I still remember the day we brought her home. I had it in my head to get another kitten. We went to the local pet store where we’d bought Bug (our black cat) and, originally, I had my eye on a fluffy little black cat. The fluffy one had a littermate, a little gray and white ball of fuzz that showed a heck of a lot of spunk. When we walked past, she reached her little paw out of the cage and grabbed my husband’s pant leg with her claws. This was our cat. She’d claimed us, and who were we to argue?
So we brought her home. She looked like a little gray mouse running around our basement apartment, so we named her Mouse. She took easily to life with our two older cats, Bug and Zelda.
She cracked us up. She went after our feet whenever she had a chance. She raced, slid across the tile floors, and ended up crashing into walls and furniture. She was a lovey girl, if a bit on the cranky side sometimes.
And that was Mouse, to a T. She was cuddly, loving, but enjoyed her solitude, even more than our other cats. She had her spots in our house: the foot of my bed, where she could look out the window at the backyard. My husband’s office chair in the basement. The sofa table behind the living room couch, especially in winter, when the heat was on and the register below made the table toasty warm.
Mouse would gently nip your hands, telling you to pet her if she felt you weren’t paying enough attention to her. When my husband would work downstairs at his desk, she was ridiculous, rolling and purring maniacally, insisting upon plenty of ear rubs. She was, quite possibly, the most domesticated cat on the face of the earth. She only liked dry kibble. No wet cat food, no cans of tuna, no “people food” whatsoever. Though she did enjoy nibbling my tomato seedlings. She couldn’t care less about the birds out the window. All she wanted to do was sleep in the sun.
Mouse had been slowing down the past couple of weeks. Started eating less. Pretty much stopped drinking. At her vet appointment this morning, we lost Mouse. She panicked when the vet assistant took her from me to weigh her. She yowled in a way I never want to hear a cat yowl again. She had a seizure. And when they set her on the examining table, the vet listened to her heart, and it stopped, right there.
I saw the moment she died. Her eyes lost the keen awareness, that knowing that only cats can pull off so perfectly. Her body stilled. I knew before the veterinarian said the words.
The vet and his assistant left me alone with her. I petted her soft fur, rubbed her ears the way she’d always loved. I whispered that I loved her, that I would miss her every day. I thanked her. People who don’t know better think that people own pets. The fact of the matter is that my cats own me. I am fully cognizant of this. I thanked her, over and over again, for being such a good girl. For cheering me up when I needed it. For warming my lap on cool autumn nights, and matching my own grumpiness with her own.
The receptionist at the vet’s office offered me ashes from her cremation. I shook my head. The only thing that will make me feel better now are the years of memories we made together. Right now, all I can think about is her last days, and that moment the light left her eyes.
Soon, I’ll focus on better things. The fact that her fur was as soft as a baby bunny. The way she’d roll around on her back, waiting for a tummy rub. For now, I’m mourning my friend of over 13 years.
I love you, Mouse.