Kanye eased his way into our lives like a comfortable habit that’s hard to break. He was a barn cat on my parents’ farm in rural Ontario. A big, orange, fluffy, and very handsome cat. It all started with him nonchalantly passing by the cabin we had just moved into. He’d receive a pat and a belly rub and be on his way. I couldn’t resist leaving out a bit of food for him. It did not take very long for him to take advantage.
After a while he could regularly be found in front of our wood stove; soaking up the heat. He was a very personable and friendly kitty, but retained his independent spirit, doing his rounds on the farm and never staying inside with us for longer than a couple of hours.
Things changed when our newborn daughter Maddie arrived. Kanye was very intrigued by this noisy little bundle. He was constantly lying beside her and observing her. My very scientific reasoning is that he loved her hair colour; it was the same as his! Of course I’d heard the usual stories of cats sitting on little babies and suffocating them, so I was very aware of the danger. I soon saw that he just wanted to be near her though and had no intention of harming her.
His favourite time was nursing time. When I had my daughter cradled in my arms and she was nursing, he would sneak into my lap and spoon her. She’d smile and reach her little chubby hand behind her and be reassured when she’d feel his fur. It was so fun and special to hold these two gingers in my arms. It was a big love fest, really. He would purr, she would smile and giggle, and I would think “this isn’t so bad!” The beginnings of parenthood weren’t easy for me and Kanye definitely heaped on the love for Maddie when my patience was in short supply.
She grew into a rambunctious toddler and had to be reminded to not sit on him, carry him by his head, or pull his ears. Maddie’s uncoordinated little limbs must have hurt him often, but he kept coming back for more and was her constant companion. One of her first words was “kitty” and many potentially crabby afternoon-nap wake-ups were stopped in their tracks by his presence.
The day came when we decided to move back to the Yukon after a few years in Ontario. With heavy hearts, we chose to leave Kanye on the farm with my parents. He was a farm cat after all and knew no other life. Shortly after we left the farm, we heard from my parents that Kanye had disappeared. They’d looked all over the farm for him but he didn’t come back. We kept hoping, but after a month, we knew he was gone.
Maddie saw Kanye last when she was almost three years old. She is now six and still talks about him. She has another lovely cat now, but she still wants to hear stories about Kanye. He was a special cat. I grew up on the farm, so I’ve had lots of animals come and go, but I’ve never met a cat who so easily poured his love into a wailing, squirming, grabbing little human being. His patient and sunny personality worked magic on our little daughter. We still miss him.