We had to put our little cat Misha down today.
I adopted her about ten years ago from an agency who told me she was feral and might never be very friendly. Wrong: she was a complete love, especially toward the boys and, in particular, toward C.
For his part, C had developed a deep affection for Misha, and that's saying something because C doesn't usually take notice of other living creatures aside from his immediate family. When he was a baby, Misha would sleep near or even atop him. Otherwise a skittish cat, she never ran away from C despite the overwhelming noise and frenetic commotion that attends his presence.
When C seemed so distant shortly after his autism diagnosis, he still took notice of Misha, often stopping to pat her on the head. Sometimes when he came upon her, he'd smile and say in a sing-song voice, "Meeeeeshaaaaa!"
I recently involved Colin in household tasks by asking him to feed the cats. He'd carry their bowls with pride, always giving Misha her bowl first. "Dinner, Misha!"
When she got sick, we began preparing the boys for the inevitable. C was devastated. Sometimes we underestimate him, we think to ourselves, "He won't get this." He did. He has. At points over the past few days, he's sobbed so uncontrollably that we thought he might run out of breath.
C, to me, is something of a guileless, pure spirit and Misha, being a somewhat feral cat by nature, was the same. I think he sensed that in her, and she in him, and they connected on that level.
Anyway, we've struck a deal: we told him we'll get another cat. Changing emotional gears as quickly as a Ferrari (or any typical four-year-old), C proclaimed, "I'm going to name her Scrappy!" (At one point he also suggested the name "31," which I think is pretty cool, too.)
A closing note to Misha: You will be missed. You were a sweet pet, a good companion, and most of all you made C very happy. For that last bit, I'll be eternally grateful.