It was 13 years ago last month that I adopted a little cat from the local Humane Society without realizing how badly she had been treated by her previous owners. The fact that they had had her declawed should have been a big clue. She attacked me and bit for blood every day for the first few weeks before she began to realize that she could trust me not to mistreat her.
I realized that her previous owner had been too rough playing with her and she constantly felt the need to defend herself. When she wasn't feeling that way she was a charming darling. I had originally planned her her to be an indoor cat, but she had other plans. She had quickly become fat, depressed, and developed ratty fur. I finally let her out and within a few days she was sleek, sassy, and very happy. I changed her name from Miss Kitty to Naomi. I knew how to help her heal -- that was to just love her more.
Friends and neighbors spontaneously started referring to her as the princess. They quickly learned to take care in petting her because she would quickly turn to bite them if they touched any spot on her body that she considered out of bounds. This generally consisted of her low back, haunches and belly.
As the years went by I taught her to enjoy being pet the whole length of her body but she was never reconciled to my touching her belly. I made sure that I was consistent in how I approached her with everything so that she could learn to trust me. After a couple of years Naomi loved to cuddle by wrapping herself around my neck. She did not like to sit on my lap, but delighted in sitting on my chest. I called her a juicy cat because she drooled so easily when she was happy and I had to be careful to keep her from drooling in my ears.
There came a time when a photographer wanted to take my picture in my garden for a book he was putting together. I asked him if Naomi could be in the photo with me. He readily agreed. Instantly Naomi showed up and curled up on the grass next to me without a bit of prompting.. Now we are both immortalized in the book Trailer Park People by Tom Sundro Lewis.
We ended up deeply in love. Naomi was always healthy and loved nothing better than being outside in the garden with my where she could supervise the work I was doing there. In the evenings I would sit on the patio and she would climb up on my chest where she could cuddle and keep an eye on everything in the area.
She had been 7 years old when I adopted her and after 13 years with me she really started showing her age. Naomi was becoming frail but she remained happy and healthy. I could see that at 20 years old she was nearing the end. One terrible night she suddenly took a bad turn and could no longer move properly. I think she had had a stroke. That was the signal that the end had come. The next day I had her put to sleep. I was heart broken. I sat crying in my car before I could manage to drive home, but I knew I had done right by her.
My house had never seemed so empty. After having had more than 20 cats in my life over the years I knew that there would soon be another cat. Within a week I had adopted a 3-year-old cat I named Mindy Sue. She is FIV+ (like HIV) and would have been hard for the shelter to adopt out. She will always be an indoor cat so that she cannot infect any other cat. She will never replace Naomi in my hear, but she has been quick to start creating her own place in there.
Now my home and heart are no longer so empty. My grieving will go on but there is someone new to comfort me. Farewell my princess.