As you may have guessed, at this point, I'm not really Louey, or even Lou. The real Louey was a stray cat who showed up at my house when we moved in. He-- or she, I never bothered to check under the hood-- was a stray cat that I reluctantly made friends with.
By late fall, I started buying cat food and feeding Louey whenever he came to the porch. By mid-winter, when the weather turned dangerously cold, I began putting nests of blankets and towels on the porch for him. Some nights, I would go to bed with him nestled in the cat-cave,and wake up in the morning to find him still there.
He disappeared sometime in mid-January, and Roommate and I counted him as lost. He was so impossibly thin when he disappeared. It broke my heart. Made me feel like a really bad person. Although with cats, as with men, I knew it was impossible to make a lifelong stray a housecat.
But he reappeared some months later, and the feedings and loving began anew. We bought new cat food. We fed him leftovers and cold cuts. And he, still tragically skinny, returned our love with love.
The neighbors called him "Louey." It was probably, actually, Louie. The word on the street is that Louey had been here for years-- some say as many as five. Some say that he was the housecat of the neighbor behind me and that the neighbor, when he or she moved, just left Louey behind. How you could leave Louey behind is beyond me.
In the past weeks, Louey took a turn for the worst. Although he had a habit of bulemic binging and purging, it became worse and he was unable to keep anything down. And long, so sad, story short, while we were at Bonnaroo, our neighbor had Louey put to sleep. She said it was peaceful and painless and humane.
I suppose she meant for Louey, but the tears in her eyes and my own inability to take in Louey's food bowls are signs of the inhumanity of losing someone you love. I loved that fricking cat. And even now, days after I heard of Louey's fate, I cry as I write this.
I am not Lou or Louey. That damned cat was Louey. And the whole mythology of Loueyville arose from him (or her, I suppose I could have at least looked).
Thank you to the neighbor who did right by poor Louey. Louey was a good cat. And my friend.