Our Maggie Cat, a Blessed, and a Blanket



We went for a kitten.

We took home a sad looking seven year old cat complete with a dragging lame leg.

Our cat Maggie died this past Saturday and since I've never actually shared her story or ever really even mentioned her!, I thought it would be good to write it down for posterity sake, at least.

We'd been in our new-to-us but 1881 farmhouse for almost a year. We decided that for Christmas we would surprise the boys with a kitten. We would raise it indoors but then hopefully it would also serve as an outdoor cat to help with some of the pests around the house. Make the farmhouse complete and all. I thought a cat would be particularly good for and loved by our then timid and sensitive four year old. But once I took my turn at the SPCA (my husband had visited earlier), I couldn't say no to the gray-coated old feline with the bright green eyes and the poor, pathetic leg dragging behind her. She was about seven years old and  her leg would never heal, they said. They didn't know what had happened and no one seemed to know any of her history, but no one would want her and she was free. My bleeding (and economical) heart was sold. I convinced the husband that we were supposed to have her. We brought her home December 23 and hid her until Christmas morning.

We ended up naming her Margaret, Maggie for short, after Blessed Margaret of Castello. (I know, I know. Gimme a break, I'm a Catholic nerd and I gotta get these girl names out somehow.) I had read her story and knew Blessed Margaret was born blind and with a severe spinal defect that caused her to be unable to walk well. After over a decade of imprisonment in her own home by her ashamed parents, they eventually abandoned her at a church. Imperfect, unwanted, abandoned. She was temporarily housed in different homes of the villagers of Castello, stayed at and then left a convent for their lax rule, then returned to the village to teach and care for the children there. She eventually became a Dominican sister, beloved by the villagers who demanded a burial inside the church because of her holy and esteemed life. Because of her story, we thought her a good namesake for our poor lame unwanted new pet.

Maggie was probably the gentlest cat I have ever known and I grew up with many. (The picture above looks the opposite, I know, but it was the only one I could find, ha! Apparently I only overtake pictures of my kids not my cats.) She loved people. Never once in her nine years with us was she aggressive. I can think of only one time when a toddler was all up in her face and hurting her that she scratched in defense. Because of her lame leg, we knew she couldn't be an outdoor cat. For the first year or so of her life here, you could hear her coming from across the house, the amusing and pathetic sound of the poor lame leg dragging behind her. Then something strange happened. Our son Michael began praying during family prayer for Maggie's leg to be healed. It wasn't long or often, maybe a handful of times. Several weeks later we noticed that she was walking better. A few days after that, her leg was completely normal and she was walking like a full-blown four-legged healthy cat and she stayed that way until a few days before she died.

Without fail, whenever our family would gather at night in the front room to pray, Maggie would leave her favorite spot on one of the dining room chairs and come in the room with us. Whenever we would go to the porch instead to pray, she would meow until we let her out, too. Now, I know it could have just been that she was hoping for affection. But eventually she would've given up because our boys just weren't forthcoming on the whole cat affection thing and she never seemed to come at other times when we were just hanging out in there. It was weird, possibly coincidental, but neat. She helped us welcome three of our babies into the family.

She and I had our differences. She was harder on the furniture and slipcovers than anyone else in the house. She would shed and get hair everywhere and cough occasional hairballs on the floor. To my sometimes annoyance, she would be far too friendly with guests. She would sometimes meow in the morning threatening to wake sleeping children. If we were gone out of the house for a while she would show her dismay by leaving little presents for us in other rooms. And let's be honest, litter boxes are just gross. But as the only females in the house, we had a funny bond. She was truly sweet and gentle and even caught a several mice for us over the years. Her tastes were very simple, preferring only her dry cat food and water. She would refuse table scraps that any other cat would devour, though after years of living with us she did eventually learn to scoot into the kitchen at the sound of me opening a tuna can and would lick one (and only one) clean.

I'm grateful she didn't suffer much. We noticed last week that she had stopped eating and drinking and was looking bloated and lethargic. She very quickly declined. She lost weight, rapidly became too weak to walk, and refused any water. But thankfully, she didn't seem to be in much pain. Luke, Ben, and I were with her when she meowed a few times and took her last breath. We buried her in the yard. Namesake or not she wasn't getting an in-house deal. Brian and I were actually sadder than we expected. We aren't the kind that are super sentimental about pets but it's been weird that she's just gone after so many years of being here. She lived a good, long cat life, though, being about 16 or 17 years old. Ben, our three year old, was sad and it's been interesting and beautiful to help him figure it out and process it.

So that's the very abridged story of our Maggie. I never would have pictured writing about her but it just felt right to do. I've shared so many family memories on these blog pages that it would have a piece missing if I hadn't, I think.

Funny little addendum to it all...she died while laying on a small fleece blanket that we had. After she died I decided that we could just keep her in it for burial rather than move her. It just seemed the right thing to do even though it seemed odd to bury a perfectly good blanket. The very next morning we were at Mass and a woman from church comes over to see us afterwards. She tells me how beautiful our family is, congratulates us again on Peter and hands me a bag. Inside? A beautiful new hand knit blanket. She had made it just for baby Peter. I don't even know this woman but she spent however many hours and dollars to knit a blanket for our baby simply because she saw us often in church and wanted to do something kind. She even included two of the sweetest little booties that are just perfect for him for the winter. People really can be so amazing. And so is God with all the funny little completely unnecessary ways He reminds me that He cares.

He likes it :)





3 comments

  1. Happy to hear that she lived a long and peaceful life with you! She will be missed, thank you for sharing her with us

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  2. We both named our girl Maggie - ha! That's so cool about her leg healing, the prayers of children are miraculous :)

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  3. Sounds like she was the perfect cat for your family. Thanks for sharing her story. I'll be praying for you Brian, and the boys.
    We lost our cats this year too and we also buried perfectly good blankets with them(and one of them also had her favorite pillow). Like you, we just felt it was right.

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