You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. — Psalm 36:6 NLT
Thursday, December 27, 2007. It was going to be a special day for me at the Humane Society where I volunteered. We had decided to add another fur baby to our household and this was the day I would be leaving with a new kitty. I worked on the feline side of the shelter and had my eye on an orange tabby named Henry, but Kristin, one of the employees, said Henry liked people fine, but not other cats. With that said, Kristin reached into the large social room, pulled out a kitten, and said “Pick Chloe!” She set the tabby with calico markings on the floor and Chloe went scurrying across, pushing a jingling ball. Then she turned around, came running over to me, pulled up on my leg, and looked me straight in the eyes. It was a done deal. I picked Chloe.
Chloe was seven months old when she came to live with us. She did everything right, including giving Samantha, our five-year-old Siamese, her space (which was mostly in my husband’s lap). Chloe took my every step. When I sat down, she quickly nestled close beside me. She understood she was chosen by me; she was my kitty. Both smart and sweet, she understood the rules and complied. It was several days before Samantha even acknowledged Chloe’s presence. One night she looked over at Chloe in my lap and then left Richard long enough to move in close and check her out. Satisfied, she went back to Richard without so much as a single swat or hiss.
It was interesting how they learned from one another. Chloe loved every person that ever came to our house. Immediately, she was greeting them with leg rubs and conversation. Samantha had been shy of people, usually running to the back of the house to hide. Watching Chloe, she slowly became comfortable staying in the room with visitors and approaching them for her own share of attention.
Samantha taught Chloe that it is was extremely important to be tidy with the litter box. Chloe’s initial coverings weren’t the best. She had been used to not so much litter at the shelter. But Samantha, a lady from the beginning, would have none of that. I will never forget Samantha marching Chloe back to the litter box and explaining in her own way how covering was to be done. Chloe looked at Samantha and knew her days of haphazard coverings were over.
Samantha was good about sharing her home with Chloe. They shared pretty much everything but snuggles, which Chloe wanted so much. Yet she knew she was to honor Samantha’s wish to not snuggle – something most cats love to do. So Chloe would follow her lead and nap when and where Samantha did and settle in as close as she could get without touching.
Samantha lived to be 15, outliving my husband (who she considered her daddy), and grieving him terribly. I wrote about her in another blog, My Samantha.
Chloe was a great companion. After losing Richard and then Samantha, it was just the two of us. We saw one another through Covid isolation, missing friends coming to visit. I did everything I could to make Chloe happy because that made me happy. As she aged and developed arthritis, we tried different kinds of beds, and what she didn’t like so much went to the Humane Society. Some afternoons, we went to the secured patio where she could enjoy rolling in the sun, holding her head up to a breeze, or just walking around and checking out the flowers. At night, she slept at the foot of my bed on a blanket I got her for Christmas. She loved it from the start and it stayed with us for her lap naps. I bought a portable stairway to help her get into her chair as her arthritis progressed.
In the last year of Chloe’s life, she developed kidney disease, hypertension, and most likely pancreatitis (test had been sent). Looking back, I’m pretty sure she had two or three strokes. There had been three emergency clinic visits and neither time could anything definitive be found.
Then the morning came when we both knew, Chloe and I, that it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a Saturday morning and she was circling the house, finally coming to me and crying out for help. We had spent part of the previous night at the emergency clinic and had not slept once home, just lying side by side. So we took that last trip in the car, this time to stop the suffering once and for all. The doctor who helped Chloe ease into a pain-free life was so compassionate, crooning to her just as I was. Chloe took her last breath in my arms and her fur once again became as soft as rabbit fur, like it had been when she was young. I thought it to be a kiss from God. She was completely healthy again.
I treasure the videos I made of Chloe in her last weeks, even the one of her limping cautiously up the stairs due to her arthritis. I believe the climb hurt her and I hated to see her do it, but she loved the quiet loft where she had a favorite chair. It was warmer and cozier there. It was where she most enjoyed long afternoon naps.
I have many cherished memories of my sweet shelter tabbico, such as the leg bumps she would give to let me know she was in the room with me, the way she held onto my arm and pulled it close while she was lap napping, and the loving paw pats to my face. Chloe gave me more in her 14 years than I could have ever imagined. So I thank you, Kristin, for lifting that perfect kitty from the social room and putting her at my feet. I’m so very glad I picked Chloe.
I take great comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:21 that says “For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?” I believe Chloe now runs in the wind and grass of heaven, feels the sun always on her back, and enjoys long walks with our Lord. Reader, if you have lost a treasured companion, I hope you will find comfort, as well.