Many, many years ago, Mr. Orange (or OJ for short) was rescued from the streets of New York. He was found in a light rainstorm, hiding behind the back wheel of a parked car on a nondescript side street. Faced with an unpredictable future scurrying under cars and noisy city buses or living a harsh existence as a deli cat catching mice and eating scraps of food from empty tin cans, he moved into my apartment for a few days. He needed a home. At first glance, you immediately noticed that he was an exceptionally scrawny cat, terribly malnourished and had deep gashes on his neck that needed to be medicated with some sort of sticky ointment. He had a wild look in his eye and was extremely skittish. But as the days went by, he found a name, he calmed down and he recuperated from his brief, harsh life on the street. In no time at all, he quickly became accustomed to having a home and being properly cared for. It was hard to let him go and he decided to stay. He ate enormous portions and he grew and grew and grew into a large, healthy and loving cat. A few days visit somehow turned into sixteen years and Mr. Orange had found a home. More importantly, I found a lifelong friend.
Living in a busy city like New York, it's often easy to forget the important role our furry friends play in our lives. But there they are, day after day, week after week and year after year. Every time you open the apartment door, they run to greet you or turn over from their napping place and give you a knowing glance, happy that you are home to give them some attention and affection. They gladly return the loving feelings and brush up against you or meow affectionately at the door. Our pets are a constant in our lives, an important part of the family, and a reminder of a quieter existence behind closed doors that is far from the hustle and bustle of the quick pace in this busy metropolis.
Mr. Orange was a very independent and super feisty cat. This attitude perhaps came from his early life on the streets or maybe it was just his natural strong-minded spirit. He never liked to be restrained or held for long periods and would always squirm free from any attempt to hold him down. That's not to say he wasn't friendly. In fact, it was quite the opposite with OJ. He would always come right over, no matter who you were, in order to know what was going on and see who you were. He loved to jump up next to you or climb on you, provided of course that you didn't try to prevent him from making a prompt and easy getaway. He was extremely curious, endlessly interested in whatever was going on and eager to prove that he was rightfully the center of attention. He liked to crawl in boxes and shopping bags and climb on the highest thing he could find in the apartment. He loved loud music and always jumped up on my desk whenever I played a song that he seemed to like. There are many, many wonderful memories of OJ that make me happy. He met all my friends, either in person, on the phone meowing in the background, in pictures or even via webcam. He was very much a multimedia cat and he excelled at using all types of technology.
It's only been a few short hours since he died this afternoon and already I am reminded of both his presence and his absence. His bowls are no longer in their place near the refrigerator. He is no longer here waiting for me in his favorite place on his soft cashmere blanket or running into the kitchen. When I came home tonight, I realized that the first thing I would always do when I entered the front door is to call him by one of his many nicknames and look for him to see what he was doing or where he was hanging out. It's very sad to realize that he will no longer be there for me. I'm very sad he's gone and I'll miss him a lot.