Barring some miracle, Julia seems to be telling us that she is ready to go. We will spend tomorrow saying goodbye, and then our vet (who is fabulous, by the way, in case you ever find yourself in possession of a Houstonian kitty) will make a house call.
I told you a little about Julia before, but indulge me and I’ll tell you more. My sister and I found her at Petsmart over the Thanksgiving holiday of 2002, not long after I’d graduated from college. I was living at my parents’ house in VA but had just accepted a job in NJ. Obviously I was going to need a cat, and when we saw her, we knew she was the one. We called my then-boyfriend and bribed him into agreeing to keep her until I moved into an apartment. I filled out the application and heard back from the sponsoring rescue within a day or two.
I requested that they groom her before I picked her up, and there was some kind of fiasco that kept delaying it. Finally, she was mine!
I think I drove her up to PA that same night, to her temporary home. I visited on weekends until I moved to NJ (my boyfriend thought I was visiting HIM, ha!), and then I brought her over.
My apartment was underneath a man who sold drugs and abused his girlfriend. It was not the best environment for a nervous cat (or her owner), but we kept each other company and she kept me sane. At first, she would wait until I was asleep and then climb up onto my hip. Before long, she would go to bed with me and stay on me or next to me all night.
There were growing pains, though. Julia is a very particular cat. The food and the litter had better be just right, or you will find out that they are not. As much as I loved her, I had some times of serious frustration. I was encouraged by at least a couple people to start over and try again. My aunt, a big pet lover, said that “there are lots of good kitties out there.” But I knew she was a good kitty, we just hadn’t figured each other out completely.
When I bought a townhouse in a quiet neighborhood, she was obviously happier, but some of her issues persisted. I figured things were as good as they were going to get, and learned to work around her. No rugs. No unsupervised bedroom time. I developed the ability to smell fresh cat pee from a different floor of the house (some people have more useful talents, but this one is mine).
Mark is a dog person and was never thrilled about living with my neurotic little cat, but his superior housekeeping skills brought some much-needed order to her life. It was like things clicked. They even developed an appreciation of sorts for one another. When we moved to TX, to a much larger home, the transformation was complete. She became a much more mellow cat, comfortable with rules and even interested in visitors.
I’m sure Mark will never be fully converted to a cat person, but he has come to love her for who she is, and to appreciate what a cat can contribute to a household. He has taken extraordinary care of her (and me) this week, administering subcutaneous fluids and feedings and even a bath (THAT is love, my friends). When she leaves us tomorrow, it will be with all the dignity that a cherished companion deserves, and there will be a considerable void in our home.
“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan…” -Irving Townsend