That Darned Cat

While I have mentioned my wonderful kitty, Carmen, on several occasions, I haven’t yet talked about the first cat that I had as an adult. The main reason I have put off writing about her is because her death was so hard on me. I was with her when the vet permanently eased her suffering. (Thank you, Barbara, for going with me.) I figured it was the least I could do so her last minutes weren’t spent surrounded by strangers. I still cry when I think about it.

But there was so much more to Kiki than her final moments. I think it is finally time to share her memory with the world.

Kiki in Sunbeam

Kiki was a challenging cat to love. She never fully recovered from the mistreatment she received before I got her. For the first six months I had her, she lived under the bed. She only came out for attention when it was dark and I was in bed. But, the older she got, the more loving.

The major turning point in her affection factor was when she went with me to England. That meant spending six months of quarantine. The quarantine law there requires that cats remain in their cages 100% of the time, so they were essentially like dog runs: 3 feet across and about five feet long.

Tammy visiting Kiki in Prison

It took me an hour of public transportation to get to her – including a train and a bus. I made the trip once a week. I was locked in the cage with her for our visit. Fortunately it had a cement ledge at the back where her bed was. I sat there, pulling her onto my lap, and telling her about all the things that had been going on in my life … so she wouldn’t be confused when she was finally sprung from kitty jail.

The ladies that worked there knew my schedule, so they gave her an extra special brushing the day before I came and let her know that I would shortly be there to love on her.

My landlord was wonderful and let me keep living there with her, even with her elephant-like wind sprints in the middle of the night, running up and down the stairs.

I was so surprised when I sprung her that I had a lap cat. She wanted to be on me, just as she had been during her jail time. I joked with friends that if I had known that would be the result, I would have put her in quarantine years earlier!

She was with me during some really rough patches in my life. I’m glad I had that companionship, especially with the older version of her!

Has anyone else ever had a pet that helped them through challenging times? or Why do cats suddenly need to be in the other room?

6 thoughts on “That Darned Cat”

  1. You can’t seriously let me get started on cats…that sudden need to be in the other room thing? Hysterical and creepy all at the same time. Ours do it too!

    Our Cat Three, Marley, sounds a bit like your Kiki. He was one of three left from a large litter of strays who ended up with the kitty foster mom we adopted from. We picked two…even though we hated leaving the last one. But he didn’t engage, wasn’t interested. A month later, though, he was ours. He was not mistreated – part of a stray litter then right to her home and he was well loved there. But his personality is just…different. He’s more nervous than the other two and takes a long time to get interested in a person. When we brought him home, it was months – maybe more like a couple of years – until we saw him really come out of his shell and expose the sweet, affectionate little bugger that he is. Who can ever figure out why an animal (or a person for that matter) is the way they are. But it’s amazing what consistent love and affection will do!

    Loved your story – thanks for sharing it!


    1. You are so right that consistent love and affection will do wonders. That’s why it amazes me how sweet my girl was after kitty prison! I’m so glad she became a lap cat in her old age. I really needed it.

      Marley does sound a lot like Kiki. I’m glad you appreciate him for (and not despite) his qualities that make him him.


  2. We have two cats adopted from the RSPCA. One of them was found abandoned in a sack with her siblings, and their dead mother. It has taken her three years to settle down, and stop panicking whenever a man enters the room (a bit tricky with two men in the house). Just recently she has calmed down enough to let my husband pick her up without her panicking and scratching. It’s extraordinary how long those very early memories must have persisted. It really makes me think about the effect of trauma on humans, if memories are that powerful for cats.
    Thanks for sharing your cat’s life story. I can’t bear to think about the sadness when our cats die. The other one is a wild adventurer, which doesn’t bode well… he was found as a tiny kitten by a farmer, all alone and jauntily marching across a field.


    1. I am such a strong believer in adopting animals from shelters. So glad to hear that you are, too.

      Kiki had a very strong hit and kick reflex. Any time I made a fist, even if just stretching out my forearms, she fled in terror. She also was not fond of men.

      I think you are right about the lasting effects of trauma on kids. We say how resilient they are, yet I don’t see how some early mistreatment doesn’t stick with them.


  3. I loooove cats, and we can’t have one because my husband is allergic. They are so mysterious, which is what I love about them. Plus they can also be great snugglers. I like that they’re not needy, because I’m not either. I often just need to go to the other room. I get that.


    1. I love that you suddenly have a need to be in the other room. I’m a pacer and fidgety – I often feel that way as well.

      I waited so long in between Kiki and my current cat, Carmen, because the guy I started dating shortly after Kiki’s passing was allergic. When he left my life, Carmen entered. May you be without a cat for wonderful still-with-your-loving-husband kind of reasons for a long time.


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