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My kitty cat

I went back and saw that I don't have all that many posts up about Athena. And I feel bad about that, because she was a terribly important kitty cat to me.

The second I walked into Graham's apartment the first time, Athena immediatley latched on to me. She hopped on my lap, as soon as I sat down, and barely left my side that entire trip. She'd insist upon being petted, and she'd paw on my belly or throat or chest. She was a little over ten years old when I met her, but she acted like a kitten in a lot of ways. Graham thinks it is because she was so young when he rescued her as a kitten, and she didn't have much time with her mama. She had this terribly adorable meow that she used pretty incessantly. And she played with my hands with her paws and her mouth when she rolled over and I rubbed on her tummy.

She was also losing her closest companion when I met her. Zeus, her brother, was dying. He had advanced diabetes, and he'd recently lost a lot of weight, and he was having a lot of trouble holding down food. I never really got to know Zeus in his prime, but I'm told he was a magestic cat. Mosterously big, his twenty five pounds dwarfed her rather heafty body. He died shortly after I met him.

And, boy, did she like to talk. Graham blames her Siamese Thai heritage. I think Athena simply had a lot to say. It took me awhile to realize that "meow" was a lot of things. It was "more." It was "I'm hungry." It was "I'm thirsty." It was "I'm annoyed." It was "Change my litter box." But mainly it was "Pay attention to me." And so I did.

Graham described her as a nerf ball on stilts. She was a terribly chubby kitty cat with these little tiny stick legs sticking out underneath, and she had this funny little walk that had to accommodate her bulk. But it worked on her.

She hated riding in the car. The first five or so hours of the road trip from California to Houston, she meowed the whole time. We made a little nest for her out of Graham's pillows, but for the first few hours she couldn't find it, and just sat in the disposable litterbox we got for her and meowed. She later scared the hell out of herself by accidently putting a paw on the window button and rolling down the passenger window on herself. Fortunately, Graham was holding on to her when she did that, so she didn't go flying out into the Arizona highway.

When people asked me if I was nervous about a guy I'd just met at Burning Man, of all places, moving across the country for me after four months, I honestly said "no." But I did have a bit of an apprehension about Athena moving in. It had nothing to do with my personal feelings for cats, but Relampago was on record as being anti-cat. And Crianza had no exposure. I had no idea what my dogs were going to think of having a new cat housemate.

We got to Houston, and the dogs were still at my parents' house, having stayed there while we were in California. Athena got a lay of the land in her new home, and we figured that we'd give her the den for her own space. Immediately upon arriving we had to go to a funeral, and in order to lighten the mood at the post-funeral drinks, my family started putting money down on cat and dogs.

It turned out to be not so bad, though she did lose a little bit of weight from a small hunger strike she went on shortly after moving in. Crianza was obsessed for a few weeks with Athena, and Athena made her self scarce when Relampago got to be too curious. But, within a month or two, Crianza and Athena were sharing the couch, and Relampago ignored her entirely.

We settled into a routine that was inclusive of all the animals. Crianza and Graham particularly bonded, and Athena wound spend every moment that I was seated in my lap. She'd read with me, she'd watch tv with me, she'd knit with me. There were many moments when I had to ask Graham to hand me something because Athena would get pissed off if I shifted her out of the way. She'd meow to tell me what she thought of my moving. And then she'd meow again to tell me how I'd need to shift in order for her to get comfortable. And occassionally, if she was really happy, she'd give me a silent meow. Often during the day, Graham would be surrounded by black furry ones. Crianza on the cushion above him, Athena on his lap, and Relampago on the floor at his feet.

When Relampago died, Athena moved in to the bedroom with us, claiming more covers than the other three in the bed combined. She'd hop in between me and Graham, and often she'd snore. We'd both waken with our asses hanging out of the covers, blaming the other for the crime of cover theft, while Athena dozed on. When I lost Relampago, I told her once that I must love her a lot for my worst nightmare to be her best dream coming true.

She loved the hurricane. Afterwards, I was home for nearly a week, and we kept the front door open while we didn't have electricity. She'd sit in front of the screen door for hours, basking in the wind and watching the world go by. She also would venture outside occasionally, poking around the bushes on the back deck and checking out the foilage. She never ventured too far, and she didn't like being out there alone, which was for the best, as she didnt' have front claws and there are quite a few outdoor cats and raccoons that hang in our general vicinity. Once, when Graham's parents were visiting, we accidently left her outside, and she banged on the back door for nearly an hour insisting that we let her back in.

She didn't really like treats or toys or any other foods other than cat food, and tuna fish. Every now and then I'd offer her dairy, and she'd just ignore it. She moved over to dry food entirely when she moved into the house, and as far as I could tell, that didn't bother her too much. She didn't get involved too much in my knitting, though occassionally she'd swipe at yarn. She did enjoy catnip though. My mom bought her catnip infused mousies for Christmas, and Athena just went ga-ga over them. I'd occassionally bring them out for her to play with and get high.

She was ridiculously soft, and I'd spent literally hours just petting her and telling her how pretty she was. She'd agree wholeheartedly. She had these ridiculously pretty golden eyes, and one of them had a splotch of brown in it. She had a nervous tic that involved scratching her chin and ears to the point that she scabbed them up. I was constantly arguing about that with her when I'd put the neosporin on her face.

She liked people, too. Often, when people would come over, she'd hide for a bit. But then she'd get curious and come over to find out what was going on. She had absolutely no respect for personal space, and she'd hop on random laps without asking permission. Claudia used to object to Athena's propensity to jump on her stomach and knead the belly fat. Athena didn't pay Claudia much attention and would continue to knead.

And she loved, just loved, to annoy the hell out of Graham. When she wasn't meowing at him, she was standing in front of his computer monitor, or arguing with him about who really deserved the mousepad. Or telling him that she wanted to go outside. She loved him so much, and I'm pretty sure that there is no place she would have rather died but in his arms.

We were really proud of her when Celosa came home. She stood her ground against the puppy, swatting at her and hissing when Celosa overextended boundaries. Where she had hidden for a month or so when she moved into the house, this major change in her life she knew that her home was hers to defend. At that point, she'd taken to hanging out on a chair in the living room with Crianza. Crianza would sleep on the chair itself, and Athena would claim the cushion above. They were terribly cute together, and I think they bonded over their frustration with an over-active puppy.

Still, we weren't too alarmed at first when she started losing weight. She'd just been to the vet with a clean bill of health, and we knew that she'd lost some weight when she first moved to Houston. We figured it was stress-related. It got to be a bigger deal around the time that I got sick, and while I was recovering, Athena and I would nap together for hours. She'd fall asleep on my chest, while I was spread out on the couch, and she'd stay with me until I woke up. We both weren't feeling well, and we took comfort in each other's company in our respective illnesses.

When we realized that Athena was really sick, I don't think it really occurred to me that I could lose another beloved pet less than a year after the animal love of my life had left me. I wanted to fight so hard for Athena, and I asked Relampago to help me. Graham called me last Thursday, thinking that maybe we would have to put her down when we took her to the vet for fluids. I screamed inside my head. I couldn't bear the thought of losing another one. When she meowed in the car on the way to the vet, I knew that she still had some fight in her. But soon after coming home she lost the meow again.

On Monday night, I was getting ready for bed, and Graham was in the bathroom. I heared her from the other room, and I said with joy, "Her meow is back." I had been so hopeful, because when we came home from the movie, I noticed that she'd eaten some while we'd been gone. But Graham said "That's not a meow" and we realized that she was yowling in pain, and that she wouldn't last the night.

I really loved that kitty cat quite a bit, and it kills me that I only got a year and a half with her. It's so strange to walk into her room and not have to double check that she's not laying in the black blanket before I sit down on the couch. It's so odd not to hear her insisting on breakfast in the morning. With all the running and barking and chaos that having a puppy in the house brings, there's a life force missing.

I tend not to subscribe to any sort of formal relgion. But I can't help but know in my heart that, I'll be reunited with the animals that have left me.



( 6 comments — Say something )
May. 13th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
*hugs and more hugs*

I wish I had known her. She sounds like a wonderful little lady. I've been working on something for you that I will email you with a little later.

I love you so much, and I'm so glad Athena had you adn Graham to love her so very much.
May. 13th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
That was a beautiful write up,'stina. Thank you. I'm so sorry about your kitty.
May. 14th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
That really was beautiful. What a special kitty. She sounds like a real character.

This is one reason I don't subscribe to the traditional version of Heaven. It's just not Heaven without the animals that have loved us. I know my special kitty Dodger is there waiting for me, along with my Lab Smokey and all the other pet loves I've had.
May. 14th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
That was a lovely tribute to Athena. She was a very lucky kitty to have had Graham and then later you.
May. 14th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC)
May. 14th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Say something )