We loved our prima donna, and we’ll miss her terribly.

I’d never played poker before Brenda’s party, but it wasn’t the cards I remembered when I left. It was the cat. The improbably-named “Flurffy” associated me with a previous tall, curly-haired owner and spent more time on my lap than I spent on cards.

When Brenda got pregnant and wanted to downsize her number of pets, she turned to Flurrfy’s original adopter, Jason Quigley, but his allergic wife and young daughter were reasons why Brenda had Flurrfy instead.

Quigley and Brenda turned to us.

We considered with some trepidation. As much as we love cats, we had all wanted: Two of them, hand-picked after lots of deliberation. One from kittenhood; the other from Independent Animal Rescue. Both have impeccable veterinary records and we know their history.

Nonetheless, memories of a sweetheart with an adorable tabby face convinced me that Flurrfy would be a wonderful addition to the family.

It may seem minor, but the jump from two cats to three seemed like a leap from household to zoo: The other two get along and had been trained on our all household rules. Flurrfy understood the rules, but insisted they did not apply to her. The others, after all, were cats; Flurrfy would tell you that she’s people.

Despite acclimating the other cats to each other, Flurrfy never got along with Rosie…they fought to the end, attacking with growls and claws several times a week. Petting the other cats prompted jealous glares.

Though Flurrfy was challenging, her disposition was sweet. She was the only cat we could honest-to-God hug, holding to our chest. Most felines will squirm to get down; Flurrfy would climb your shoulder to get higher, purring like tiny generator. Sometimes she would stand atop the sofa to prompt us to pick her up. She loved pillows and blankets, burrowing several layers into any bed available until you couldn’t even see her gray head.

She was also highly intelligent, our first cat who could open kitchen cabinets and — we maintain — taught the others how.

Flurrfy was every visitor’s favorite cat. No shy bone in her body, she loved to meet people and insisted that every newcomer pet her thoroughly. If one seemed disinterested, she found another. She primped and preened, or flopped on the floor upside down, paws curled to generate “AWs” and squeeze every drop of love from the room. Our little prima donna took center stage.

Our biggest challenge was Flurrfy’s health; she hadn’t seen a vet in years and had no records. She occasionally suffered seizures, and as hard at is was to watch her motor functions failing, the terror in her eyes was worse. We’d reassure and pet her until she recovered, looking up with relief and — we’d like to believe — gratitude.

She sometimes coughed up a thin stream of mucus, but gradually realized we didn’t want it on the carpet. When she had to cough up, she started to give a low cry, warning us to rush her to tile, or perhaps just asking for help and comfort.

The vet discovered a heart murmur and Flurrfy went on medication. We paid for all the tests we could afford, but others were advised, beyond our means and with guarantees that even greater expenses would follow. I discussed her health conditions with a previous owner, but his circumstances were no better than mine.

The best we could do for Flurrfy was pay for the treatments we could afford and provide a home that was happy, safe and warm. She was horrifically overweight when we adopted her, so we carefully dieted her to a healthy size. She had problems but seemed stable.

Nonetheless, our greatest fear was realized this evening. It’s easy to see why we use so many euphemisms for death: “Gone,” “lost,” or “departed.” Death is undignified despite our best efforts. Though we all lose pets, I hope you never have the misfortune to find one “departed” in your home. The heart hasn’t the fortitude for so crushing a blow. It’s also unfair that grief take a backseat to the logistics of the situation.

For her final resting place, Flurrfy chose the foot of her mommy’s chair, the place she sat for hours while Megan was gaming.

We miss you, Flurrfy. More than words, pictures and tears can express. Go purr on God’s shoulder now, or if you should choose, join us in another life…hopefully a happier, healthier one. I wish I had treated you better. We both wish we had done more for you.

Things are better for you now. But not for us.

Jason R. Peters
3:19 AM, December 1, 2011
Durham, North Carolina 

 

 

 

 

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