You gave me The Look / That's all that it tookMarley adopted us in late summer of 2003. She had been in the Vancouver SPCA shelter for several months. She wasn't the only kitty we looked at, but she was the one who won our hearts.
Feed you, brush your fur / Listen to you purr
They told us that she might be a bit shy for up to a week. Instead, she came out of the basement in only a few hours, and that night she hopped up on the bed to sleep with us. Even during her probation period, she knew she was home, and really so did we. Right away, she showed us how loudly and easily she could purr. It was truly delightful.
I know you own this place / Your private sleeping spaceShe had been a stray, which is why she was at the SPCA. The vet we took her to guessed that she was about six years old. We knew only a little about her background, but we could guess at more because of some by her behaviour. We figured she had been an only cat, since she would hiss at cats who came to the back door to visit. We also figured that she had been an indoor cat, since we could not get her to cross the threshold even in a harness. That meant that either she had been abandoned or had somehow got out and become lost. She wasn't going to make that mistake again.
And if I dare disturb / You'll kick me to the curb
She was a beautiful dilute tortoiseshell, "blue and cream" as it's called. Her fur was soft as a bunny's. She was also, well, plump. Quite plump. So Sweetie decided she had been the only pampered kitty of an old lady who fed her bonbons all day. We also thought she might have had a litter at some point.
As is the way with pets, we almost never called her Marley. One of her first nicknames was "bumphead," because that's what she would do—give you head butts when she wanted affection. As well, because of her girth and the particular position of the extra weight, we called her the Pigoon, after the creature in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake that was a cross between a pig and a human and was used to grow organs for transplant. We figured those bulges were actually extra organs. Later, I took to calling her "puddin'." I don't know why, except that she would go all boneless when she was relaxed (as cats do) and could mould herself into any shape.
Not only did she purr easily and loudly. She was generally very affectionate. She wanted to be held only when she asked, but she loved laps, and she responded strongly to being scratched and petted. Sometimes when I would take a nap on top of the covers on a warm afternoon, she would insinuate herself into the crook of my arm and nap with me.
She talked. I mean seriously talked. She had a huge range of vocalizations and rarely just meowed. Her trill was our favourite. That usually happened around being fed. She loved food!
Only the best for you / Nothing less will doWe had known from the start that her renal system might someday be problematic. She lived most of her life quite normally. In 2011, she was diagnosed with early stage renal failure. We made adjustments. Periodically, we would take her to the vet for a "kidney flush," intravenous fluid that would help get her lab numbers back to normal. That helped for a long time. We changed her food, changed litter, gave her pills, made other accommodations. Fortunately, we had pet health insurance. During all that time, she seemed quite as happy as ever. She hated the pills, of course, but she forgave me right away for being the pill giver.
You're worth it everyday / Wouldn't have it any other way
As she got older, she slept more, as is normal. Toward the end, she lost weight to the point where her "pigoon organs" pretty much disappeared. She needed more frequent veterinary care, which she did not like. But when she was home, she was still eating food and behaving fairly normally. That is, until we got back from Portland after our New Year vacation. She went off her food. She became listless. We brought her to the vet, but after three days her lab numbers were still poor.
On Thursday the 10th, we went to see her. We had hoped against hope that we might be able to bring her home one more time and that she would perk up there. But we saw right away that she was in considerable distress. She was barely responsive to us. She was very weak. We asked the vet, and he said if she was his, he would let her go. We knew we needed to do that for her sake. We stayed until the end. I don't think I've ever been through anything more difficult than that.
I live to serve / I'm at your beck and callThe chorus is really just making fun. We took as good care of her as possible out of love. And she repaid all the love and affection we gave her with love and affection in turn. She was a bit of a scaredy cat around most people, but she loved us, she loved her nanny (the woman who came to feed her and take care of her when we were away), and occasionally she came out for other visitors.
It's not enough / You only want it all / You only want it all
She was so much a part of this house, and there is a huge gap in our lives right now where she is missing. It will get better over time, of course, but I imagine there will always be things that will remind us of her, and we will feel pain. But that's part of the territory with having a pet. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Good night, sweet Pigoon. We will love you always.
"Purr" by Véronique Boulanger. © 2012 Véronique Boulanger, SOCAN.