Cobweb is gone. I am still trying very hard to remember that it was a mercy, that she was barely able to move around in the last few days, but it's very hard. So, instead I'll remember her life and the joy and happiness that she brought into my life for 13 years.
She was the cat that welcomed me into the family. When I was still very early in my relationship with Kimberly, we were at her house one day, standing by her ancient Mac, and Cobweb came up to me. Kimberly had previously said that she was a cat who didn't like being picked up by strangers, but we'd seen each other a few times by then. So I very carefully leaned down, and very, very carefully -- like I was picking up antique china -- lifted her into the air. And she looked at me and looked at her mommy, and didn't struggle at all. And so we became friends.
Still, she was Kimberly's cat, first and always. Though Cobweb appreciated me, Kimberly was always her first choice, especially to lay on when we were watching TV.
She was the cat who loved to read with me. I usually read for an hour or more before bedtime, to try and lull my mind toward sleep, and for years I did that while sitting on our bed. For a long time, Cobweb would listen for me settling into the bed, and then she'd hurry into the bedroom, leap up on the bed, and lie down against me, purring. Our routines changed when we last rearranged the house, but when it became obvious that Cobweb was doing worse several weeks ago, I moved my nighttime reading to the bedroom again. Though I had to carry her to the bed, as her legs had gotten weak, until this last couple of weeks, she was still loving my company and rushing over to flop down against me, like she used to.
She was the cat who moused. Not real mice, but her toy mouse. She'd pick it up in her mouth, usually a few minutes after we went to bed, and she'd start going MROW! MROW! MROW! We'd shout, "Good cat!" and then we'd hear the mouse thump to the ground. I never understood what messages we might be passing, but they always seemed to content her, whatever they were.
She was the cat who defended our house. In North Berkeley she constantly threw herself at the siding glass door, trying to kill a cat outside that we dubbed Nemesis. Nemesis would usually lounge about and look unconcerned at the cat violently trying to assault him from just a few feet away. Here in our house, we sometimes have cats visit our garage and look into our living room from the window in that direction. To defend our house here, Cobweb would leap up on the cat tree right next to that window, and throw herself at that window. She'd sometimes wake us in the middle of the night doing so ("THUMP!", "THUMP!", "THUMP!", again and again), and I was afraid she was going to knock the window out of frame. I finally taped up two pieces of paper on the window to block Cobweb's view. On them I wrote "Bad" and "Cat". They stayed up for a month or two and after I finally took them down, the window attacks mostly ended.
She was the cat who loved her sisters. For years and years she could often be found curled up with her sibling, Munchkin. She was always the most felinely social of our cats, the one who initiated bathing with Munchkin and Lucy alike. And she'd keep going and going and going until the other cat got sick of it, at which point the bathing usually turned to (light) fighting.
She was the cat who loved to climb. I'd all but forgotten about that in her dotage, but when we looked at pictures of Cobweb these last few days, I was reminded that in her younger years she'd happily jump up on shelves when we made routes for her to traverse.
She was the cat who loved boxes and bags and bookshelves and anywhere else that she could squeeze her self into and lay down. She drove me crazy for ages dumping out my paper recycling so that she could lie in that bag, eventually causing me to get plastic bins for us to use instead. As recently as last week she was still dumping books off our bookshelves to lie in between them. A couple of years ago I broke down, cleared a place on the bookshelves for her to lie, and put a box there with one of my old shirts. It took her months to ever have interest in that -- not until we rearranged where the bookshelves were -- but suddenly it became a regular lying place. It was where she was lying this morning, before we took her to the vet (though the box had been replaced by a towel).
She was the cat who rested her head. She loved to find pillows to put her head on while she was lying down. Sometimes it was the edge of a box (we even covered the edges of a box with towels in order to help her!) Sometimes it was a fold of blanket. Sometimes it was a sister. Sometimes it was my arm, which made it harder to turn the pages of a book.
She was the cat who dreamed. She'd be fast asleep -- usually in a box, but sometimes on a chair or Kimberly's old papasan -- and suddenly she'd jump up, going MROW! and running to whomever was in the room with her. She then needed reassurances before she calmed down. We always figured that she was having bad dreams ("And I looked around the house ... and no one one was there ... and I couldn't find my mommy or my daddy ... and then I looked at my food dish, and there were predators there because I hadn't buried it ...") and that she needed her people to tell her it was just a dream.
She was, indeed, the cat who buried. Food, refuse, whatever. She'd scratch and scratch and scratch, somehow sure that she could THIS time get through the floor and bury whatever the dangerously smelly object was. "Stop it!" we'd shout at her many a times over the years. But she always alerted us to the fact that there was something that we should clean.
She was the cat who was strong and defiant. She'd leap five feet when we gave her flea treatments. The first time we tried to give her subcutaneous fluids, she leapt right out of Kimberly's hands, leaving behind a huge hank of hair. She was tough to pill too. But whenever we were done with whatever treatment we were trying, she'd just look up at us with her beatific eyes, and wait for the treat that she knew would follow.
She was the cat who looked up at me, right into my face, when it was treating time, and you could see the joie de vivre there, the raw pleasure and love and hope that she was experiencing.
She was the cat with the Hope Box, which sat right between the fireplace and the hallway to our kitchen. In the olden days, before we had to pill and fluid her every night, she'd go there while we were eating our snack. She'd sit there, upright and alert, waiting for us to move toward the kitchen, when she knew tasty food would follow.
She was the cat who loved human food too. If I was ever eating french fries or chips, she'd beg for them, and she'd get a bite of french fry or a tiny little corner of a chip for her trouble. Ever after she was sick in late 2009, she became a vulture at mealtime, sitting on the arm of the couch near Kimberly and leaning further and further in. She especially liked things with tomato sauce and things with dairy, though she didn't get any of those! One day Kimberly read that cats liked corn cobs, and so she offered one to Cobweb the next time she ate at KFC. Sure enough, Cobweb would pick it up in her mouth and drop it, pick it up and drop it, again and again.
She was the handsome cat, who loved to watch herself in the mirror. Over the years, we had old ratty mirrors out and kept mirrors near the ground, just because we knew that she'd find enjoyment at staring into them. Did she see herself? Another cat? Something she couldn't understand? I dunno, but she found it fascinating.
She was the miracle cat, who was supposed to die two and a half years ago of cancer, but kept going and going. She was the cat who laid down to die, but then got up 24 hours later, had a long drink of water from a mug (forbidden mug!) and then kept on. She made her decade and a half. Then two more. She beat out kidney failure for a year. We kept her going, yes, but only because she was strong and stubborn herself.
She was the smart cat. The cat who would look up and mew when you came into the room (sometimes) or when you said her name (almost always). The cat who listened for her name, even when we weren't speaking in the cat voice. The cat who knew that doorknobs had something to do with doors opening, but she wasn't quite sure what. The cat who came first when I whistled. The cat we had to trick when we were giving her fluids, distracting her with singing one day, then talking the next, then not doing anything at all the day after that -- all so that she wouldn't get tense about the oncoming needle.
She was a beloved cat and a loving cat and I'll miss her dearly.
In the last years, especially in the last year, and particularly in the last month, she was diminished. She was sometimes afraid of us, due to all the pilling. She wasn't a climber any more, and slowly withdrew from her sisters and from us. I hope that in the years to come I'm able to again remember the cat who was, the cat who had a wonderful and loving and fulfilling life, and not just how things became hard in her last days.
And I'm very thankful that we got Lucy five years (!) gone now, because in her we'll always see little bits of Cobweb too, remembering how they bathed and how Cobweb touched not just our lives, but hers as well.
I posted a small montage of Cobweb pictures yesterday. Kimberly posted a more extensive set of pictures, complete with comments.