Zoe, I always thought your name was a little unusual
but that it was suitable for a cat who was not the usual kind.
I could not determine if you were strange to me because
of your breed or because of your life experience.
Long of leg, large of body, small in head – your were not
the cat we photographed often. Your stare was unsettling.
I knew you when you belonged to your previous owners,
a beast barely tolerated by some, and you busied yourself
staying out of the way of dogs and scratching leather furniture.
When your claws were removed, and you could not defend yourself
they were afraid to let you outdoors. You were famous for
filling the litter box all too quickly, and making loud noises in the night.
You came to us when others became allergic. We took you
in for love of them and not out of love for you. I don’t
think you loved us. I knew you when you were overweight,
and your hair came out in great clumps. I knew you when
you chewed yourself bloody where the fleas congregated.
You didn’t look at us very often, you didn’t look happy.
But for all your mess, things we had to wash up, scrape off
and deodorize, for all the times when you fought the other
cat and left fur all over the room (you both were gray and we
could not tell who had won), we began to love you. You stopped
eating desperately and became slim. Your fur became soft
and easy to pet. And you watched us differently.
You learned to go through the cat door, to love the outside
and to run to the sound of your automatic feeder. Your favorite
place was on the man where he was soft and warm and you purred.
The man gave you special food and doted on you. You made loud
noises looking for him, often in the night when you were lonely.
I loved that you went outside and no longer used the litter box.
You no longer needed to look out for the other cat (she died)
and you relaxed and all the space became yours. You only ran from
the vacuum cleaner and small children. You and the man became
very much alike, with your routines and the places you camped
out as you watched television and napped. You were all the animal
we had and I guardedly say that we enjoyed you most of the time.
Today, you are gone. I am sad, but especially the man is missing you.
Feeling that you may have had a terrible fright at the end and violence.
We would not have chosen that for you but neither would have had you
be ill and lingering and miserable. As I said, you were never impressive
for your looks and not much photographed. But you were loved and
part of our family, even though your stare was still a bit unsettling.