This is my cat, Bessie. Although I use the term “my cat” she doesn’t really belong to anyone but herself. Bessie is 12 years old and recently I was told by the vet that I should take her home and love her for as long as she lasts. Who can ever say when the “time” is but I’m told she is borrowing it right now.
Bessie came to me 12 years ago in May with 5 of her siblings in a box. A friend who had been working in a junk yard happened to have a niggling feeling and opened up a dresser drawer moments before it was to be crushed, only to find a small , noisy, wriggling bag of kittens. They couldn’t have been too old, because their eyes weren’t even open yet. Knowing I’m a sucker for anything that’s a baby, lost, orphaned or otherwise in need, he brought me this little bundle. I had NO idea how to take care of tiny kitties, let alone 6 of them.
I called a friend of mine who was a nurse midwife and who owned a small farm to find out what I needed to do. She told me I’d have to feed all 6 of these squirming fuzzballs every two hours for the first week or so, clean them and massage them so that they would release urine (mom cats lick them when they are babies to stimulate release). With the tasks set and the knowledge that I may not be too successful (kitties are hard to keep alive and healthy when they are abandonded that small) I set myself to being a momma cat. Every two hours my daughter and I would wrap little fuzzballs with claws in a dish towel and use an eye dropper to feed them formula. We had as much come out of their noses as went into their tummies. I thought we would drown them for sure, but after losing one kittie the first night (he’d had his tail crushed before we got him so his chances were bleak) we managed to rasie 5 little fluffs.
Our next task was to find our rapidly growing babies a new home. My children networked four of our little fuzzies into new homes when they were ready to go and we were left with one kitten, named Molly. Molly was an adorable calico that followed my daughter around like a puppy might. Soon, the kitties were ready and they each were picked up and taken to their new homes, except for one that had been named, Two Face. Two Face’s prospective new family had found that they were going to have to move and couldn’t keep a new kitten. So the networking went on again and we found Two Face, now renamed Briar Rose, another home. As luck would have it, this new family ALSO changed their minds and said they couldn’t keep Briar Rose either. I took this as a sign and decided I needed to keep my fluffy calico friend with her sister and thus, she was renamed Bessie. Molly the short haired calico and Bessie the fluffy calico, my two English country cats.
Bessie and Molly were a true delight. They played with each other, curled up with the family dog, Butch, and found new nooks and crannies to hide in. You were never sure if you were going to be able to get a tissue from the Kleenex box without finding the two of them curled up and snoozing intertwined inside of it. They came when called, always led my daughter to bed at night and slept in her bed.
Sadly, Molly began to show the signs of illness in late July a few years later. We had taken her to the vet and had bloodwork done to see what the problem was, but it was already too late. After taking the kids to the annual jaunt to the county fair, we came home to find Bessie running around the house meowing loudly. Poor Molly had passed away while we were gone. The vet said she had Feline Leukemia and we couldn’t have done anything for her.
About this time, my daughter was ready to move on in her life, and Bess, who had always favored me as her person, began to spend more and more time following me around and looking for love. She and I have a mutual understanding of one another, and anyone who knows me, knows my cat. She’s me in feline form. Unpredictable, fierce, lovey, fun and distant all at the same time.
Bessie has outlived her sister, the family dog, numerous other kitty strays and is now tolerating the new dog, Piper, who is 3. She’s even filled in when we didn’t have a dog as the protector. One evening she heard noises when someone was trying to break into our shed and she raced from window to window growling, then clawed at my bed and repeated her window growling until I got up and saw the intruders leaving the yard. She has taken care of me when I was sick, is always ready for a cuddle or a nap, waits for me in the front window when I leave and jumps on the screen and meows when I’m outside and out of sight from her. Sometimes I wonder who is the mom and who is the cat!
Now the vet tells me that she has breast cancer and although we did our best to remove all of it, it’s a very aggressive cancer for cats and that I should love her while I can. I love my Bessie and I’m glad that whatever fates brought us together persisted in doing so. She’s my little lion and my tiny tiger and I’ll miss her more than can be imagined when she is gone.