lap. People would smile and wave at him when he looked out the window and drive-thru service was always entertained by the calm cat in the seat where a person should be.

When *OmarcyMe and i lived together, her cat Azul and Miles were fast friends. They played together, ate together, slept together and grew very close. Once i took Miles to see Brooks and Pixel for the week and Azul was so distraught and angry he peed all over my mattress. As soon as Miles returned – the urination problem stopped. Miles went through his heat cycle before he got fixed while we lived there and you wouldn’t believe the racket such a small cat could make. He was always incredibly vocal.

Miles always made the funniest noises as a kitten. He had a terrific vocabulary and you often knew what he was doing or what he wanted when he said things. He would eat his food and be so pleased he would talk with his mouth full. Rowr rowr rowr! Mew mew rowr! Once i picked him up when he was eating and he made this growling sound and so I whispered “growl growl growl” in his ear. From then on when anyone picked him up and asked him to growl or if he was actually content, he would make that noise. He meant nothing mean by it at all. Once i accidentally stepped on him, and instead of hissing or yelping, he made this little spitting, explosive sound that sounded part stunted meow, part like someone throwing a water balloon against the wall. SPRAK! Sprak, (pronounced ‘rack’ with an ‘sp’) became the word for Miles’ irritation. As in: “Where’s Miles?” “Oh – he’s out in the living room spraking around.”

Miles was a very tactile kitty and we had many names for all the games we played. He liked to be held like a baby and have the top of his head scratched in such a way that my fingers were like a little rake against his head. We called it “brain tickle.” We played a game where i’d point at him and he’d come up and rub his nose against my finger. This was called “noser noser noser.” When he’d rub against me i’d call him Mr. Nice and say “mmmmmmm.” * OmarcyMe taught him to crawl under the covers and get warm and snuggle in. Miles still nudged me in the morning, even after *OmarcyMe and i no longer lived together. i would lift the blankets up like a tent, tell him to “get into the cave” and he would crawl in and turn around, becoming a “purr-monster.”

Miles went by a few names of endearment: Mile, Mr. Miles, Tiny, Tiny Stench, Mr. Stink, Baby Kitty, Kittyhead, and he answered to all of them. i am deeply saddened that i will not be able to call out any of those names and have my dear cat answer.

When Brooks and i settled in for the night, Pixel always lay at his feet and Miles at mine. i will miss that little bit of habit and synchronicity, as i will miss seeing Miles’ little head show up late at night meowing silently at me from the outside of our front door glass, waiting to be let in. i will miss my little study buddy perched atop my office desk at home on a little grey blanket, covered in shimmery white fur; a place i had to create, moving two printers apart so he had somewhere to sleep and be near me. This was called “the spot,” and when Miles sat directly in front of the monitor, i would tell him, “get in your spot, Miles,” and he would jump up and lay down there, his tail hanging over the side sometimes. He would crawl up the wooden staircase to our loft and sit on the door ledge just over my closet, nearest to my side of the bed, looking over me as i fell asleep or was just waking up, high up surveying the area and me looking at his little silhouette. i will miss that small, pale silhouette.

i am thankful that Brooks’ brother, Jesse found Miles. He was just up the road from our mailbox, looking like he was heading to run out into the field to play. It would break my heart to NOT know where my cat was; hurt, stolen, suffering, lost, never to be recovered and having to bear that uncertain pain every day. Miles didn’t even look scathed: nothing broken, nothing inside turned outside, just his mouth, a little blood. Smaller, colder, heavier somehow. He must’ve been dashed, almost missed, hit his head and suffered little, which i can also be grateful for.

i spent some time holding Miles, smelling the top of his sweet head, stroking his small, golden nose and pink ears before i chose a place for him. Miles was gently wrapped in silver velveteen, shimmering and soft as he was, and as a final labor of love, we dug a large deep place for him near the house where i can look over the deck and see where he is. i chose a medium size triangular stone – heart-shaped, like his face as a grave marker.

The loss of a pet is so immediate and sharp. i wanted Miles to grow old and silly and crotchety with me some, but it seems our time was deemed so very short, cut off really, nearly three years. Was that time purposeful? Was this some horrible accident that could’ve been avoided? Could i have kept him in and not let him slide out the door past me with my arms full, stop and collect him, put him back inside? Would he have missed that passing car? Would time and fate have allowed him to come home again? This is where we are now in the awful, hurtful, surreal, unfair real, and i cannot torture myself with the what-ifs and could’ve beens and all the alternate endings. He was taken from me by some terrible, stupid accident that i could not have foreseen or prevented. At first i thought the world has something to punish me with, what have i done, what lesson am i supposed to be learning? But i know the world doesn’t quite work that way. i was just as blindsided by his death as i’m certain he was.

Miles followed me, trusted me, loved me, and i would’ve done anything to protect, love and endear myself to that darling animal. He was adored and cared for, more than some other creatures who get destroyed will ever know and i must take those thoughts to my heart as solace. This kind of loss serves to remind us all how important it is to love all the people and creatures close to us. To keep your anger, fear and argument to a minimum so that you can appreciate the joy that is brought by caring for some small thing unconditionally who returns your love in its own measure.

i have been wrecked for days now. My eyes swollen, my body tense and aching. Sleeping in excess and eating in small amounts. Writing this has made me think on things that were/are beautiful about coming to know such a unique creature. i feel the absolute need to reflect, to acknowledge all those memories and to share them in pictures and words so i can remember Miles in the best way i know how. As family, as companion, and as best friend.

i appreciate those of you who take the time to read this, who have pets that are dear to you, who know and understand through my photos how very deeply i feel for all things small and sentient and who take these reflections to your own place and remember above all – it is vitally important to love and be loved in return, at all costs.

For even as i am cleaved open, with this deep wound, i become ready to receive and to love again.

rainy day blues

Goodbye, Mr. Miles