Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ode to a very sweet cat

Tomorrow is going to be six months without Hypatia. Honestly every time the 28th of the month rolls around I feel like crawling under the covers and hiding until it's over. I miss her like crazy every day but the anniversaries are especially rough. I've spent a lot of time here in the past talking about her health issues, and generally saying what a lovely cat she was, but I never really went into much detail about why she was (and is) so special to me. So I want to do that today.

This is my all-time favorite photo of her. It wasn't the best lighting or the best *photo* but it captured her so well. This is the most accurate picture, how she looked at me all the time. With those massively large kohl-rimmed eyes and that sweet sad little expression. And I love how her fur was the same color as our carpet. It's like our house is covered in a layer of Hypatia fur :)

One of my favorite things she used to do was cover her cat food can with anything laying on the floor. During the night I'd usually toss tissues on the floor and clean them up in the morning. When I'd wake up, they'd usually ALL be covering her food. Once I had ordered take-out and temporarily tossed the big white paper bag it arrived in on the floor, only to have her jump over and try dragging it onto her food. It breaks my heart a little each morning when I clean up and there are no tissues on the cat food anymore..

One of our family nicknames for her was "Gandhi-patia" because she was such a peaceful cat. If anyone in the house was crying or yelling, she'd be there in an instant gently meowing and begging for you to calm down.

And whenever I was sick, she'd stay by my side constantly. If I'm not feeling well I usually sleep on the couch in the living room instead of my bed, and without fail she'd leave her own little cat bed and sleep on the arm of the couch with me until I was better. That started the week that we got her! I was recovering from surgery and she kept me company the entire time.

She was an incredibly gentle cat. Even everyone at the vet's office loved her to pieces. She was a regular visitor there and when the time came to say goodbye even the technicians and my vet seemed almost as upset as my family. She was a regular visitor there and they were always so happy to see her. She never put up a fuss about getting poked and prodded and was always up for some cuddling! When all was said and done, though, she'd start burrowing her head into the side of her cat carrier until we let her inside :)

She had this habit of kneading (when cats flex their paws in one spot for a while) on me for the LONGEST time.. she'd be sitting on my stomach kneading for 20-30 minutes.. and then hop off and get cozy next to me instead. Every time I'd think "this time she's going to get cozy on me!" but she'd always jump off. She'd usually face me and stare into my eyes the entire time like an intense staring contest.

For a while, before she got really sick, she used to brush my hair every morning with her paws. I'd wake up and she'd be right next to me on the pillow gliding her paws through my hair. On the days she didn't do that, she'd usually edge me off my pillow until she had the whole thing to nap on herself.

I'm actually allergic to cats and initially I didn't let any of mine sleep on my bed. But Hypatia obviously changed all that. I loved waking up every morning and seeing this adorable face staring back at me. She was always in bed when I went to sleep and when I woke up, though I'm pretty sure she roamed around a little at night (hence those tissues on the food!)

When I woke up, I'd go over to my computer and check my emails before breakfast. She'd always walk down to the foot of my bed and get cozy right behind my chair until it was time to go to the kitchen. And after breakfast she'd trot along after me back to my room to work. If I was downstairs and she was ready to go back up, she'd stand in front of the stairs and keep looking back at me like "can we go upstairs now, mom??"

If I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she'd always wake up and follow me for a drink of water from the sink. In the last year or so I started feeling guilty since she was getting frailer and I didn't want her to have to run after me, so I'd bolt to the bathroom and get back in bed as fast as humanly possible, hoping not to wake her. It hardly ever worked, she apparently had a "follow Kate" alert system built into her brain!

During the day she'd ask for water a lot, though. She'd usually stand in front of the bathroom sink meowing until I heard her cries, then I'd come and scoop her up onto the counter and turn on the water. I'd stand there and wait for her to finish because as soon as I'd leave the room she'd want to follow me!

She followed me everywhere. One of her other nicknames (I think I've mentioned this one before) was "shadow." Even if I had to go up and down the stairs five times in a row, she'd trail after me.. up and down, up and down, up and down.

She didn't play too much in the last year, but even after she got sick she LOVED playing with mice on my bed. I'd throw one and she'd run around in circles, then land on the mouse and pretend nothing had happened. She also loved when I changed my sheets! She'd attack the corners as I was trying to put them on the bed, and then run underneath the covers. When she was still a newbie in our house her favorite game was chasing a piece of string around in a circle. She could go forever, we'd only stop when our arms got tired!

It's weird, but I actually really miss taking care of her. She required so much extra love and attention, and all of my cats now (knock on wood) are pretty good on their own. I miss giving her her daily medicine, cleaning her mouth, lifting her onto high surfaces, taking her on our outings to the vet and the groomers, brushing her fur, giving her little kitty nose drops... I always used to joke that she was my "Sprinkles" (Angela's special needs cat from The Office) but I guess she really was. I miss having a cat that needed me as much as I needed her. I think people who have companion animals understand that certain look -- not all of them give it.

But Hypatia gave me this look. It was a look of belonging to each other, that she knew she could depend on me for everything, that she loved me and knew I loved her. The day that I had to say goodbye I was holding her in the vet's office while the sleeping medicine kicked in, and she started having a sneezing fit. It was a classic Hypatia move and she actually made me laugh a little despite how painful it all was. Then she gave me the look one last time, and closed her eyes.

I miss her with all my heart.