Mama came into my life in the fall of 1998. She was a stray cat who took refuge in a basket of clean clothes in my parent’s basement. One of the basement windows had been left open and so she made her way inside and made herself at home. We quickly realized that she was pregnant and looking for a safe place to bring her kittens into the world. As soon as her kittens were born, we named her Mama because she was the world’s best parent. The mice population in central New York plummeted for a short time while Mama was caring for her little ones. My parents were able to find homes for each of Mama’s kittens, but she wasn’t getting along with their cats and so they needed to find a home for her too. I was living in NYC at the time and getting ready to move to San Francisco with my sister. We had wanted a cat for awhile and our new place in San Francisco was big so we happily brought her with us.
Mama lived with me in San Francisco for eight years. During that time we learned a lot about each other. She wasn’t your average cat. Everyone who visited always said that she acted more like a dog than a cat. She craved attention and greeted each of our house guests by running to the door and saying hello. She sat on the lap of strangers, and was in the middle of the room even when we threw parties …music pumping, dancing bodies all around. Mama loved it.
Mama was sugar AND spice. She loved to cuddle and sleep with me at night. She was big and fat and soft as a bunny. I’ll never forget the wonderful way she smelled and how wonderful it felt to bury my face into her body and snuggle with her. On the flip side she was strong willed and defiant. I told her to stay off of the kitchen table and counters for 12 years and for 12 years she got up on them whenever she wanted. She wanted to do what SHE wanted to do. “Oh, you’d rather that I not settle in on your clean sweater right before you put it on, well then that’s where I’m going to take a nap. You’d like me to stop scratching your furniture, well I’m a cat and that’s asking too much.”
During my time with Mama I moved in with my future husband, moved to Colorado, got married, adopted a dog, and had a little boy. Mama was my constant through all of these major milestones. She was always there: running to greet me when I came home, sitting on my lap while I watched TV at night, jumping into the tub after I showered, following me around the house, and getting into trouble. I loved her and I know that she loved me.
In December Mama was diagnosed with squaimos cell carcinoma. She was 12 years old. The vet said that it was very aggressive and that other pet owners who chose surgery for their furry friends regretted their decision. We opted to forgo surgery and to give our girl all of the love that we could for the remainder of her life.
The cancer came on like a freight train. Within no time she stopped eating, and then stopped drinking. I knew it was time to let her go.
I said good bye to my girl Mama on January 11, 2011. I held her in my arms, told her I loved her, and thanked her for being my friend for the past 12 years. The decision to put her down was an easy one. I could not let her suffer one minute longer. Letting her go has been terribly difficult. I miss her and I know that I always will. She was a special soul who touched my life in many ways. I’ll never forget her waddle, the sound her soft paws made as they clicked across the kitchen floor, how loud she snored, how she bossed the dog around, how clean and comforting she smelled, and how she oozed personality from every pore.
Rest in peace my sweet girl. I’ll love and miss you always.