Moonbeam, BraTenders 1st Mascot
Moonbeam is sprawled across the bra bar, staring straight into the camera, his face in extreme close up. His extraordinarily blue eyes fill the photo, their color and shape enhanced by the natural brown “liner” that rims them. His ears are alert, attentive as he watches the photographer cajole him to give us a smile. I remember falling into those liquid blue pools, totally smitten from the first time I laid my own baby blues on him.
When we started our business, our shop was situated above a meat market, produce market and pizza shop, so we wanted to get a resident exterminator, and give a home to an animal in need. My vet put us in touch with CAP – Companion Animal Placement services – who put us in touch with one of their foster parents for stray cats. I made an appointment to meet Moonbeam, who according to Maryanne, the foster momcat, was a “special boy” in need of a special home.
Maryann explained that Moonbeam had a long history with CAP, first making their acquaintance when he was just a kitten. He had somehow managed to scamper onto a window ledge of an apartment building, 6 stories up, and was trapped. A woman in an opposite section of the building, who happened to be looking out her window at the brilliant full moon, spotted him, miraculously, because that moon was shining right into his blue eyes. The rescuer named him Moonbeam, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Moonbeam was easily adoptable as an adorable kitten, and was placed in a home from which he promptly escaped. Because he had been “processed” by CAP, he was now part of the “system” and would be searched for, and rescued again. Each time he ran away, the volunteers of CAP took to the streets, going from block to block, searching under cars and up trees, calling “Moonbeam, c’mon boy come to us, Moooon –eeeee.” Smart fella that he was, he responded to their calls, using up several of his 9 lives this way. He ran away from several more homes, and as a 3 year old with “behavior problems” was not so easily adoptable anymore.
Maryanne was a fabulous foster mom, and operated a spiritual resource network from her gigantic loft in the flat iron district, which at that time housed more than 15 cats in need of homes. She hired an animal communicator, long before anyone ever heard of the dog whisperer, to find out why Moonbeam kept running away, and what sort of situation he was hoping for. Now, I have no idea how Mary Long got this information from or to Moonbeam, or even if it was true or false. I have had many feline friends in my life, and have been known to talk to animals, but psychic conversations are way beyond my ken.
According to the pet psychic, Moonbeam knew he was mischievous and got into trouble, though that was never his intention. He had an inquisitive nature, and needed discipline and guidance, and disliked mean people who punished harshly for minor transgressions. When he lived in a house with dogs, he didn’t think it fair that the dogs got to go for walks while he was relegated to life inside. He didn’t like being in homes with other cats because, handsome devil that he was, the other cats became jealous and picked fights with him. Moonbeam wanted to be an only child. He liked being inside closets.
When Mary informed him that he would be living in a shop, not a house, and that he would be alone sometimes, he indicated that was fine with him! He also revealed that he had been a Latin lover in one of his former lives, and was just tickled by the idea of living in a lingerie shop, being surrounded by women. Customers adored him, and he reveled in their attention, and being called handsome. I thought of changing his name to Romeow.
His coat was tawny, white and silver, but it was his blue eyes that captured people’s hearts. One of his parents had been Siamese, so he could be quite vocal at times. He was a good companion, following us around the shop, sitting on command, parking himself on top of whatever we were working on to make sure we got things right. He was lightning fast, and prone to bolting out the door of the shop whenever it opened, so we started taking him on walks up and down the stairs of our building, letting him explore, always mindful of his escape artist proclivities. . At one point we put a harness on him, and he would walk on a leash if we took him away for a weekend in the country. Moonie was a dog in cat’s clothing.
He and I formed a very deep bond, and much as I wanted to cuddle the daylights out of him, resisted the urge to be a smother-mother. In time he became a lap cat, and whenever Al sat down in one of the red chairs in our lingerie lounge, Moonie popped into his lap content to catnap there. Sometimes when he looked at me I could swear he was reading my mind and knew all my secrets.
Several months after the photo was taken, we returned from a visit to Al’s mom in Florida, to find Moonbeam limping. We took him to the vet immediately, who diagnosed it as a soft tissue injury. We took him back to the shop, giving him some extra attention before we went home for the night.
I thought about taking him home, but Bo Cat and Twitchy would harass him as an interloper, and I’d be up all night preventing the fur from flying. Moonie wouldn’t have much peace or rest. He was better off in his own environment. I thought about spending the night on the floor in the shop, but we’d just returned from a crazy and unpleasant weekend in Florida, where Alan’s mom was descending deeper into dementia. Our flight home was delayed by 4 hours. I was exhausted, and ready for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning Angela called us when she got to work around 9:00, and told us Moonie was sitting in the fitting room, unmoving and unresponsive. We rushed over and called our vet, who told us to take Moonie to the ER, which was fortunately only a few blocks away.
It was agonizing waiting for the doctors to tell us something. This was so out of the blue! When the doctors came back to us after hours of test after test, each one costing hundreds of dollars, the news was not good. Moonbeam had suffered a series of strokes, and was now blind, and for all intents and purposes, brain dead. They informed us about the extraordinary measures we could take to prolong his life, but I stopped listening after brain dead.
I would not torture this blessed boy with needles and scalpels and steroids. I knew I had to let him go, that saying goodbye was the most humane thing to do. A vet tech brought him to me, and I held him in my arms, cooing, “ Moonie, my beautiful boy”, stroking his ears, tears streaming from my eyes. . We watched as they inserted an IV line and gave him the drug that would put him in eternal sleep. I held his paws and buried my face in his fur until his body went slack.
I think much of what I have learned about love and responsibility comes from being a lifelong pet guardian, and the special connections I have felt with each one of my furry companions. Sometimes I look at this picture of Moonbeam and still cry, touched by the love I felt for him, and him for me.