It was a coolish drizzly October day in 1998 when a strange looking cat appeared at the door of my patio. She was wet, scrawny, and screaming her head off for food. Since I was not a cat person, I was content to leave her there, hoping she would go back to wherever she'd come from. My roommate, however, was a cat person, though she was allergic to cats and she proceeded to feed the starving waif. She started off with frozen shrimp, then hopped in the car and went to the store returning with Purina Cat Chow, in the BIG bag. At that point, I knew we had a cat.
Because she wandered the apartment complex, we took her (& her friend) to the vet to have her spayed and vaccinated. Unbeknown to us, she'd already been spayed! She was also declawed, which was so surprising for a stray. We never knew anything of her past, but loved her anyway. Since she looked like a calico cat, we christened her Callie. She responded to the name, which was an added bonus.
I spent hours laying at the door, looking at this cat. I loved her face, half black and almost half orange. I was fascinated by the orange splotches on the back of her ears. I was intrigued by the color pattern of her coat. I spent countless hours petting her outside and watching her play in the bushes outside our patio fence. When the weather turned bitterly cold, we set up a nice warm place for Callie and Fraidy, the little long haired stray that hung out with Callie. We let them sleep in the laundry room that was outside, but they preferred to be in one of the boxes on the patio. We did put a covered heating pad out for them, so they did have some warmth. They also had towels to snuggle in and were well protected from the elements.
At some point in time during that year, I started allowing Callie and Fraidy to come into my bedroom (I had doors that opened onto the patio) at night. I would call for them and they'd come running. Callie loved being on the boxes in my huge walk-in closet and would spend the night there. She would hop up on the bathroom counter and sit there like she owned the place. She would knock my contact container into the sink every single morning. It was a game we played.
At the end of our lease, our rent was being raised and we couldn't afford to stay at that apartment complex. My roommate decided to move to another city in the Metroplex to be closer to her sister. I decided to stay in the area. The roommate was going to abandon the kitties, but I couldn't do it. I'd been taught that once you take on the care of an animal, you continue caring for that animal until you either can't afford to or the animal dies. I was in it for life. So, I found an apartment that had a 2-pet limit, paid my pet deposit, paid the security deposit for my apartment, signed the lease and started packing. Unfortunately, I could only round up Callie when it came time to move. Fraidy was a true feral and I never could find her. I went back every single day for 2 weeks looking for her and never saw her again.
In our new apartment, Callie became an indoor-only cat. It was too dangerous for her to be outside with no claws. Besides that, it's just too dangerous for cats outside period. She was extremely skittish and hid constantly under the bed or in the closet at the slightest noise. She did, however, bond with me and we became a pair. I'd pack her up and take her with me to my dad's house when I visited. I didn't know kitties didn't like to travel. I'd play fetch with her (inside the apt) and she'd chase the string under the bath mat for hours on end.
Callie was a very well-mannered cat. She never jumped up on the kitchen counters and she never eliminated outside the box, except for when she was sick. She would spend hours in the closet on the old bedspread I made into a pallet for her. She also liked to sleep under my bed. At night, she'd sleep to the left of my pillow and purr herself to sleep as I was petting her. To the end, she loved to sleep on the bed with me. She loved to be brushed and petted. She'd purr just when I'd start talking to her. She'd follow me around the apartment and always accompanied me to the bathroom. In the mornings, she'd sit on the side of the bathtub between the shower curtain and the liner while I took my shower. If I was singing, she'd join in. I'm sure it wasn't because I have a great voice, either! She would spend hours sleeping in the window perch in the sun. Even yesterday, she got up in the windowsill on the towel and slept in the sun. She loved playing with "the string". I had to put it away after playtime or she'd hunt for it! She loved playing with the laser toy, too. Mostly, though, she enjoyed hanging out with me.
She was the best napping buddy. If she didn't follow me down the hallway for a nap, she'd find me and I'd wake up to her snuggled up next to me. She'd get up at about 5 in the morning, go potty, then come and get in bed with me. I pretty much woke up to her snuggled up against me every morning. If breakfast was late because I'd slept in, she'd let me know. I hardly heard a peep out of her except when I had to put her in her carrier. Then she'd let me know exactly what she was thinking!
Callie turned me into a cat person and taught me what it meant to love and be loved. She was always there for me and trusted me beyond measure. She taught me so much about commitment and being thankful for the simple things, a roof over your head, a warm bed, a faithful companion, a good buddy through thick and thin, and a steady supply of food. She didn't ask for much either. She was content with a bed made from old towels and blankets, little wads of paper to play with, a good box to play in, a plastic bag from Wal-Mart (with the handles cut) to attack and play with, and lots of sunshine.
In the end, it was her kidneys that failed. She was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in 2005 after being given a shot of Metacam for her arthritis. Watching her slow down was hard, but watching her go downhill this past week, I knew it was time to let my girl go. Mark & I had made the decision months ago that when/if she ever got to this point, we'd not do anything heroic, but let her go with dignity. I spent all of yesterday loving on her. We had one last nap and she had one last afternoon in the sun. She's ready to go. I'm not so sure I'm ready to let her go, but I know it's the right thing to do. Callie is my heart kitty and I know there will not be another like her. No other kitty can take her place.
Farewell, sweet girl. Know that you brought me many years of laughter, happiness, and joy. Thank you for choosing me to be your human and your Meowmy. I love you so very much. Play and run freely in kitty heaven and don't cop that tortitude!