Nine Lives I Had...

When I was born, I had Nine Lives: One, I gave to my mother who brought me into this world; Seven, I spent pursuing foolish adventures; the Last, I lovingly entrusted to you for safekeeping. And to your heart you held it until the time came for me to take it back.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Chloe, Founder of the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats

At the ripe old age of 18 I was living on my own for the first time ever in a tiny two room efficiency. One night, I heard scratching noises in the other room, and I just knew it was a burglar trying to get in the window. A frantic phone call to my mother later, a fat old rat ran through my bedroom and disappeared into the closet. The people who'd lived there before me had a cat, and it wasn't until months later that this rat appeared. So since I was NOT going to live with dirty wild city rats using my bedroom as a corridor, I decided that I needed a cat myself.

The very next day, I meditated and came up with the right cat's name, Chloe, and went to find the cat it belonged to. I found an ad for free kittens and cats to good homes. I phoned, and was told to come over any time, and asked if I was sure I only wanted one. I was astounded when I arrived and found a house just full of cats. Apparently this lady had never heard of spay/neuter, because there were some 65 cats running around, by her last count, all descended from her male Siamese who was the top cat. The lady's husband had declared that they all had to go, so she was desperately trying to find them all homes. I told her that I lived in an efficiency, so I could only have one cat, and I stuck to that.

I started walking around and looking for Chloe. I knew she was in there somewhere, but I didn't have any idea what she looked like or how old she was, even. I'm sure the lady thought I was insane when I started softly calling for Chloe, but apparently Chloe didn't. She came walking up calmly, tilted her head, and sat down in front of me, ignoring her many siblings scrambling all over the place. She was a gorgeous black kitty, about 6 months old, long legged and thin, with big green-gold eyes. I scritched behind her ears and talked to her for a minute, promising she'd be taken care of all her life, all I wanted was for her to scare off the nasty rats with her scent. She agreed to come with me, I felt, and we left the crazy cat lady's house without a backward glance.

I quickly discovered that Chloe's Siamese background ran true to form in her voice. She let me know in no uncertain terms that riding in the car was NOT her favorite pasttime. But once I got her back to my little efficiency, she immediately made herself at home. From then on, even with several moves and adopted brother and sister cats that came and went, Chloe was queen of the house.

As a youngster, Chloe played fetch. Her favorite toy was a paper ball. Any paper ball. If there was paper and it wasn't balled up, she would insist in her strange Meezer tones that it must be balled up for her.

Chloe was an amazingly smart cat too. I developed a problem with forgetting to lock the deadbolt door in that first little efficiency we lived in. My heart would be in my throat when I'd come home from art school to find the apartment door open and Chloe wandering around the building. Since we lived in the city, the building was always locked, so she couldn't get out, just about inside the apartment building. But it was unnerving nonetheless. Then one day I heard a rattling noise at the door, and peeked out from my bed to see Chloe calmly sitting on the dresser, unlocking the flip-style deadbolt with one paw. I watched her paw the lock until it flipped open, then gracefully hop down and push the door open to go prowling. I could hardly believe it! Needless to say, I started using a secondary lock -- which Chloe couldn't flip open -- to keep her from letting herself out.

Chloe wasn't a lap cat, but occasionally she would deign to sit on me, or later my mother. You see, Chloe adopted my mother when I split with my ex-husband and could only find a no pets place to live. Chloe and Mom were thrilled with each other, though. Mom had always loved to visit and play fetch with Chloe. So for the next few years, I visited them together. Then, when Chloe was 15, an opportunity came for all of us to share a place, so we did.

Chloe spent the last years of her life a very spoiled and happy queen kitty with us two loving cat staff. I was working from home, and she supervised my activities daily from her own basket on my desk, complete with a "hot head lamp" to keep her toasty. In the evenings when my mother was home she would trot downstairs to hang out with her and get spoiled by her other human.

When Chloe was 18, she developed kidney failure. For a time it was possible to hydrate her and adjust her food, keeping her content and pain-free. Then one evening I saw her barely make it to jump into one of her favorite chairs, and curl up with an oh-so tired look. I knew then that Chloe was leaving us. I called my mother upstairs and told her. We were both so sad at the idea of not having Chloe in our lives, but we knew that it was time for her to go. It was a Saturday, evening, and we spoke to our very sweet, caring vet about how to best help our darling fur girl, and made an appointment to take Chloe to see her first thing, either for help or to help her make her crossing to the Rainbow Bridge. Chloe didn't seem to be in any pain, simply running out of steam, so we decided to spend her last days with her, close by, letting her know how much we loved her. My mother and I stayed with her constantly, talking to her, telling her we loved her so much, telling her how much we'd enjoyed her company.

Sunday, Chloe refused food, but would drink water if I would hold the water bowl for her. We brought Chloe to the living room, and I made a pallet to sleep on with Chloe, right next to the sofa where my mother slept that night. I woke up many times during the night, and gave Chloe little sips of water so she would be comfortable, without the dry mouth of dehydration. My mother woke frequently to pet her and talk to her too. We stayed with her all night long. Chloe never mewed or complained; she never seemed to be in any pain. She purred a soft little weak purr when we petted her and talked to her, poor tired baby. The next morning, we were both with her when the vet helped her gently to the Rainbow Bridge. Our hearts were broken.

But Chloe had left her mark indelibly, and we knew that we would get another cat. We thought perhaps we would wait a while and let our grief ease away first. The second day, though, I couldn't stand to not have little cat feet padding around the house. Neither could my mother. So I meditated and came up with the right cat's name, Sanjee, and went to find the cat it belonged to...

And that's how Chloe founded the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.


  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Hot(M)BC said…

    Thanks so much for posting Chloe's story :) :) :)
    Mom Robyn

  • At 10:10 AM, Blogger The Cat Realm said…

    What a wonderful story. You are very sweet beans. I had a bit to much from the pool of loss lately, so I am all up in tears but I will try and drink lots from the pool of memory!


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