Furry love

Jill in Feministe wrote a beautiful piece called On loving, and losing, little creatures. Naturally, I cried my eyes out, not just because I love cats but because before too long my partner and I will be facing the same decision Jill faced.

We adopted our kitty from the SPCA shelter in Vancouver. Or, as many say, she adopted us. We knew we belonged together right from the start. She had been a stray. The people in the shelter had named her Jewel. We re-christened her Marley, after Bob Marley, but somehow it's nice that she was named Jewel. She has always been precious to us.

She is what is called a Dilute Tortoiseshell, or Blue-and-Cream Tortoiseshell. Most people have seen regular Tortoiseshells, mostly black and orange, and Calico cats, which have white in them as well. Marley is the more muted version, grey and buff and tiny bits of black and white. She has the softest fur of any cat I've ever known. It's like bunny fur. She also has the loudest purr I've ever heard, and she purrs at the drop of a hat.

She's very snuggly. She almost always sleeps with us, usually right in between. She can sit on your lap until your legs fall asleep along with her. She seems to have an infinite capacity to be skritched behind the ears, on top of her head, and under her chin. She loves to be brushed. She will let you know when she wants to be picked up. She will also let you know when she wants belly rubs and for how long. Sadly, she is rather shy around people other than us, so not many people who visit get to see her, although a few have had success at winning her over.

As is our way with pets, we rarely call her Marley. She has had many alternate names over the years. Lately I tend to call her Puddin'. Even though she has lost weight, when she is lying on the floor she still tends to splodge out.

Every once in a while I think of how odd it is that we share our house with this little furry critter. We certainly never did it willingly with the mice that used to get in before all the holes were plugged. But Marley is as much a part of this house as we are. She has lived here almost as long.

We knew when we got her that she would need care. Her kidneys have never been quite up to snuff. We're not sure how old she is, since her age has always been a guess, but we think she's about 14. We've had her on a low-protein diet for quite a while now, recently reduced even more, since she is now definitely in early stage renal failure.

After giving us a bit of a scare that seemed to have to do with a particular kind of food, Marley seems to be relatively stable. We know that won't last forever. We will do what we can for her for as long as we can and as long as she seems to be enjoying her existence. It will be horrible for both of us when we have to let go of her, but we don't want her to be in pain. We will love her until we have to let her go. And then love her memory.

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