My own cat’s story is just as surprising. I originally had my eye on a small long-haired kitten at the shelter, but she got adopted by a very nice lady at the shelter before I had a chance to adopt her (the kitten, I am told, grew into a serious lap and neck cat). I chose a slightly older tortoiseshell kitten named Stacy.
Shortly after I re-named her Skittles and brought her home with me, there was an FIP epidemic at the kitten wing in the shelter. The majority of the cats in Skittles’ litter passed away because of being in such close quarters with a highly contagious disease. Luckily Skittles was only a carrier for the disease and she never developed symptoms for it. If she had remained in the shelter, which as an older kitten was likely, she almost certainly would have died. I knew I had made the right decision. Just like with Matilda, we had saved the stray from Barker Field simply by giving her a loving home.
I can’t remember when I knew I had picked the perfect cat for me. I enjoyed her playfulness, her cat-like penchant for hiding in things like boxes, plants, and blankets. I loved her cuddliness, how she would sleep by me at night, purring loudly, or try to curl up in my lap when I sat in bed. I loved how she got kind of pudgy and started calling her my squishy muffin.
Last year, when she was only middle-aged in cat years, her kidneys started failing. It was not improbable given her unknown genetics, but it caused my fattie to slowly lose weight, lose the healthy sheen to her fur and the elasticity to her skin, and her energy to decline. The vet gave my parents some medicine, pills to keep up her appetite, and fluid to inject into her several times a week. Few families would do that much for a seriously sick cat. I was away at college, so sadly I couldn’t really do much to help, except on vacations. In March, her condition severely declined, and I went home to say goodbye to my kitty. That was the saddest day of my life.
My mom says animals like to do this to us, to cause us to cry, but it’s our own fault for caring so much. So to all those people who say they don’t want an animal because they can’t handle the pain of losing them, I say what a bunch of sissies! Why do anything if you’ll be sad when it’s done? That’s like saying why make friends because you might lose them, or why date someone because they might leave.
The more strongly you feel about something, the more you know what is really meaningful, what matters to you, what is worth getting up for in the morning. Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t worth it. I still miss her, but I have no regrets about choosing Skittles, and I am looking forward to the next cat who chooses me. I might have had more time with another cat, and I might not have had to be so sad so soon. But she would have died in the shelter, and I loved the time we did have. I’m glad I got to spend 9 years with my squishy, purring, loving, playful Skittles.