Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Best Good Cat Who Ever Lived

On Wednesday, we said good-bye to our darling Phae. She was twenty-one-and-a-half years old, and while it wasn't a shock, in a way we'd sort of fooled ourselves into thinking she'd surely live another decade, because she had been so healthy and remained active and chatty despite stiffening joints and a need for more sleep. But she had chronic kidney disease, and that coupled with old age meant that her days were numbered. In the end, she couldn't do any of the things that brought her so much happiness throughout her life, and we knew that it was time to let her go.

Phae was my very first house cat. I'd gotten it into my head that I wanted a grey cat, and someone at church said that they had a grey little kitten, and I was welcome to come get her. So I did. She was timid at first, and she hid inside the sofa as soon as I let her out in the apartment I shared with a friend. I was in university at the time, and every day I would come home from my classes, lie down by that sofa, and put a little tuna in my hand, outstretched near to where she was hiding. Each day I moved my hand a bit closer to the outside of the sofa, and one day she came right out to eat her tuna treat. Finding that she was safe in the big, wide world, from then on she was a friendly and confident cat. She climbed up the side of my bed that night and slept on my pillow, kneading my hair with her paws. She had decided she was mine, and I was already hopelessly devoted to her.

Over the next two decades, we moved together, and sometimes she stayed behind with friends of mine when I had to work away. I called her on the phone, and then when video chats became possible, I'd talk to her that way. I know that seems silly, but she was my dear little friend, and it didn't matter to me that she was a cat. I wanted to speak to her, like I did every day when we were together. Even when we lived apart, I came home to her, always. She was the constant in my life during years that brought endless change, and a fair share of heartbreak.

When J came along, she decided she loved him. She moved in with him before I moved back home to marry him, and so one might say that she's lived with him longer than I have.  Next we added Z to the family, and soon after her arrival, they became fast friends. She would allow Z to dress her in all sorts of doll clothes and hats and various bits of fabric. Sometimes she gave me a look that seemed to mean, "It's fine. I'm fine. No problem."

Then when E came along, Phae seemed to decide that we'd brought her a kitten of her very own. She groomed her and watched over her. If E was napping, Phae would curl up next to her. As E grew and became quite boisterous, Phae simply accepted it. From time to time she might give a slightly annoyed meow, but she never tried to leave E's side or get E to change what she was doing. She still came to E to be cuddled and fussed over. I've never seen anything like it in a cat.

To the end, she was loving, patient, loyal to all of us. She loved us and allowed us to love her, and we have been better off because she has blessed us with her presence. We will miss her every single day of our lives.

Rest in peace, dearest Phae. We adore you always.