I have been putting off writing this posting, but the time has come. Visitors to Monkey Valley will be sad to learn that Donald the cat has gone. He disappeared while I was at a retreat in California in August. He has been missing for two and a half months now. Since Donald has gone missing before, at first I didn’t take it too seriously. You may recall the time he followed a blonde, perfumed woman home and started living with her! Another cute little female cat went missing at the same time, so I imagine that the two of them eloped together. However, neighbours all around reported seeing a lot of coyote activity around the time these two cats went missing, so that is always another possibility.
I called the SPCA many times, and put an ad on Craigslist, as well as a poster on the light post at Nanaimo and Wall Street. There were a few false leads, but Donald did not turn up. Still, the fact of his being gone didn’t really sink in, and I took it pretty lightly. On other occasions when he’s gone missing I have cried and thought about the early days when he first came into my home at Monkey Valley, a flea-ridden little bundle of fur that I had to keep in quarantine so that he wouldn’t infest the other cat I had at the time. I cried about his sad first days here, and wished I’d done things differently. I remember going into the bathroom where he was detained, several times a day, to give him food and affection. He climbed onto my lap and mewed and purred and was so happy to have some attention.
Little did the poor kitty know that he was living with mood-swing mama! I regret all the times I had angry outbursts around the house, not directed at him, but I think affecting him nonetheless. I wonder if these outbursts drove him out of the house!
Anyone who knows Donald knows what a curious adventurer he is. He spent most of the time in Vancouver out on the street prowling around, or else in other people’s houses! If they had a cat, he’d be sure to try to eat their cat’s food. One time he sampled a pie that my friend Azusa had left on the counter. He snuck into their place in the middle of the night, and dug into the pie like a starving gypsy. Another time he knocked their cat Himiko’s bag of cat food off the top of the fridge, causing a major kibble spill on the kitchen floor! The neighbours beside us reported that one evening they had a visitor from England, and Donald spent the night sleeping with him!
When we moved to Wall Street, Donald was again my emissary into the neighbourhood. He hopped through windows and slunk through cat doors, and was soon known by all the neighbours in the area—long before anyone knew my name they knew who Donald was!
The concern when Donald went missing was very moving to me. Emails were sent around the neighbourhood, and people I’d never met came up to me to ask if Donald had come home. One woman said Donald was a very kind cat. What an astonishing testimony! Especially since he often hissed at me when I picked him up! The sad thing was that Donald really didn’t seem to like being around me. He didn’t want to be at home with me. He always preferred to be outside. Maybe he was a cat with a mission, spreading sunshine to all he encountered!
As I have told some of you before, he was a totally different cat at Monkey Valley. Maybe because here I’m the only game in town, he usually hung around with me all day long, and he would come lay on the couch with me and purr in the evenings. He only did that a handful of times in Vancouver during the six years we were together!
So coming home to Monkey Valley this month, the loss of Donald finally hit me. In Vancouver we both had our own friends, and our own lives. But up here, we just had each other. The first night I was in the tub, and I could have sworn I heard Donald scamper up the stairs and give a little sneeze like he used to do. I wondered if Donald’s ghost was here, in the place he loved the most. (Later I realized it must have been a pack rat scaling the outside log wall of the cabin.)
I cried when I saw the ball of red string that was one of Donald’s favourite toys. He got it at the SPCA one time when I was stressed out doing my master’s degree and took him and the other cat there for a cooling off period. The next day when I went back, Crush had already been adopted, but that rapscallion Donald was still there, and I took him home, together with his new toy. All these memories, and reminders of when I was not the kind of person I wish to be! I suppose that Donald taught me a lot. What I miss the most is the purry little one whom I held in my arms.
Lots of visitors to Monkey Valley will recall Donald racing down the path to the medicine wheel, or scratching at their tents while they were trying to sleep. Many people took photos of him, drawn to capture the essence of his supreme cat self. I hope you enjoy these pictures of Donald, and join me in wishing him well, wherever he may be. Goodbye Donald. May your spirit be at peace.