Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday catblogging

Lily

This is her. Lily, my favorite cat ever.

I was fifteen when she showed up at our house, a brown tabby kitten with a dulcet meow. She'd come from who knows where, and she trailed the other two family cats, Stray and Basta. Basta was black and white and friendly. Stray was long-haired and extremely territorial; he hissed at Lily the minute he saw her.

My family had owned lots of cats and one dog to boot. But Mom wasn't in the mood for taking the umpteenth stray cat. She told my brother and me to just ignore this new feline. If we didn't feed her or--God forbid--let her in, she'd go away.

You can see where this is going, right?

I'd already named her Lily. A sweet name for a sweet kitten. She wasn't white, of course, but she just looked and sounded like a Lily.

One afternoon, Mom came home and said, "See? I told you the cat would go away if you didn't feed it. And look--no cat!"

My brother and I looked at each other. "Oh. Lily."

"LILY?!?!"

I believe it was my brother who had finally relented and let her into the house. And, of course, she installed herself on Mom's bed. It was settled. Lily became part of our family.

She was a cat with the spirit of a puppy (but without the urge to chew the furniture). She would hop onto my bed for a few minutes of petting before breakfast. She'd approach Christmas guests, searching for a lap. She made a habit of grooming Basta (until he bit her one day). It was impossible not to love her. I decided that no matter what, Lily would always be my favorite cat.

The day came when I left the Hudson Valley for New York City. And there she was, standing in the driveway, looking at me. I picked her up and gave her a goodbye hug. In the studio apartment that was going to be my new home, there would be no room for a cat used to the outdoors. Lily wouldn't be coming with me.

But I didn't forget her. And she didn't forget me. I'd come home to visit and call her name. As soon as she saw me, she'd rush to greet me, meowing.

Of course, she grew older and developed all the expected medical problems. In Lily's case, it was diabetes, and Mom had to give her insulin shots. Lily was as patient and big-hearted as always.

The last time I saw her was in Thanksgiving 1997. My uncle and aunt brought their new infant son to visit. With some trepidation, I brought Lily to meet him. She examined this new tiny human, never flinching and scratching him. And, of course, she curled up on my bed when I was there.

On December 10, 1997, Mom called and said she'd found Lily dead outside, most likely from a heart attack or a seizure.

"Now I don't have my Lily cat," she told me.

The above photo is from the early 1990s, right after I moved to New York. Mom included some photos of Lily with a note: "Just in case you get meow sick."

I still feel a bit of meow sickness when I think of her. Miss you, Lily.

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