Today, I said goodbye to my beautiful cat of 13 years, Pandora (Kitty Kitty to her friends).
I'd always had cats, but John swore when we got married we wouldn't have any, because he did not like them.
Six months later he got me a cat for Christmas because of course he did.
She was a teeny-tiny little thing, found on the mean streets of Philly by some college students. But she didn't get along at all with their other cats, so they put her on Craigslist and passed her on to us.
She was terrified at first. She spent her first week hiding behind the washing machine; all we saw of her was a pair of yellow eyes. Another time I couldn't find her anywhere and thought she'd escaped, when we found her behind an open dresser drawer.
But after a while she warmed up and turned into a very affectionate, one-person cat. She loved me and only me. She demanded to sit on my lap or, if I had my laptop on my lap, would get on the back of the couch and purr against my shoulder. Every single day, if I was home, she was snuggling with me.
She did not like it when we had kids. The nerve. Marko once tried to play with her and she scratched his face. She wasn't having it. She especially hated the dog, when we brought him home. Honestly I'm not sure what we expected. Gilbert always respected her space, having been smaller than her when we got him, but she never relaxed around him.
She had a spot to nap out of his reach, on my desk, and she kept me company every day, despite all the other chaos that was going on.
Then we moved, and she decided the only part of the house she liked was the basement. I tried and tried to convince her otherwise: no dice. But when Gilbert had been shut up for the night, she would come upstairs for a little snuggle sesh on the couch.
We will eventually not be sad anymore. At some point we will get another cat, hopefully one that Tiger gets along with. Loving cats hurts because you know the whole time it won't be forever, and then it's not and you're somehow still surprised. But I'm not going to stop doing it. They are beautiful creatures whose time with us is always worth the pain of loss.
But today, I'm crying because when the kids go to bed tonight, she's not going to pop up to cuddle with me. I wish she could.