Cats of My Heart

This is, quite simply, my ode to four of the girl cats who graced my life. These four were special to me. The ache in my heart says so. Why all girls? The bond. The male cats I’ve had were good cats, good pets, but it was different with them. Yes, I’m biased here and not trying to hide it.

I’ll note that each of these girls was spayed. In my mind, they remained more playful as a result. Oh, but they were each so much more than that, for they were all friends and companions and I loved each and every one of them.

There were cats in my life from before my memories. I know, because there are pictures. My cat journey, though, began as I entered elementary school…

Ginger. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Ginger was your classic red tabby. She was a tough, headstrong cat. Tough cat is how I remember her. She was also loving. I remember the first time I saw her as well as I remember yesterday. I was about six. I came home and my mother informed me there was a surprise beneath her bed.

On the floor, I looked beneath. When my eyes adjusted there were two gold eyes looking back. Ginger was pretty much mine from that day forward. My two siblings were much older. Ginger had a penchant for attacking fuzzy slippers and stealing spaghetti (sauce, included) if she could get to it. When I turned twelve I became a lone child at home. My mother moved us to Vermont where Ginger increasingly became an outdoor cat. Until then, we’d been close, but she drifted away. And then she was gone. I miss her.

Pepper. Photo: CAHawthorne

Another cat entered my life not long after arriving in Vermont. Pepper entered the household while I was gone because how my life was structured due to a custody arrangement. My mother named our cats and had a thing for spice names. Pepper was strictly an indoor cat. Black, except for a tuft of white on her chest. Gold eyes. She was, in short, so very beautiful.

Pepper was mine. She slept with me each night, my ever present shadow. I’d never had, or even been around, a cat as loving as Pepper.

She loved to play, and went crazy if given catnip mice. For a child who was going through an extremely rough period, Pepper was the one who got me through. I can’t count the number of nights I hid, shook, and held that cat. It was someone else’s unnecessary cruelty that cost me her, though she lived to an old age. I had her for too short a time, but a piece of my heart remains hers forever.

Prudence. Photo: CA Hawthorne

I absolutely have to mention Prudence because she was a cat that can’t be forgotten. I was in my 20s when she entered my life and was the second cat I had the pleasure of naming.

Prudence was memorable with a capital M. She had a tortoiseshell coat (the picture doesn’t do her fur justice). She was also a maniac. Unbridled energy. Yeah, Prudence was all about that. If you swung a toy high she’d leap five feet into the air, performing a backflip with the effort. She was my first spider hunter. She killed them in the bathtub, always leaving the legs behind.

Adaptable is another word that comes to mind. Prudence could transition from a strictly indoor cat to an outdoor cat and back again with ease. She could be affectionate, but forever and always I’ll remember how she loved to play no matter her age. I never had more fun than I had with Prudence.

Misha. Always thinking. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Last is Misha and, yes, the tears have begun. They’re instantaneous with just  the mention of her name. My dear, Misha, taken from me far too soon. My little girl. My little gray cat. The wound, its still raw and it’s been awhile.

I’ve been waiting to write this blog post for her. I thought I’d waited long enough. I was wrong, but will prolong the waiting no longer.

Misha was my everything cat. She saw me through the hardest times of my life. When I started life anew. When I almost died. Through my long recovery, it finishing only to have her begin to fail.

Oh, Misha…

She slept with me each night. No, more than that. She’d nestle beneath my arm, her head on my shoulder. We had so many routines we shared that had nothing to do with feeding. She was, without a doubt, the smartest cat I ever had, and easily bored. We invented new games—yes, she and I—to play together before inventing new ones.

A morning with Misha. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Never have I had a cat who loved to race through the apartment like she did. Her favorite fun was to leap from the back of the couch at a run. Most of all, besides how damned smart she was, was how devoted she was. No matter how hard I’d try to sneak up to the door, she’d be there to greet me. Yes, like a dog. She was that attentive.

My little gray cat. Yes, just a plain gray cat, but oh so special in every other way possible. In absolutely every other way.

It’s taken me forever to write this post, longer to edit. I apologize for any typos as I’ve tried to cut it down to a manageable length. There’s still the pain. The loss remains too raw. My little girl was taken from me far too soon, and that after years of trying to manage the illness taking her from me.

Attentive, devoted, and playing games with the cursor. Photo: CA Hawthorne

I’ve rearranged the apartment and still she’s everywhere. It’s ridiculous and it’s silly and it’s probably far more than that, but so often I think I hear her. So often I think I see her out of the corner of my eye. I’ll turn. I look for her.

A lot of the reason I listen for her still is because Misha was my talker. I don’t mean she meowed all the time. Not at all. I’ve always talked to my cats a lot, but Misha was the first and only who responded to me when and how she should (not in human, of course). Our conversations would go on and on. In the silence of my home, that hollow emptiness is a roar.

Such a pretty, photogenic girl. Photo: CA Hawthorne

In truth, Misha wasn’t my cat, and certainly she was never my pet. Misha was my tenacious roommate and friend, she was my little girl. I couldn’t think of her any other way. She made it impossible to do so. She was my feline soul mate. She’s gone.

Misha, my dearest little one, mommy misses you so much. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. I tried so hard. Please take care of that piece of my heart you took. May you have it forever. I gave it up willingly and never want it back.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Misha knowing how to be cute. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Photo: CA Hawthorne

I can’t say enough how dear this picture is to me. Photo: CA Hawthorne

My favorite picture of Misha and I. Photo: CA Hawthorne

 

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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