When she was a kitten, we were constantly cleaning up remnants of paper. We’d leave the house for a few hours and come back to scraps of napkins scattered about the kitchen, or the roll of toilet paper splayed from bathroom to living room. Paper products lived in fear if KC Whittinger Longstockings Junior was nearby.
I’ve often wondered if animals think “Why in Heaven’s name did I get a bizarre name like that?,” or maybe they embrace it as a sign of their special uniqueness. However, I’ll place squarely the blame on my sons who chose her moniker (which might not be accurate but I can do that because they don’t live here and won’t be able to read this). “KC” was short for “Kitty Cat” (not very imaginative, I know). I don’t know the derivation of the rest of her handle but it didn’t matter; we referred to her simply as “KC” or “Case-ers.”
Newly divorced, I specifically chose KC from a litter in 1995 because she was the most talkative of the mob. Spending every other week without companionship, I figured I could somewhat fill the void by having a feline companion who would let me know what she felt with regularity. As they say, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Not only did she communicate, she did it — shall we say — “with enthusiasm.” She had a habit, especially in her later years, of waiting stealthily in the early morning darkness in the kitchen. The first human to enter — keep in mind not yet awake — would be “greeted” with an enormous howling ululation. Never sure whether it was “Good Morning, I’m glad you’re here,” or “What the heck took you so long to fill my bowl?,” what I can assure you is that after being welcomed as such by KC, there was no longer a need to use coffee to start your heart.
As a kitten, she adamantly refused to drink water inside the house. Oh sure, she’d eat (boy howdy did she eat!), but drinking water, no sirree! We placed bowls strategically throughout the rooms; a guest entering our home for the first time and seeing the water filled containers scattered hither and yon would assume we had the leakiest roof in the neighborhood. It was of no consequence; she refused to drink from them. We cleaned and refreshed them with regularity; didn’t make a spot of difference. When thirst took hold, she would sit patiently by the back door, staring at the knob until we conceded to her wishes. Then, without so much as mew for “thank you,” as some form of royalty, she’d sway and saunter on to the deck and lap only from the bowl outside. It was a ritual referred to (at least by the humans in the household) as “Water in the Wild.”
She rumbled constantly, purring simply if you looked at her, louder if you touched her. Of course she purred when she ate (how do they do that?), purred when she cleaned, and purred when she drank. She would purr, well, just because she could.
Although aloof, she was social. Never the type of feline who would sit on your lap, she did like to be “where the action is” and would only sleep in a room where others slept. Since we kept the door to the downstairs closed at night, she trained my younger son to wake up at any hour, open it, and sit drearily by her side in the event of her need for a midnight snack. Brandon, my son, would complain about it; yet would repeat the ritual whenever KC deemed it. My wife and I found it funny, looking at them as an old married couple who seem to irritate each other to no end, but in reality, actually love each other deeply. We might think we are the masters of our household; their relationship was a reminder that we would be wrong.
We almost lost her in 2007, due to severe illness. The upshot was she lost her hearing, causing her meowing to increase by several decibels. Being a sturdy old girl, she adapted and her last years were shared with two partners, Tiger and Motor; whom we refer to as “The Orange Boys.” They seemed to accept her over time, probably looking at her as the scraggly old aunt who sits in the corner, babbles, and smells funny; but whom we still love and is, after all, part of the family.
Even though her attitude never changed, she succumbed to the tolls of aging and slowed in her last few years. Due to a metabolism problem, she lost a great deal of weight, her fur became ragged, she moved more cautiously, and would sleep almost continually. A good day was to sleep in he sun (purring) in the caged-in “Catio” we built on our back deck.
Since her teeth were failing, I took her to the vet last week for a routine procedure that would help her eat with less pain causing her to gain some weight, and hopefully feel better. I swear that was the intention. It didn’t work out that way.
She never came home.
She passed painlessly in her sleep; never regaining consciousness. I guess if you’ve got to go, that’s the way to do it. But, it would have been nice to know it was coming. I mean, in retrospect, we knew it was near. Yet, it’s still just so — shocking.
We’re spreading her ashes under the prettiest tree in our backyard, a golden-chain; I’m thinking I’ll wait until Spring when it’s blooming again. That seems appropriate.
It’s funny how we can bond so closely to something that weighs less than a sack of potatoes. I know some day we shall purr again, but right now, it’s time to heal.
If you would like to read my wife’s account of K.C., visit it at TheVeryBestCats.com. She would welcome your comments.