Shortly after getting our first cat we decided she needed a friend. We went off to a local cat shelter, thinking we'd find a young neutered male, possibly black and white.
We came home with this tiny 2 or 3 yr old ginger female. We're still not entirely sure how that happened.
As we walked through the shelter (it was one big open space filled with cats) we'd stop to pet or chat to this one or that one, as a staff member pointed out the males. But always behind us there was a yowling, an occasional bump to the calf, a small ginger whinger who'd clearly decided we were to be hers.
In the end it was undeniable.
15 years have passed since then, 15 years of her yowling at us, her tiny frame delivering a hefty bump to the kidneys when she wanted to get in under the duvet on cold winter nights. Many years when she was younger, yowling at us from the kitchen sink when she wanted a drink, many months of late of her yowling at me from the laundry room floor when she needed lifting up to her food bowl.
She was a scratcher, ruining our leather sofa, a red velvet covered chair and even trying her luck on my magnificent sofa!! But lately she became unable to retract her claws and I kept finding her, yowling of course, stuck to furniture, blankets, herself.
Afraid of nothing in the world but a rattling plastic bag (she could stare down a salivating bull terrier for a piece of roast chicken but shake a bag in the same room as her and she'd fly), recently she'd started having sudden frights - jumping up, trying to run away, her legs flailing around uncontrollably, for no apparent reason.
She became high maintenance. Two winters ago I swore I couldn't do it anymore - the litter tray on the upstairs balcony which had to come in every time the north wind blew, the loss of bowel control (inexplicably always at dinner time), the furballs ... but yet she clung on, eating and chatting (ie yowling) and sleeping and purring. Still she was our pumpkin Fritta.
But the end came, not too unpleasantly but the signs were clear, and last Friday I took her to the vet and came home without her.
Khoki was waiting in the front courtyard, immediately inquiring about her friend and sniffing the empty box suspiciously. I still hear her now and then, calling upstairs, it still upsets me.
I still think I see, from the corner of my eye, a ginger shadow slip into the room.
I still roll over carefully in the night, so as not to crush the little thing.
I still get tearful when I look at this picture.