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“The Cat’s in the Cradle”

September 2, 2014

Today, our cat, Baloo, was put to sleep after suffering from the effects of kidney disease for the past several months. He had stopped eating altogether this past couple of weeks and weighed just 6 pounds (half of his normal body weight) when he died.

Baloo was our first family pet. (He is survived by our dog, Maisie) and the first pet for our daughters Kathleen and Maryanne. He was also the first cat or dog that I ever had. (I didn’t have either when growing up in New York city.). We all had a special bond with him. So I suppose even though he was “only” a pet, I shouldn’t be surprised how sad I feel today.

Baloo was born in 2001, and was found left behind in a box with several other kittens on a baseball field. We adopted him from the Capital Area Humane Society Shelter that summer. However, it was quite a surprise for me when I came home from work that evening, assuming that Anne and my daughters had been to the shelter to adopt a “dog”. But as Anne described, none of the dogs were “really right” and when they went to visit the kittens, Baloo just crawled into her lap. So there inside a box was our new pet– a handsome tiger cat named Baloo. As it turned out, it was fitting that we had adopted Baloo while intending to adopt a dog, because he truly had a dog’s personality in a cat’s body.

As a kitten, Baloo patiently endured my two, then grade-school daughters, putting him in their Barbie car and ‘driving’ him around. As he matured, he became a fixture in their pretend plays and musicals (along with the Barbie dolls and stuffed animal characters) and even appeared on home video in the pretend reality series “Fright Factor” in which he played the fearsome tiger that was locked in the same room as Maryanne. Mostly, Baloo was just plain social. He would crawl into all of our laps anytime of the day or night. He would quickly warm up to guests and before they would even realize it, he would find his way onto their laps as well. Baloo was my lone male companion (albeit a neutered one) in a household of three females (plus a female dog) and no other males. He would often keep me company while I watched Yankee baseball games on TV. I even think he enjoyed the games (though only when the Yankees were winning!) . And when I did my daily stretching exercises lying on my stomach, Baloo could never resist either sitting right on top of my back or sniffing my head and then pawing at my hair – his way of being affectionate.

Baloo was a cat that could do tricks. We bought him a whole bunch of cat-toy balls (made from soft, malleable, NERF-like material that were golf-ball sized) and he would love to chase after these when we bounced them down the hallway.  Then, he would pick one up in this teeth and carry it back often proudly meowing/ announcing his catch, before depositing it at our feet. He would also leap up high in the air and bat the balls with his paws when we bounced them for him. Sometimes, I remember thinking “we should call David Letterman to have Baloo come on his show”. Baloo also collected and hid these same balls under the couch, the standup piano, our bed to name just a few of his favorite hiding places.  And, when the girls did their homework on laptops while lying on the floor, Baloo sat perched next to them, staring at the computer screen. It seemed as though he was taking  in every word!

Baloo was not allowed outside (for his own health and safety), so he would often sit on the other side of the sliding screen door to our back deck watching us and wanting to be part of the action while we ate dinner on summer evenings. He would sometimes escape outside even if we left the screen door open for just a second which then required us to coax him back inside thru a combination of bribes with cat treats.

Baloo was a one-of-a-kind cat. I am convinced he loved his family in almost the same way that we loved him. I’m sad that he is gone now, but really glad that he was part of our family for more than 13 years. Rest in peace, Baloo!

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3 Comments
  1. Ed Kaufman permalink

    These creatures really do become part of our families; indeed, part of us, Bruce. The sadness dissipates only slowly, and over years. It helps remembering their innate humor and the joy they brought us. Best.

  2. Thanks Ed. I realized it would be a slow process when I got home from work today , opened the door off the garage and there was no Baloo waiting for me. Sigh.

  3. Sally Frost permalink

    A very touching send-off, Bruce. Love, Mom

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