It was back in June 2011 when I first wrote about Felina falling. The vet thought it was arthritis. Hoping to ease her soreness, I bought her a heated bed. She was 15 then and now she is 16. But it feels like just yesterday that we brought her home.
That was October 1995, and John and I drove his stinky 12-year old Honda CRX to Purr-Suasions specialty cat store in Scottsdale. We were broke graduate students and we meant to buy a black Cornish Rex who was half price because he only had half a tail. It was my 25th birthday, a rare drizzle pinging the windshield. The wipers didn’t work. When we got to the store, the first thing I saw was a tiny seal point Cornish Rex kitty and the first thing I heard was her screaming Now!
“She wants me to take her home Now!” I said to John.
A woman with hair to her hips came out from the back room and said, “Isn’t she a sweet thing?”
“Too sweet for words,” I said, stealing a glance at John, who looked sticker-shocked as he scratched his red beard.
“Have you been here before?” the round woman asked. As she moved from behind some boxes I noticed the writing on her baggy sweatshirt: My cat walks all over me.
“No. I called yesterday about the Cornish Rex kitties. We don’t have a lot of money. I’m so allergic but I’m just desperate to have a pet. We read on the Internet. . . .”
“Oh, that was me you talked to. Yes, this breed is better for folks with allergies, but not perfect.” She approached the crate where the whiskered girl repeated Now! Now! “But you were interested in the boy, right? Half price?”
I looked towards the bright blue eyes, the four dark paws, the dark nose, the soft curly fur. This kitty looked like she had stood up to her knees in a vat of chocolate, then rubbed her face. Only her torso was beige. Kitty climbed the carpeted tree, saying Now! Now! She was small enough to fit in a teacup, but her white teeth glowed.
The woman watched my gaze. “She’s a real sweetheart that’s for sure. She’s about 8 weeks old. Do you want to hold her?”
I looked at John.
“If it will make you happy,” he said. He adjusted his glasses and tugged a little at the bottom of his green Pogues T-shirt.
She opened the door, pulled out the little kitten, and placed her in my outstretched hands. Kitty continued her Now! Now! theme. Then she climbed up the front of my shirt and onto my shoulder, turned around, and draped her delicate paws over my clavicle, her long dark tail sweeping my back.
“That’s a strange place for a cat,” John said, his vibrant eyes curious.
Sweatshirt said, “Rexes are very special. They love to climb, they love to talk, and sometimes they seem like dogs. When the bell rings my Rexes beat me to the front door.” She nodded in my direction. “You two look very sweet together.”
I looked down at kitty’s dark paws. I rubbed her soft, curly neck fur with my nose. When I looked away she started nibbling my ear. I gave John the I know we don’t have any money but this is making me so happy look. He did not need to be convinced.
“She likes you,” Sweatshirt said. “We still have the boy kitty with half a tail but I can’t send him home since he still has ringworm. Might be another 3 weeks.”
I shot John a serious glance.
“If it will make you happy,” he said.
On the drive home, the kitten, not yet named, spent much of her time on the top of John’s head, which made it hard for him to drive but not impossible. He was wearing a black Oriole’s cap, and her paw dipped down towards the orange bird as if she would like to catch it, Now! We had not planned on coming home with a kitty, so we stopped at a pet store to pick up a litter box, some food, and some fuzzy mice toys.
When we arrived back at the condo on Rural Road, we passed the pool where the snowbirds from South Dakota were readying the patio for cocktail hour. The drizzle had given way to sun, so it was Bloody Mary time. Normally, John and I would have joined them, but on this day we rushed up the flight of stairs to our door. John fussed with the key, opened the lock, and I put kitty on the carpet, where she started sniffing and saying Now! Now!
“I think she wants food,” John said, kicking off his worn Birkenstocks.
We took the supplies to the kitchen and readied her bowls: kibble in one, water in the other. Kitten sniffed around and said, Now! Now! John looked perplexed.
“I think she wants a name,” I said.
“Oh,” John replied. “Any ideas?”
We went through a series of guesses, but kitten did not even sniff in our direction. I started to feel I did not deserve a kitty if I could not even guess her name. In the living room, she sniffed the edges of the rose-colored hand-me-down sofa, giving a hearty Now! Now!
“Let’s start dinner,” I said. “It will come to us.” I pulled open the refrigerator to gather ingredients for our meal. We were making John’s favorite, Carolina Blonde’s. While I grabbed bowls from the bottom cabinet, John chose some music, our nightly ritual.
I sliced sweet potatoes, covered them in Old Bay, and slid them into the oven. I heard the first few lines of Marty Robbin’s Down in the West Texas Town of El Paso as I put two chicken breasts in a pot of water and turned them on high heat.
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
John came into the kitchen and in another pot he added apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, Catsup, crushed black pepper, minced onion, brown sugar, and hot sauce.
In a large bowl I put some shredded carrots and cabbage, added some low-fat mayonnaise, celery seeds, and salt and pepper.
Nighttime would find me in Rosa’s cantina.
John heard a noise and went to investigate. Soon he yelled, “Trish, you gotta see this.”
When I turned the corner into the living room I was surprised to see this little four-pound kitty fly off the arm of the sofa, onto the carpet, around the back of the sofa, over its top, and back over its arm. I looked at John, “Is there a mouse?”
Kitty continued to launch herself from the couch, zip around, and fly back up. John and I puzzled at each other as the delicate kitty wound her way around the couch yet again.
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
“That’s it!” I shouted. “She just told us her name!”
Little Felina made one more pass over the couch, then crouched on its arm, panting like a terrier. Now! she said, confirming that her name had been found. I sat and snuggled with her for a moment, while John went to shred the chicken and put the wheat buns on plates. When he came back into the living room, Felina had fallen asleep on my lap, curled up like a chocolate dipped bug.
So now what do I do? It’s 16 years later. Last week Felina fell like a slinky down a whole flight of stairs. I ran from across the house to catch her. When I took her in, the vet put her on the floor and we watched her stumble like a three-sheets drunk. Then the vet picked her up and held her over the exam table. Instead of bending her knees as should have been the reflex, Felina extended her back legs straight out. That’s when the vet looked at me and said, “This might not be pain. This might be a brain tumor.”
Now I don’t know what to do. I have to keep her confined to a room where she can’t hurt herself, which means I can’t keep her with me. She’s eating and drinking just fine. Using her box. But she can’t walk more than a few steps. She certainly can’t whirl. A few people have told me I will know when it’s time. But maybe I won’t know. Maybe I need Felina to tell me.