2 weeks ago
Sunday, July 23, 2006
We lost part of our family today.
Big Kitty chose us. She became a part of our family when one day, my daughter Becky heard a noise coming from the upper story kitchen window outside her small apartment. When she went to investigate, she discovered a giant grey cat, stuck with all four white paws splayed, claws out, hanging from the closed screened window. This window was to the side of the porch rail, with nothing directly below it for a whole story below down to the ground. Big Kitty had taken the precarious (and literal) leap of faith sideways, from the porch railing to stick onto the screen, and howled to be let in. Now mind you, Big Kitty was frequently sighted in the complex parking lot, with no apparent owner about. But never had she taken it upon herself to ask for a home. What if no one had been home? What if Becky was in the shower and didn't hear the demands for entrance? There was no way to get off that window screen, other than down to the hard asphalt below. Big Kitty never hesitated. And Becky rescued her.
After a subsequent move back home to my house, (Becky's tears at the thought of abandoning said Kitty were influential) Big Kitty smoothly integrated herself into our family, striding right up to the alpha role. She was never ruffled, and always came out on top. She managed to put Tobin (the former alpha, pumpkin colored, "woofishly" large St. Bernard/Aussie Shepard mix) in his place with a single well-placed sneer - often causing Tobin to skulk back to his side of the porch in defeat.
Big Kitty was a garden cat. On any given day when one was out in the yard, or further out into the garden, Big Kitty was the constant companion. She inspected every inch & all areas of the yard, and accompanied us about as we watered, weeded, hoed or raked. She enjoyed her family, and took her role as companion seriously. When a family member would arrive home, Big Kitty never failingly ran out to greet them. If you weren't careful when opening the door, Big Kitty would slip inside the car. This happened several times in her lifetime, twice using up one of her nine lives by being trapped inside a searing hot baking car. One time Becky miraculously noticed her inside & pulled her out, having to douse her with cold water to revive her seemingly lifeless self. When G and I were walking up the street one time, Big Kitty thought she was included in the walk, and proceeded to follow us onto the street, crying piteously for us to wait for her. After many attempts to turn her back home, G finally just unceremoniously picked her up and stuffed her into his shirt for the rest of the walk.
At times, even as her age crept up, Big Kitty had spells of what we called acting "kittenish". She would bunch up, scrabble with her claws as if there were a small prey beneath her, and then whoosh! Up the nearest tree in a mad dash she would madly streak... then have to back foolishly all the way back down. She would continue the frenzy, dashing here and there, "killing" crackly leaves along the way. Then, before your eyes, she would transform into the stately queen of the universe, dignified, serene and certainly above such nonsense.
Big Kitty was a water cat. For some unknown reason, from the beginning, she loved and in fact demanded fresh water to be available for her to drink. This included turning on the tap so she could drink it fresh as it came out (this could lead to a large water bill unless you stood there waiting for her to finish so you could turn it off). Also she had a cup to drink from at the bathroom sink. Numerous water bowls placed about the house often caused me to swear under my breath when I accidentally and unavoidably kicked them over. She took her water to the extreme outside, following me about as I filled up each flowerpot, each birdbath, and saucer about the yard, sampling each and every one. She came to have one favorite, which was an upright flower vase, from which she could drink without the inconvenience of standing up. She sat, drinking at face level. Woe to you if any of her drinking spots were low, as her increasingly loud and haunting howls would echo throughout the household.
There could be a whole book written about this one cat. I know there are many cats, all with their own unique stories, but this beloved cat was one of a kind. We laid her to rest under the oak tree in the garden, where she will always have presence.