Op/Ed

Clippings: ‘King among cats’ was truly loved

BART IN HIS favorite place: snuggled up close.
Independent photo/Megan James

This one’s gonna hurt.

Our beloved cat, Bart, was hit by a car last week. He didn’t make it.

Bart was the world’s greatest cat and the narrative center of my children’s lives. He appeared in hundreds of their drawings and doodles. They wrote books about him (Bart the Brave, Parts One and Two), photographed him from every angle, and sang about him. At school they regaled anyone who would listen about his adventures — the time he snuck out the window onto our roof, the time he climbed the Christmas tree, the time he brought home a snake that turned out to be still alive.

Everyone who knows my kids knows Bart. He was loving and loyal, cuddly and mischievous. Exceedingly handsome and surprisingly silky. A king among cats. 

Breaking the news to our children after school last week was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a parent yet. 

“I wish we had a time machine,” my 9-year-old daughter said through sobs, “so we could go back to this morning and keep the door shut.”

The suddenness of his death, the violence of it, haunts me, too. I feel guilty for letting him outside, though I know I’m not to blame. He was a willful cat, and we loved him. We wanted to give him the life he wanted. “It’s nobody’s fault,” I told the girls. “He had such a good life. Sometimes bad things just happen.”

My younger daughter watched me weeping and then ducked into another room to write me a note in green highlighter pen: “Please don’t cry cause I love you and you love me,” it said.

My husband, Daniel, cried, too. “This is so sad,” he said to me, over and over that first day, surprised at how empty our house instantly felt, how much he felt for this small, loving creature who had lived with us.

We thought we’d get more time with him.

Daniel dug a hole in the backyard, and we carried out Bart’s body, which looked almost normal, like he was just napping. All four of us buried him together, tossing a handful of buttercups onto his fur, and singing a song that, years ago, could lull the girls to sleep.

I miss him more than I knew it was possible to miss an animal.

But we’ll recover, of course.

Yesterday, our neighbor’s cat, Oliver, appeared at the glass door to my home office. I used to watch him and Bart play from my desk. (I am not making this up: Bart had honest-to-god neighborhood cat friends.)

When I opened the door to say hi, Oliver rubbed against my legs and then lolled his big, soft body down on the grass, demanding a tummy rub. It was as if he knew. He must know. He’d never let me pet him before.

Obviously, I obliged.

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