You came to me as a tiny baby, staggering up to me one night shortly after my husband died. I'd walked out onto the porch to watch a lightning storm and heard the little squeaky sounds before I saw you struggling up the steps, soaked and desperate for warmth and food. I had no idea where your mother could be. You were barely weaned. I don't know if that early separation was why you stayed so small all your life, barely seven pounds even in adulthood.
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I took you inside and dried you off and fed you with an eyedropper, and you curled up in my lap for the evening, something you would do every evening for ten years. It was our ritual, our evening time together.
You were a quiet little thing, never making yourself obnoxious, always polite. You seemed to enjoy silence as much as I did; when I talked to you too much, you got up and left. It was just one of your little quirks that amused me. Another one was the way you ate the food in your dish, starting at one side and working your way over to the other side in a precise, straight line.
I liked it that when we played, you kept your claws and teeth to yourself, pawing and licking but never biting or scratching. You were more like a little dog than a cat in some of your behaviors. You kept yourself clean and never smelled bad, in fact your fur always had a very faint fragrance like jasmine, something I never figured out, but liked very much.
Another thing I never figured out was that whenever anyone stopped by, you disappeared. My friends used to tease me, saying I didn't really have a cat. You never allowed anyone but me to touch you, that I knew of, although there was that one exception, the gentle woman who came to the door for help when she had pulled over with a flat tire out on the road. You wound around her ankles while I stood there watching in disbelief. You begged her to pick you up, and snuggled into her arms. I will admit a bit of jealousy, and the only explanation came when she mentioned to me while we waited for the triple-A truck, that she was a Buddhist.
You could have left anytime. I never made any rules, never had to, never tried to own you. You stayed anyway, and I was glad to have a cat that didn't jump up onto the countertops and tables. I discovered after a while that this was because you were afraid of heights and if placed on a surface above my thigh level, you cried in fear and wouldn't jump down. I knew my kitchen surfaces wouldn't be tracked on, and that was wonderful.
You went outdoors to do your business, rain or shine, so I never had to have a kitty box in the house. Yet, you never brought fleas in, something I watched for since I'm hyper-vigilant for them, because they bite me so badly. You didn't shed much, either. You were so pretty with your warm caramel fur and pale blue eyes. I never got tired of looking at you, your delicate, triangular head, small-boned limbs, your perfect, tiny paws.
So you were my magical little cat, a miracle, really. With hubby gone and kids grown and living in other states and my friends turning into little old ladies with their endless recitation of ills and surgeries and feuds, you were my quiet place.
I found the hard mass on your underside one evening when you came to lay on my lap and couldn't quite make the jump up onto the couch. I could tell you weren't feeling good, but you'd been so quiet and polite about it that it took a while for me to notice.
I'm sorry I didn't have a way to save you. I coudn't afford the outrageous fee the vet wanted for removing the tumor next to your stomach. I had to let you go, and now I miss you so much, especially in the evenings. My lap feels very empty, and though I like silence, I miss that rumbly little purr you used to produce before going to sleep.
Everything changes, everything passes away, we all do. You came up my front steps at the perfect moment, and you saw me through a difficult time, little kitty, and I thank you. Goodbye, sweetie.