Elli, the cat: April 1994 - 13.6.2013
Pretty much straight after we bought our home in Wellington we decided we needed a cat as well. At the local vet we saw a small handwritten ad for Shirley's Shelter and had a look. There was only one kitten in a place swarming with cats: a miniature Harley. In between sneezes she would purr so loud and so hard we couldn't ignore her. Add to that a story about a potential owner handling her only with gloves and asking if the bent tail could be fixed surgically and we had to rescue her from that fate. The above picture was taken in our lounge, her already showing a preference for hot places. And the photo below shows her using her favourite appliance in the house: a 1950's Kosy-Aire heater.
A fortnight ago we had to make the difficult decision to take her to the vet and have her put to sleep. For the past 19 years she had been our baby, comforter and characterful companion and we couldn't bear seeing her decline. Even though she was at times playing and behaving like a kitten, her dementia was getting worse. This meant she'd forget she was eating while literally standing over the food or forgetting what the feeling in the full bladder meant! She was losing weight rapidly despite us feeding her at every turn. And she was getting cold! Miserably cold. Winter hadn't really started and already she was scorching her fur crawling under the fireplace to get hot! We even had contemplated buying an electric blanket to ensure her being warm at night.
But the day before she was just not herself. Looking at us in a truly tired way, just lying in our arms and again purring as loud as she could. We made an appointment with the vets, in the afternoon so the kids could say their goodbyes as well and spent the day remembering her and giving her lots more cuddles.
First, all her friends from the Wellington time. Some were pedigree cats and chased each other around the house destroying our collectibles. Others run-of-the-mill moggies, shy as anything, but happy enough to come inside and have a cuddle with her on Ross' favourite sweater!
We thought about the time we had gone to the Wairarapa and upon our return found out that she had an accident and hadn't been seen for hours. The agony of looking for her in the neighbourhood, calling and not getting a reply! And then, in the middle of the night, a faint rustling outside our window, I call and she jumps in! A quick check revealed she had de-gloved her chin but else was fine. The next weeks were spent with visits to the vet to get the strings holding her chin up re-attached as she kept chewing them through!
And then her first visit to the Wairarapa: she got out of the car, looked around, inhaled deeply and gave us an understanding look: "This is where you've been going to all the time!" And then, she caught her first rabbit. After that, Wellington was for pussies.
We were worried she'd love it soo much, she'd run away, but she truly was our child and always was back home at night, ready to go to bed and cuddle up to us. She always snuggled up behind my head.
While the Rapa was the accepted weekend place now, we changed location within Wellington a few times. Each time she adjusted to new ways of going outside, dealing with and charming the neighbours. Over the years she faced and dealt with quite a few changes, the biggest one I'd imagine the arrival of our two-legged babies. And she loved them as well! It regularly stunned me to observe how she'd cuddle up to one them if they were sick or unhappy.
When we decided to add a few more critters to our menagerie, we wondered how she'd cope. Fine!
After we had moved to the Rapa permanently we got a black lab, Tuppence, and a while later we adopted a stray cat, Purdie, that had been abandoned and the SPCA wouldn't take her. And did it faze her? Not a bit: the dog was shown her place in the pecking order, at the bottom, and the other cat was ignored!
Even though I cannot guess how Tuppence and Purdie are feeling, the rest of the family will truly miss her.
We're taking comfort knowing she will not be cold or hungry anymore and she got as much love as she could soak up.