She was the scruffiest looking little cat when I first met her, in the adoption cages at Petsmart. She had a bald spot on her head, and wheezed so badly that the shelter had named her Darth Vader. She chirped at me through the bars, and pressed herself against them so I could pet her.
I went home. We already had cats and dogs in a number best described as many. But I couldn't get her out of my head, and drove back to Petsmart that day. This time, I came home with a tiny black kitten.
I was working on a major project on Dante's Purgatorio at the time, and that poem is full of stars, so I named that black kitten, who had one white star on her throat, Stella. And she was a star. She got healthy, and she got beautiful. A supermodel of cats.
She was smart. Scary smart. She could open doors, and cupboards, and closets, and would put my cat, Sandman, into time-out in my closet on a regular basis. She liked to sleep in cashmere, and would open my sweater boxes and make herself a bed. She liked music, and would turn on my iTunes when I had turned it off.
She loved catnip. And oatmeal.
She slept every night in my arms.
She was very suspicious of people who weren't me, especially in the early part of her life. She did not at all approve of my cat sitters when I went to Clarion, so she broke into the unfinished basement, and moved into the ceiling. I told one of my friends, and he said, "Only you, Kat, would have a cat who thinks she is actually Ceiling Cat." I laughed, but really, it wasn't me. It was just Stella.
She was a loving cat. She adored my pug, Sam I Am. He couldn't see well, so she would walk next to him, like a seeing eye cat. He got very sick once, and spent three days in the hospital. When he came home, she brought him all her favorite toys.
She got sick this summer, and a month ago, I learned it was cancer. Untreatable. On Monday, she took a turn for the worse. Her kidneys were failing. Yesterday, it we clear that things were at an end, that anything else I tried would only make me feel better at the expense of her pain.
My friend Jen drove us to the vet. She sang Stella a lullaby, and stayed with us both. My vet and the entire staff gave us the utmost in compassion and kindness. And yesterday morning, Stella died in my arms.
I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me yesterday with kindness. So many of you did, and it meant, it means, so much to me. Please forgive me if I do not respond individually to you. It doesn't mean I didn't notice. I did, and I am deeply grateful.