Back in June of 1989, when I was 17, I found a skinny black cat with a huge belly wandering around in front of my Mom's house in Yonkers. We already had 2 adult cats - Bunny and Pussycat. This pic is circa 1982-
...but I convinced my Mom to take this cat in and find out what was wrong with it. I named our new cat Morticia. Here's Bunny and Morticia -
Morticia was not very nice at all. The least friendly cat I had ever known, but we adopted her anyway. We now had 3 adult cats.
Days later, on June 30th, 1989 (in fact 4 days after I graduated from high school), this very anti social cat climbed to a high out of the way place in our basement - where she proceeded to spit out 4 kittens! (So that's what was wrong with her, she was pregnant! Duh!).
There were 3 girls, and 1 boy. I named the girls Midnight (very thin and sleek, all black), Calico (the ugliest calico cat you've ever seen- white feet, mostly black with some orange) and a mostly black cat with a tiny white patch under her neck, white between her hind legs and 2 white fingers, named Batty-Boo (I always thought she looked like a bat), which later became Booba.
The girls, like their mother, were not at all cuddly and had a very hideous meow. The boy was my absolute favorite. He was a beautiful, sweet tuxedo cat. I named him Spooky. And he was the one I was going to keep. The girls and their mother were eventually going to go to a shelter. But at this moment, we had 7 cats in our house. (3 adults, 4 kittens) Here is Morticia with her very young kittens in my Mom's basement -
Booba, trying to make her escape -
And I remember taking this shot as Morticia was darting out to retrieve Booba, who was always the worst behaved of the bunch-
Morticia stuck around long enough to nurse and wean her brood, then took them outside to teach them to hunt and kill. But shortly after that, she just abandoned them and returned to life on the street. We were now down to 6 cats - 2 adults, 4 kittens.
Later that summer, my high school boyfriend told me that the stray cat that had been hanging out in his rehearsal space needed a home. The other guys had plans to put him IN THE DRUM while they played it. Are they effing kidding me?! What assholes! I had met this cat and knew he was very sweet. I couldn't let that happen. I convinced my Mom to let me keep him. He was all gray. I named him Smokey. (As some of you know, Smokey went on to be the cat love of my life. I lost him in January 2006, after just moving to Brooklyn and had him buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. I will never love another animal - or human - as much as I love Smokey. I still miss him terribly.) Now we were back up to 7 cats - 2 adults, 5 kittens.
That September, one of my original cats, Bunny, had died. I had that cat since I was 9. Also a stray, from the street, and I absolutely adored her. That cat followed me everywhere for nearly 9 years. She chased dice. She was blind in one eye. She wanted to be with me at all times. She was so sweet and kind - the first real cat that was 'mine'. We buried her in our backyard and were now down to 6 cats - 1 adult, 5 kittens.
That same month, when the kittens were only 3 months old, a friend of mine slept over on our pull out couch in the den. I told him the night before- 'Do NOT fold up that bed in the morning. The cats like to play behind it when it's open.' The next morning when I went downstairs, the bed was folded up. I immediately freaked out and ran around doing a kitty head count. All of the cats and kittens were accounted for except one... SPOOKY! My boy! Frantically, I pulled out the bed and stuck my arm behind/under it. I felt a ball of fur. I screamed, running barefoot, a block or more to find my mother who was out walking her dog. She came home and confirmed the worst- my sweet little man had been crushed. I never, ever forgave that person, and never will. We were now down to 5 cats - 1 adult, 4 kittens.
Months later, in January, my brother told me that he found Midnight (my favorite of the girl kittens) dead on the street. I assume she was run over by a car. I couldn't believe I had just lost 3 cats in 4 months! She was also buried in the backyard, bringing our total down to 4 cats - 1 adult, 3 kittens.
One day in 1994, I realized I hadn't seen Calico in a few days. She and Booba used to go out very often, so this wasn't too unusual. But after a while I was concerned enough to go out looking for her. As I called her name in the backyard, I heard her crying. I followed her cries to the back of our garage and found her. She was a mess. It looked like most of her legs were broken and she was covered in dried up blood. It was pretty horrific. I called my Mom, who came home and took her to the vet to put her to sleep. I assume she had also been hit by a car. Down to 3 cats - 1 adult, 2 kittens.
In the spring of 1995, our big, mean, kick ass, polydactl tabby named Pussycat came home and I noticed something was wrong with him - he couldn't close his mouth and he was drooling. Off he went to the vet, where we found out he had cancer. This was the toughest son of a bitch cat I've ever met. It was sad to see cancer take him. He was only 14 and otherwise healthy. And we were down to 2 cats: Smokey and Booba, who were both 6 years old.
In 1995, I moved out of my Mom's house with my brother. We got an apartment in Yonkers. Smokey and Booba came with us. Smokey and I became closer than ever. He was so loving and gentle and always wanted to be with me, on me or near me. Booba continued to go out to hunt and kill. I very frequently had presents (birds, mice, rats, squirrels- even 2 praying mantis'!) left for me. She also had the charming habit of biting or swiping my face while I slept if she wanted to be fed. This cat was cunning and evil. She was not friendly at all. She didn't want to be pet or held. Just feed her and let her outside.
In 2003, I bought a house with my husband. Smokey and Booba made the move there too. They loved the front and backyard and continued to be indoor/outdoor. Smokey was still my darling little man and preferred to be inside with me. Booba still preferred the outdoors. But that year, when she turned 14, she changed. Out of nowhere, she wanted to be a lap cat. She became affectionate nearly over night. I still don't understand it, but suddenly Smokey had to defend his place on my lap because she wanted to sit on me! It was absolutely baffling to see her transformation.
In December 2005, I moved to Brooklyn. Smokey and Booba moved with me again. Now they were forced to be indoor cats. Surprisingly, this transition was very easy for them. Maybe because they were both 16.
Weeks later, in January 2006, I lost my beloved Smokey. And I was left with the one cat I never wanted in the first place, the one I acquired by default because all the others had died: Booba. I had always feared she would outlive Smokey. And surely just to spite me, she did just that... Cut to today, 3 years after Smokey's death...
I noticed in the last few weeks that she had noticeably slowed down, and her stomach was getting gigantic even though she wasn't eating more than usual. She was having a hard time getting up or down from her sleeping position, having trouble walking, and started missing the litter box and even peed in my bed. I brought her to the vet today and they were unsure of the fluid in her stomach. They would have to drain it, do x rays, and run a battery of lab tests just to find out what was wrong with her and determine if there was any treatment possible. The doctor also told me she had a heart murmur and most likely congestive heart failure. After considering the options and outcomes, I decided to put her to sleep today- On her 19 years and 7 month birthday. It was not as easy as I thought it might be and I've been crying about it all day since. I keep telling myself I did the right thing and even if I could find out what was wrong and give her treatment, she could not have had much time left anyway.
I had that cat since I was 17. I'm now 37. She's lived 4 places with me. She's been with me since I was a teenager, single, married, separated and divorced. She knew me before I had any tattoos. She's been with me through the biggest and most difficult events of my life. And even though she was never my favorite cat, it was not easy to let her go today. But I thought it was the right thing to do.
Good bye, Booba. I hope you understand what I needed to do.
I will forever remember this expression, because this is the only expression she ever had. My ex husband used to describe it as "I'd eat your face if I could":
RIP, old gal. I hope you forgive me.