I took a break for the holidays. Sorry.
On Christmas, I went to my mother’s house as always. She has two cats: Ella and Jamie. I don’t like Ella. She was a kitten from a feral rescue, and she is fairly feral herself. She was never that clever or cute or cuddly, and she ate herself sick. Jamie, however, was special to me.
Once upon a time, when I first started dating Mr Egyptian Mau nearly 11 years ago, we were outside my old house late at night for some reason. On the road at the end of my driveway, we found a kitten. I intensely loved cats even then, but I didn’t have any. My childhood cat Krissy had recently disappeared to the great unknown after twenty years.
As a sidebar, it’s still so hard to write that. One night, Krissy wanted to come in. She knocked at my office window, not the door, and I was busy, so I didn’t get up. And we never saw her again. She probably died alone in the woods because I didn’t let her in that night. I will never forgive myself. She was also sick – thin, incontinent -, and my mother would not take her to the vet. It is not coincidental that as an adult I am very well-known at our local animal hospital, and not just because my cats have spots.
So we saw this kitten wandering outside my house, and I ran back in to get some cat food we still had. Lou thinks I also got whipped cream. I don’t remember that, but it sounds like something I would do.
We put the food down for the kitten, and it was so hungry it ate and ate until its belly bulged from the sides. It was so sweet and friendly. We pet it, and it purred, and I decided to call it James. We didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, but I just thought it was appropriate. Despite how hungry James was, he had a mission. After eating, he didn’t stick around. He trotted down the street into the distance as if he had somewhere to go. I decided he had an owner and let him go.
A couple months later, my mother tells me that a sweet cat is hanging around our house. She was very friendly, and my mom started feeding her. Looking at this bigger cat, and thinking about James and his coloring, I decided they were the same. We called her Jamie. Jamie was an outdoor cat and so sweet she had multiple owners. Sometimes she hung out in my mom’s house. Sometimes she disappeared, and we thought she was with the neighbors. I was in college at this time so I didn’t see her that often.
My mother eventually moved to a new house far away. Even though she wasn’t sure who ‘owned’ Jamie, on a whim, she decided to pack her up and take her along. Jamie was still an outdoor cat, but in the new neighborhood now. I told you I didn’t like Ella; one of the reasons is that she was the dominant cat, and sometimes she would beat up Jamie as cats do. Ella was much bigger due to her over-eating, and Jamie was pretty sweet, so it was an easy fight.
I really loved Jamie, and she loved me. When I came to my mother’s house, she would materialize and roll around on the grass until I pet her. When I left, she followed me to the car. I pet her and played with her because my mom doesn’t really ‘get’ playing with cats. At the new house, Jamie was getting quite fat like Ella, as my mother feeds them ridiculous things, and I guess the new neighborhood changed her exercise habits.
10 years passed. I came down to visit for some reason – perhaps my birthday this past August – and Jamie was still overweight, but much thinner than before. My mother told me that she was throwing up a lot, probably had cancer, and was going to die. I planned to kidnap the cat to the vet while she was on vacation a few weeks later. In the meantime, since Jamie was an outdoor cat, I thought she might have a parasite or worms. I told my mom to deworm her and let me know how it went while I waited for my chance to take her to the doctor.
Both my mother and her spouse separately swore that Jamie was better. She had gained weight and was no longer vomiting. I lived an hour away so I couldn’t weigh her and verify this, but I decided it had probably been worms after all. On Thanksgiving, she looked better, but without numbers, it was hard to tell.
Then came Christmas. That evening, I saw Jamie sitting outside our front door in a patio chair. She didn’t want to come in the house, and I had a bad feeling. I gave her some washed-off pork we had for dinner. She sat up from the chair to eat, let me pet her, and then sunk back down again.
And I knew it was over.
I asked them if she was okay, and they said yes, everything was fine. And then they txted me 4 days later to say she had died overnight. She had started throwing up all her food, and by morning she was gone. I think she was waiting to see me one more time before she died.
I’m sorry, Jamie. I hope I gave you a few more months. I’m sorry I couldn’t get you to the vet. Thanks for waiting. I love you.