Kinley’s Last Stand

Our family cat, Kinley, is suffering from a kidney condition. She’s basically a furry sack of bones these days, struggling to get her spindly legs up and down the stairs. She’s close to the end, and there isn’t much to do except wait and give her lots of love.

So you can imagine my surprise when I’m deep in concentration and Kinley lands with a thud onto the desk. She thuds down as much as a creature weighing a couple of pounds can thud; that is to say, the landing is not graceful. There is scraping and scratching, and she barely gets her back legs up past the edge of the desk. Although I imagine her heart must still be racing from that flying leap, she looks over at me with nonchalance.

Kinley’s heroics remind me of Roge, a dreadlocked cherub who was my bouldering guru at the climbing gym in Buenos Aires. Roge’s cherubic smile was deceiving; he would create the most infuriatingly difficult problems that required all sorts of Kinley-esque heroics. But Roge gave me some of the best advice ever:

Always fall climbing.

As in, don’t dismount because you don’t think you can make it. Always. Fall. Climbing.

So Kinley decides to crouch awkwardly in the small space between the keyboard and desk lamp. As any of you cat owners can imagine, within a few minutes Kinley and I are engaged in philosophical discussion:

Me: You must think we are crazy, us humans, tapping away at these little machines all day.

Kinley: Knowing smile.

Cutesy jokes aside, there is something very instructive in Kinley’s behavior. Towards the end of her life, the most meaningful endeavor for this animal–one that is worth the risk of falling–is to seek intimacy and connection with other beings.

I can’t think of any mountain I’d rather climb.

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