In Memory

I lost an old friend yesterday. Her name was Rockie, and she was an amazing cat.

I had her for 13 years – since she was the tiniest kitten you could imagine. A rescue found on the side of a field with her father and the rest of her litter. She was the runt, and the last one left. We grew up together and I loved her dearly.

Everyone loved Rockie. How could you not? She rocked. She had brains, attitude, a quirky personality, and the softest coat just begging to be pet.

She didn’t really like having her back pet but she LOVED having her head/chin/ears scratched. I trained her to enjoy having her nose rubbed, and to sleep under the blankets. Which, as an afterthought, might not have been the best idea – though it created some pretty amusing memories. So many times I accidentally, very nearly, sat down on her while she was napping underneath a pile of blankets. Then she started sleeping under the blankets and leave her tail hanging out. I think this was her “me” time away from Boo.

I tried to toilet train her once. Man, what a disaster that was. It actually worked for a while! Seriously. But then either she or the other cat (Boo) decided that they’ve had about enough of that. It’s hard to tell which cat is doing something when you have more than one unless you catch them in the act… Soon after it was pretty obvious that the other one followed suit and neither were using the toilet. A year and a half this battle of wills lasted. As you can imagine, the cats won out and I reinstated the litter box… begrudgingly.

She was patient and gracious. Most of the time. As long as it didn’t involve delaying her mealtime. She humored Boo, but it was obvious that she knew she was the real queen of the house.

She could be pretty creepy too. When we watched scary movies she’d sit in a dark corner just stare at us. Eventually we’d start to get that feeling that we were being watched. You know that feeling. We’d look around and notice her just sitting there. Looking at us. I’m pretty sure she did this on purpose and picked these moments in particular – for maximum effectiveness. The winner of the Most Creepy award: when she sat in that dark corner and watched us watching Paranormal Activity late one night.

Oh, and she was a hunter. Always the hunter. She tracked and ate countless spiders and other creepy-crawlies for me over the years. She’d go absolutely bonkers if there was a fly or beetle buzzing around the house where shouldn’t catch them. And those birds! Always just out of her grasp on the other side of the window…

She was quite the cat.

I remember when she and I lived together alone in our own place for a while. She got used to my schedule and knew that sound my alarm made that meant “that was your last chance – you’ve run out of snoozes.” It meant that it was time for breakfast, so she paid close attention to the sound of my alarm. She began anticipating it, and would sit on my pillow next to my head looking down at me in expectation. If I didn’t get up after that last chirp of my alarm, well… She knew she had to do something. I was being bad and delaying her breakfast. So she would put her paw on my closed eyelid. When she felt my eyes start to open, she’d remove it and look down at me with a look that said “You shouldn’t still be laying there with your eyes closed. You know that.” If I closed my eyes again, she would place her paw on my eyelid again. We’d repeat this process until I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed.

On the flip side, if I stayed up too late watching TV she would sit on the couch next to me and try to get my attention. She would start inching closer and look at me. Then she’d tap on my arm. If I ignored her, she’d put her paw on my arm and hold it there until I’d acknowledge that yes, I understood that it was “passed my bedtime.” After a while she’d throw in the towel and just curl up next to me until I went to bed.

Years ago I had given her a squeaky mouse that was made of fur. She LOVED it. It was like her baby. Except that she chewed the eyes, nose and tail off, and eventually pealed the fur off completely. I threw the squeaker out because that obviously did not interest her. She would carry that “mouse carcass” (as I lovingly called it) all around the house. She’d leave it in random places – sometimes on my pillow or on the floor next to where I slept. I really loved that. It’d always put a smile on my face. Gradually she started ripping pieces of the pelt off and we’d have to throw them away. Eventually it got to a point where we had to throw the final piece away and ended up replacing it with a different type of mouse. No squeaker, not real fur – just a soft, stuffed mouse of approximately equal size to the predecessor. She loved that too. Only ate the nose and tail off. The rest of the body remained intact. This mouse she would actually carry around the house every night – yowling while it was still in her mouth – as if to announce to every room “Helloooo. I’m Rockie, and this is my mouse.” She’d do this in each room throughout the house, and it’d make us giggle. As soon as she noticed that you noticed her, she would drop it and come walking over, as if to say “Oh, sorry, didn’t realize you were watching that. I’ll try again later when you go to bed.” Funny thing was, if Rockie took a night off of “mouse duty”, Boo would try to parade the mouse around in the same manner as if she was picking up the slack. I almost buried her with the mouse, but I didn’t want to take it away from Boo.

Even before the mouse, I had these giant bunny slippers that she grew attached to. She would sometimes track and hunt them. Other times she’d snuggly with them, or I’d find her carrying them off (they were almost as big as she was) and would curl up with them in her carrier.

As most cats do, she loved laying on & in bags – paper, plastic, canvas – didn’t matter. It was always terrifyingly hysterical when she’d get herself stuck in one of the bag’s handles… She loved laying on top of boxes – but what she loved even more was trying to curl up in an empty box that was just slightly too small for her. Yesterday morning I had actually left out just such a box for her, and got to watch her try to get inside it while I was getting ready for work. That put a smile on my face and made me chuckle…

She seemed to pass peacefully, and presumably happily. She was napping in one of her favorite spots, on a soft & fuzzy carpet, laying next to her mouse in a beam of sunlight. I couldn’t have chosen a better way for her.

She wasn’t just a cat to me. She was an old friend that shared my good times and bad times. She was an awesome personality and the loudest pur you’ve ever heard.

I’m going to miss her being the mother of the house and grooming everyone whether we like it or not. I’m going to miss the evening yowls while she parades the mouse around. I’m going to miss her trying to snuggle with me while I work on my computer, and sit in the gap between me and the back of my chair while sitting at the dining room table. I’m going to miss that obscenely loud motor when she was happy. And I’m going to miss those ridiculously cute sleeping poses.

RIP Rockie, May 1 2013

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