We got some sad news today from our tenant. He said that our calico cat, Upoko, died during the night. He said that she wasn’t showing any signs of sickness beforehand and that she died peacefully, curled up like she was sleeping.
This is the worst case scenario of when you live a mobile lifestyle. While many things stay the same while you are gone, lots will change too. Your favorite store might close or your tight group of friends might break apart. Or, your favorite pet will die. Would we have traded our time in China for staying at home during her last months had we known? Of course not. Will we forever feel guilty for leaving herÂ duringÂ her last few months? Of course. Every decision has consequences and before you decide to travel long-term you need to think about the potential consequences.
We first got Upoko 10 years ago when we moved to New Hampshire. She was trouble right from the start. Highly intelligent there wasn’t a room we could keep her out of. She would jump into our cabinets when we reached for a plate and manage to open both the closed bathroom and bedroom doors.
When she was a young kitten we could hardly get a full nights sleep. She would come into the bedroom and jump on top of us, or lick our ears, until we were awake and petting her. We started locking her out of the bedroom but it didn’t take her long to figure out how to open the bedroom door.
It was an older apartment and the bedroom door was slightly warped, so all she had to do was put a little pressure and dig in the bottom corner of the door and it would pop right open. (I have no idea how she figured that one out.)
We started putting pillows in front of the door at night so she couldn’t dig into the corner, but she learned to push those away. The we added a big scratching post which was too heavy for her to move, yet she figured a way around that as well. The we added the scratching post, pillows, and a blanket to cover it all so she couldn’t get at any specific element. It took about 10 minutes to set up and didn’t really help much as she would sit outside the door scratching half the night. Eventually, we gave up on the door and let her sleep with us.
Luckily she mellowed out as she got older, and let us sleep through the night. (Although her snoring woke me up on more than one occassion.)
She also had a taste for headphone wires and none were safe in her presence. Even being careful we would lose about one pair per month. She was normally ungraceful and floppy, but when she was on the prowl for headphones she became a silent ninja.
Once, she was sleeping on a shelf in the bookcase and I was at the computer listening to music. I wanted to get a snack, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want the hassle of rolling up the headphones and putting them safely away as it would only take me about one minute to grab something to eat. I looked up at Upoko and she was sleeping deeply, her face slightly twitching.
So I stood up quietly, ran over to the kitchen, got some food, some drink and sat back down at the computer. I looked back at Upoko still sleepingÂ peacefully onÂ the bookshelf and sighed in relief. Â Until I picked up my headphones and one of the ear buds fell off. She had chewed threw them. Ninja attack!
But of course now, all those annoying quirks are what we are going to miss the most. She was also incredibly affectionate and acted more like a dog than a cat, greeting us when we would walk in the door and oftentimes following us all around the house just to be near us.
The saddest thing is that she never knew what happened to us, or that we were coming back for a visit soon. The worst thing about owning pets is you can’t explain things to them and we wonder if she thought we hadÂ abandonedÂ her.
Rest in peace Upoko. We’ve been missing you all year and we will continue to miss you in the future. You were a great cat.