Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Chloe's story

14 Years ago, I was staying with my mother after she had surgery to remove her kidney, which had been diagnosed with cancer. (Fortunately, it was self-contained, and she has been cancer free ever since.) I spent a couple of weeks with her during the recovery. At some point, I casually mentioned that I wanted another cat. I already had a very large, affectionate, and possessive adult male Maine Coon, Ripley. Because of his territorial nature, I thought it would be best to get a kitten rather than an adult to lesson the blow. Mom and I "just happened" to be near a local animal shelter and she took me in, just to "look around". They had two large cages full of kittens, and I was quite smitten with a little black male, but in the cage below, there was a tiny black and white female with ridiculously large ears that kept grabbing my skirt. We took her out of the cage, but she was a scrawny, bow-legged thing and she kept holding up one of her paws, as if it were injured. I wasn't overly impressed. Not wanting to make a hasty decision, we left empty-handed. The next day we returned and once again the little black and white girl reached for me. I took her out and this time she held up the other paw and looked even more pathetic. I recognized instantly that she was a little drama queen! I took her home and named her Chloe. Ripley, of course, hated her on sight.

For several years the two of them led a somewhat peaceful life together, but I never really bonded with Chloe because she wasn't very affectionate and didn't like to be held. When I moved in with Mr. Strange, Ripley immediately strutted in and laid claim to every room in the house. Chloe hid under a chair for two weeks. Mr. Strange would lay on the floor and talk to her in a low and encouraging voice. Eventually she came out of hiding, but would only venture to certain parts of the house. Ripley had claimed the couch, the front porch and everything upstairs. What I didn't know about Ripley was that for the 9 years I had him, he had Feline Leukemia and a blood virus that eventually took his life. It was a very traumatic and sudden ending. I missed him so much that in low moments, I wished it had been Chloe instead. Oddly enough, she never caught either of his illnesses.

A strange thing happened after Ripley died. Chloe started to change. She became more vocal and demandingng of our attention. After a while, she ventured upstairs. She will never be a cat that likes to be held (if I hold her too long, she actually says "Noooooo"), but I can put her down and pick her up over and over. In the 7 years since he has been gone, she has blossomed into a totally different cat, and I have grown to love her very much. She is the perfect knitting companion: she doesn't get into my yarn and likes to like stretch out, purring, beside my leg as I knit. Occasionally she will look up at me with hugs in her eyes. Her favorite thing to do is lie on my knitting pattern. How does she know that this makes me nuts? She also likes to lick plastic bags, especially if there's yarn in them.

I received bad news about Chloe's health today. I can't even write about it because I am too upset, but I wanted to say something positive about her because I plan to enjoy every minute we have left.

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