A little less than 12 years ago, I got a call from two of my best friends. Ryan and Val had recently bought their first house and had discovered that the previous tenants had taken their cat with them but left her kittens behind.
A tortoiseshell kitty with gorgeous green eyes had been tentatively coming up to them lately, and they were wondering if I’d adopt her?
The poor, little half-grown miss had been abandoned and left to her own devices. She was a little survivor. Of course I’d take her. I decided I’d name her, Jazz.
The next day, Ryan came calling with a scared, wee thing in a carrier. Our eyes met as I opened the door, and I knew it was love. I’m not sure she shared that sentiment, at least at first.
Week one was a lesson in patience as my new kitten hid behind the toilet in the downstairs half bath of my townhouse. I’d quietly clean the litter box, freshen her water, and leave her food every day. By the end of the week, a dark shadow could be seen darting about the house from time to time.
Her bravery rewarded with a larger, much more interesting space, Jazz began to seek my company. While still afraid of strangers, she was comfortable in my lap – and even more so – comfortable sleeping on me each night.
A couple months later, her sister, a faded calico, was caught and added to my little family. Mabel repeated the hiding that Jazz had done, but as the bolder of the two, soon, she too was out and about, snuggling with her sister and finding sunny spots to lounge.
My kitty companions were there as I achieved my second B.A. They moved with me from the townhouse to a house with roommates to Charles’ and my first apartment together. Jazz’s easy acceptance of Charles was a miracle and a testament to what a great guy he is. Both kitties timidly accepted our first place in Grass Valley and whole-heartedly embraced the converted barn, and its glorious sun room, that we rented before buying our little house.
No matter what our environment, my Jazz slept on my side or stomach each night, purring quietly in the night, easing my insomnia, and loving Charles, me, and Mabel with all her might. Bodie, it must be admitted, was never her favorite.
At the beginning of November, Jazz and Mabel had both put on that layer of fat which meant colder days were coming. By Thanksgiving, Jazzy had lost that layer and more. On December 1, I took both cats to the vet. Mabel got a clean bill of health. Jazz came back two days later for an ultrasound. My poor, brave kitty had liver cancer, a rarer type that didn’t cause her liver to swell, so it could only be detected by tests and machines.
I spent the next two days hanging with my little fur ball, finding food that she still enjoyed eating, lavishing her with as much attention as a cat could stand. Jazzy rallied, and I went back to work. She would hang out with her sister at night and wander around the house, but would always return to sleep on me, quieting my restless dreams.
On December 13, Jazz’s spark was dim. She seemed frail and tired. She had already crawled into her favorite daytime spot while I was getting ready for work. I picked her up and held her, petting her for as long as she’d let me. I set her down by her food, and patted her head, telling her we’d be back in the afternoon. She looked at me with her brilliant green eyes, a look both weary and full of love. When we got home from work, Jazzy didn’t come out to greet us. I found her in her favorite spot. It looked like she had passed soon after we left. She smelled slightly of food, and she was stretched out in her favorite sleeping position.
She passed in warmth and comfort, without any fuss, and I’m grateful for that. But boy do Charles and I miss her! Mabel misses her, too. She spent all of yesterday in Jazz’s daytime spot. The house seems too big sometimes, now. Jazzy may have been timid, with a quiet little purr, but she was a huge spirit.
It’s hard to sleep now. It’s colder, and there’s no comforting weight of a little, fuzzy cat that always kept insomnia at bay.
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