Today we had to put down our Besa Cat. Our family has had many pets from cats and dogs to rabbits, sheep, goats, even a baby raccoon that was orphaned in a storm; and yes, that infamous flying squirrel. But Besa was by far the oldest pet we have had and putting her down was a difficult decision.
Besa was a gift, given to me in my first year of teaching by an 8th grader named Brent. I had another cat, Paco, die that year and was quite upset about the loss. Brent, wanting to make me feel better, gave me a sweet little striped kitten. I named her Besa, Spanish for kiss, because she loved to kiss me by licking under my nose. I was the only person she would do this to, and it was a habit that lasted her whole life. Seventeen years. I think that is pretty old for a cat.
Besa, like most cats, had some funny quirks. She was not a cuddly cat. She did not often curl up on a lap. But she showed her affection in other ways. While I was the only one she would "kiss," she rubbed up against anyone who would come into the house, marking all of us and any guests as part of her "family."
Besa kept the other two cats, Pumpkin and Josie, alive. When we sometimes forgot to check food and water levels, Besa was the one who would follow anyone around the house meowing until one of us replenished the supply. One time the basement flooded and Besa told us about that too! It was a running joke when Besa started following us quite vocally, getting under feet, to ask, "What's the matter, Besa? Did Timmy fall down the well again?" In the last couple of years, I guess she got a little tired of waiting for us to fill the water dish. She took to spending most of her time on the kitchen counter. Then when anyone went into the kitchen, they would just turn on the faucet for her. But having a cat living on the counter meant I had to keep it picked up a bit. She made a bed one time out of a package of dinner rolls and another time out of a box of clementines.
Besa was a sweet and unique cat. She was a good cat. In the end, she was not much more than skin over bones, even though she ate constantly. She injured a back leg in a trip off the kitchen counter. Her hair was falling out. I know that she was suffering and I am thankful that she is suffering no longer.
RIP, Besa. Find Paco and Whitey in cat heaven. Romp in a field of catnip. We will miss you.