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by Amy Hetland

Amy is a freelance writer who hails from the land of sky-blue waters: Minnesota. She also loves to volunteer teaching English as a Second Language, advocate for animals, and travel the globe.   

When I first met Chocolate, he held my hand. Actually, he wrapped his paw around my finger. But it was a sign, reminding me of my first cat, who held my hand as I sobbed my sorrows. 

For 17 years, we lived together, us against this world we couldn’t make sense of. As a kitten, Chocolate bit when he wanted my attention, or when he sensed a stray outside. I didn’t believe in letting cats outside alone, so Chocolate couldn’t fight this intruder. Thus, I became the unwilling victim. Chocolate obsessed with biting lampshades, exercise equipment, and stone cats. While waiting for me to get my lazy butt out of bed, he knocked the knick-knacks off my shelves. Chocolate tried to bite me in bed too, but I outfoxed him, covering my head with the blankets.

After a few years ofthis torture and many failed attempts to stop his biting, Chocolate finally mellowed out with time and age.  I think he needed to realize that I would never hurt him or abandon him, like his previous owners did. They had declawed all his claws, which lead to Chocolate developing arthritis in his hips. Nevertheless, it sure didn’t slow him down!

Chocolate begged to be brushed, scratched, and even vacuumed. Every time I took out my backscratcher, he would come running. He caught and munched on live bugs, all except ladybugs. His limitless energy led him to stuff his mini mice in the couch cushions, or flip his wooly mice in the air.My mouser chased after toys on a string, performing acrobatics as in the circus. 

I started taking Chocolate for walks on a harness and leash. Passerby would marvel and ask how did I do it?  I don’t remember, I answered, amazed myself. He hunted like a mountain lion on the prowl, catching snakes, mice, salamanders, and yes, more bugs. He wanted to bring in his prize, but I said no.  Chocolate played with his prey for a bit, and then put it down, watching it skitter away. When it was time to come in, he followed far behind like a petulant child.

My cat also liked to hunt on the balcony, catching birds and even more bugs and bringing them inside. I had to rescue many birds, running around the apartment trying to catch these frightened creatures.  When it was time for bed, like a dog, Chocolate only came in when I whistled. 

I couldn’t imagine my life without my baby. I knew he would die, and I tried to prepare myself for that eventuality.  I’ve had dogs and cats all my life, I was familiar with death. Nevertheless, as a single, confused person as myself, he brought me companionship and joy. I don’t know if I will ever adopt another pet. As much as I loved Chocolate, and as long as we were together, I don’t know if I could ever have another relationship like that. Although just a Domestic Shorthair, a dime a dozen, he was one of a kind to me. 

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