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A catless perfume blogger now.

IMG_1423So Monday was my kitty Harley’s last day. She had battled kidney disease bravely for many years and had had a tough few months. But the good grace with which she accepted her daily injections of subcutaneous fluid was just one example of how constantly she made things easier on me, and I’m glad in the end we were able to make things a little easier on her. She was down to 4 lbs 12 oz – hard to remember at one point she had been 12 pounds and people referred to her as “footstool-like”!

Harley came to me at age 4 from the Northeast Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter in Salem, MA. Like many New England cats, she was polydactyl, with two extra toes on each foot. However, she never showed signs of learning how to operate a doorknob, a computer, or a pull-tab can.

She lived with me for thirteen years, through many tough life changes, two moves, and a year unemployed during which I wrote a lot (to which writing she contributed by being draped across my left arm while I typed). I directly attribute to her the completion of a screenplay that got second place in the Nicholl Fellowship, my one published fiction credit, and a published academic paper. Because it’s tough to move around a lot with a very heavy cat on your arm.

She was for many years the only person around for me to talk to. But she accepted the additional of my beloved to our house with very good cheer. Though originally she wanted to retain her right to prime seating on the couch, she soon gave it up in favor of my happiness – and the right to sleep next to my husband’s (very warm) feet.

2011-11-26_10-25-08_526Harley was a great car cat, and was happy to drive to my mother’s to get spoiled while I was away on job interviews, or to take vacation at my brother’s house. She and I mastered the art of the cat visit to a motel (there are more pet-friendly hotels than you might think). Eventually I realized that she was a vampire kitty, because when the sun was coming up, no matter where we were, she required a sun-free hiding place in which to ride out the transition. She explained this to me at great volume and it was me that was slow to catch on (mostly because it was very early in the morning when she was trying to explain this). We also flew together, and the security staff of airports pronounced her gorgeous – which of course she was.

While never a big fan of toys she had a great love of string, but only when its ends were dragged around in an interesting fashion. She also loved to watch birds, and I think cherished the idea that she might one day catch one, even though that was patently absurd because she refused to go outside.

She loved chicken with a refreshing purity of focus. Turkey was not acceptable, nor either was duck. Beef was right out. Chicken was what she liked, and chicken (in various health-appropriate forms) was what she got. In her entire life she never jumped up on a table or a counter she was not supposed to, and she never stole food that wasn’t left on the floor. She did, however, prefer stolen water over water provided to her in cat dishes or fountains, and would occasionally complain if there were no glasses of water on the nightstands in the bedroom for her to pilfer from.

She did not like music, loud noises, or for me to cry. The older she got, and the more she realized that she was monarch in her own home, the more equanimity with which she accepted strangers, but she was never outgoing. A quiet kitty, her idea of a perfect weekend was sitting on the couch with me typing on my computer keys, listening to the birds in the trees, and falling asleep until she faceplanted right into the upholstery. Me too, Harleycat. Me too.

Harley’s very excellent health care was provided by Catnip & Carrots Veterinary in New Hyde Park. She is survived by myself and my husband, her catgodmother in Boston, and a small turtle who just doesn’t give a damn. She was accepting in the face of necessity, a good judge of character, and a true and loyal friend. She is very much, and will always be, missed.2004_0125_151356AA

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15 comments to A catless perfume blogger now.

  • Meg

    I am so, so sorry to read this. What a good life you had together– you and Harley both were blessed.

  • Joy

    So sorry. This was a beautiful tribute to your sweet cat.

  • Ari

    This is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry. I emailed you. She’s so gorgeous in these pictures.

    • Judith

      Thank you! Isn’t she beautiful? I admit to taking enormous vain pleasure in her beauty! Everyone who saw her commented on her green eyes and her gorgeous huge whiskers.

  • Oh, I’m so sorry. She was a lovely cat and I really enjoyed reading about her.

    And what is it with New England cats and glasses of water? I had a Maine Coon in New Zealand, and no glass of water was safe. After my Maine Coon died, I had a dream that felt like a glimpse of a Maine Coon afterlife, if there is such a thing. And they leave shimmering glasses of water on the counters there. If the dream is true, I’m sure there’s one for Harley.

    • Judith

      What a lovely thought! I am really hoping that Harley and I meet again in another life – it really felt as though we had met before. But wherever she is waiting for me I hope she has beautiful shimmering glasses of cold water. (Something genetic about looking for fresh water in small ponds?)

  • Farouche

    So sorry for your loss. Our animal companions are family, and their loss affects us as such.

  • Dear Judith, I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that time of the accute pain will go by faster and leave you with just many happy memories of Harley.

    • Judith

      Thank you! She gave me tons of happy memories, fortunately, and I’m glad I didn’t let her suffer more at the end. It’s an unfortunate reminder of losing my mother, but (sadly, but for the better,) I know what to do now when I lose a family member. And I know so many people know just how I feel and are giving me their kind sympathy.

  • KJourneay

    Oh Judith, I am so sorry that Harley is gone. She was a sweet small kitty with a personality far larger than her fur radius.

    • Judith

      You are a dear. I think her personality was largely just as an expression of the time we spent together, since she didn’t really express much of it to people who weren’t me. (As Hol said when we were discussing diagnosing how much the arthritis was affecting Harley, “That cat is basically sessile.”) But as a true calico she bonded with me as her human and we meant a lot to each other. I’m glad I was able to keep the promise I made to her never to abandon her the way her original family had done. (I hate that they left her at that shelter but think I made it up to her with a life full of affection and care for 13 years!)

  • Heh. Well, I certainly got a lot of her personality through you. Good thing she had such a talented writer as her human.

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