Saturday, October 8, 2011

Beautiful Belle

I came home one day to find my neighbor from across the hallway at my first apartment waiting for me. She held a small brindle colored cat in her arms. She was being a kind considerate neighbor and bringing my kitty back to our apartment. Problem was; she wasn’t my kitty.
When we lived in our small apartment we were in a busy suburb of Baltimore. It was a tiny apartment that four of us shared. Three of us went to sea for a living so there were many periods where only Johns girlfriend was in residency. That was until Chuck and I got ourselves two kitties. D.C. and Stormy. Then came Belle. She wasn’t ours, but she found us, (well someone helped her get there). When my neighbor brought that little brindled ball of fur to me, I thought that I would watch her for a few hours and then return her to her rightful fretfully worried owner. After the first few hours, I started making some phone calls, after a first night, I made posters, after a few months I gave her a name; Belle.
When we moved out of that little apartment into our first home we were a family of 6. (Remember Midnight had joined us when Chuck couldn’t leave her at the gas station by the apartment). I think our roommates were very happy to see us all go. It was cramped at 4 adults, it was an imposition at 4 adults with 4 cats. We bought our house, and every house since, based on what would be best for our pets. I have always lived in a house with a very very long driveway. I have always been an inside cat person, but there have been times that my cats have decided to challenge me on this. The dogs, well, they challenge me on everything. So the dogs have access to outside and an invisible fence. I spend a great deal of time taking care of my pets, and insuring their safety. I am an over protective mom, I am genetically wired this way. My mom still drives me crazy warning me about every possible (inflated) danger.
When we moved to our first home I was still going to sea. I went to the ship for four months, then I would be home for four months. It was a crazy, busy, hectic, emotionally charged way of life. I hated leaving my pets. But I tried hard to insure their safety. I always had a roommate that I trusted, but I always realized no one would love or care for my pets like I did. In the ten years that I sailed I lost 4 cats. Stormy disappeared within 2 years of us moving, Comet died of an infection that was never found until after he died, Blitzen was killed by my neighbors dog, and Belle ran away.
Belle was missing when I came home from sea four years into my new house. My roommate didn’t even know how long she had been missing. At that time I had 6 cats. I had been home for 2 months into my two month vacation and as I was driving to school, (I went to school for a semester between sea trips), I saw a brindled cat about 2 miles from my house on a hill. I knew the moment I saw that brown and black speck of fur about ¼ of a mile away from the road on that hill that it was Belle. I slammed on my brakes pulled off of the road and went running to her calling her name. As soon as she saw me and heard my voice she let out the most pleading "meow." She stopped and waited for me to pick her up. Now I know a lot about animal behavior. I knew she would be scared of the road as we approached it, and scared of the car, so I buried her head in my elbow and I scruffed her like it was a matter of life and death. I got her into the car, made sure that everything was closed in the car and we went back home. I was so happy to have her back that i skipped the wholeday of school just to be with her. After I got her back I converted the entire upstairs into the cat sanctuary. I never ever let anyone even think about going outside again. And I promised them all that I would make sure they were never ignored or forgotten again, and I got a new roommate.
It has been 19 years since I met Belle. She was always a very laid back, affectionate cat. She never argued, she never bullied, but she would never let you medicate her. In the 20 plus years of me caring for animals I have never seen a more reluctant patient. In the last years of her life she had kidney disease. She refused every kind of kidney diet, every single damned pill, (she would fight to the point of bleeding, there was no getting used to the pilling, and no giving into my perseverance), and every supplement. I tried liquids, gels, topical, I tried everything. She won every time. She was also the one cat who always made sure that she had the most comfortable bed in the house.
She was my very constant companion, my always happy to see me pet, and had the loudest most endearing purr. She also had the most beautiful array of orange, white, and brown long fur. She wasn’t one of those diluted, over mixed torties. She had big, bold, blocks of color. She was beautiful and regal, and today I had to say goodbye to her. I will miss her very much and I can't imagine there could ever be a more beautiful creature.
As one chapter ends I say "hello" to another. It is the way that I have learned to move past the grief. Taking care of a beloved pet is a gift that has a short fleeting span of time. I tell my pets everyday how much I love them and how grateful I am to have them share this life with me, and how lucky I am to watch them grow.  With a heavy sad heart I say Goodbye.

I say goodbye to Belle and I say hello to Wren.

She is my new chapter and it is amazing to see how much she loves life.

Meet Wren

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