Some of you may not have read this blog when Chloe was still with me. She died on February 23, 2009, nearly seven months to the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew she had begun to fail around Christmas, but she was mostly okay. Then, that February morning, I woke up to find her in the midst of what appeared to be a heart attack. She was gasping for breath and her eyes were rolled up in her head. I knew it was the end, but I called the vet down the street and he said to bring her right over. Together, we helped ease her passage. She was sixteen.
I adopted Chloe when she was eight. Her first mom had bought her when she was a kitten. Eight years later, Chloe’s mom died of old age. Her mom’s husband had dementia and couldn’t care for himself, much less her, and her mom’s daughter had a houseful of kids and pets already, and felt that Chloe would be happier in a home that was quieter, where she could get more attention. So, she ended up with me.
Chloe was a lamb right from the beginning. You could tell she had been greatly loved. She was far and away the most glamorous pet I’ve ever had, and one of the all-time sweetest. She was a Himalayan, a breed of cat developed by crossing Persians with Siamese cats to get a long-haired cat with colored points. She was what’s called a red-point or flame-point Himalayan, which means she had blue eyes and peach-colored points on her face, ears, legs and tail. But she had a Persian’s flat, imperious face and long, luxurious fur that was the color of cream where it wasn’t peach. And despite her queenly looks, she possessed a surfeit of congeniality. The best of both breeds. But Himmies are a little nicer than either Siamese or Persian cats. In my humble opinion. They only look snooty.
She mothered everyone in the house — me, my dog Foxy, and eventually Jett, a black Persian I adopted several months later. She was the official greeter in the house, coming out to say hello to all guests, her lovely, fluffy peach tail held high, her big blue eyes focused on each person in turn, sometimes saying hello in the silly, raspy voice she inherited from her Siamese ancestors. When she wanted attention and felt perhaps a certain human was not getting the message, she would sit up on her hind legs like a dog, put her front paws together and wave them up and down, three times. I wish I had this on video. The first time I saw her do that, I nearly died of sheer delight, she was so adorable.
Her fur felt like the softest cotton flannel you can possibly imagine. It was more like fleece than fur. She groomed herself very well and thoroughly, and I hardly ever founds mats on her, despite how thick her coat was. I had many nicknames for her — Peachpie, Peaches and Cream, Creamsicle, among others — but she would always come when she was called, a very un-cat-like trait. Even Foxy learned how to talk to her, and eventually, she would come when he called, too, which he did at bedtime each night. For her part, she invited Foxy to rub her belly, but he never did quite get the hang of that, so I did it instead. But he did let her nibble his dog crunchies, to make up for his canine shortcomings.
One of the best things about Chloe was that she was a champion snuggler. Oh, there is nothing quite so wonderful as having a soft, warm kitty snuggled up against your chest, purring blissfully. She liked to spoon with me, her head tucked under my chin, her back against my chest, my arm wrapped around her, the covers over both of us. She also liked to talk to me, and we would have entire conversations when I came home from work, reporting our separate activities to each other. Sometimes she would talk with her tail when we were snuggled in bed. I would tell her how pretty she was, and she would flip her tail up and down. I would tell her I loved her and she would flip her tail. I would call her my Snuggle Bunny and she would flip her tail. The advantage of tail talk was that she could also purr at the same time. Sometimes she would pat my face, gently, with her fuzzy paw, with those little tufts of peach fur sticking out between her toes. Sometimes she would wash my face. Ooo! Scratchy tongue! But she learned to do it tenderly, so it didn’t scratch. Anyone recovering from surgery should have a Chloe to take care of her. She was the best nurse I ever had. I would wake up in the morning, and she would touch noses with me and look at me lovingly with her sky-blue eyes, purring. It made it a lot easier to get out of bed and face another radiation treatment.
She was unfailingly good-hearted, but she was no pushover either. If Jett got too demanding, she would scowl and yowl in her stern-mommy voice and make him sit quietly. If Foxy got too rambunctious, she would put her paw on his nose, never scratching, just gently instructing him to lie down and behave. When he did, tail wagging, she would rub herself against his face. We were all madly in love with her. She was a benevolent diva.
I learned a lot from Chloe. And quite a few of these lessons have stood the test of time. Here’s a sampling:
- Looking glamorous requires conscientious daily grooming.
- If you wear your hair long, keep it clean, comb it thoroughly, and get out all the snarls.
- If you stick to a simple color scheme, you will always look well-dressed.
- Naps are best when they’re shared. Unless there’s not enough room.
- Whenever possible, stay above the fray.
- Walk softly, fly your flag high, but be prepared to snarl when necessary.
- You can usually get what you want by being utterly charming.
- If you can charm your doctor, he’ll make sure the shots don’t hurt too much.
- Yowl when you must. Purr when you can.
- Love well, love wisely, and ignore everyone else.
- Remember who brings home the kibble.
- Say what you mean. If no one hears you, say it louder.
- You can’t have it all, but you can share most of it.
- If all else fails, bring out your claws.
- If that fails, run fast and hide where they can’t find you.
I miss you, Peachfuzz.
Just wanted to add a grateful nod to Suzy Becker, who wrote the hilarious All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat (and Then Some) many moons ago. It remained on my coffee table for decades, but I think someone borrowed it. So I may have to buy another copy…
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