Belle

On an October day in 2002, I drove to my sister-in-law’s parents’ house to pick up my new kitten. Never having owned any pets besides fish before, I was scared I wouldn’t like being a pet-owner and would let this little creature down. I was the kid who was afraid of dogs for most of my childhood. I had never held a cat or a dog before.

We reached the house and walked to the front door, passing a cage on the way there with a tiny white kitten in it. She was standing there by herself, looking forlorn. I remember thinking, “I hope my kitty is like that one.”

A few minutes later, Laurie’s mom handed that very same kitten to me and said, “Here’s your kitty.”

I stared down at her, shocked to see her clinging to my sweater with her little claws. She stared up at me wide-eyed. I hastily handed her to my brother.

Not the most auspicious sounding beginning, but it was the start of eight and a half wonderful years together. Later that same evening, I sat in the rocker with my kitten on my lap and watched her stretch out on her back in perfect bliss, a kitty smile on her face, as I petted her. “This”, I thought to myself, “is going to be pretty cool.”

She was an amazing cat. Adorable, playful. She wasn’t loud, she didn’t bite or scratch. She barely shed and she only had one or two accidents when she was little. After a rough first trip, she became a champion traveler and went with me every time I went home to visit my parents. My mom and everyone else in the family fell in love with her. In fact, she is at least partly responsible for saving the lives of six other cats – my mom’s three, my other two, and my sister’s cat. She was so special that she converted people who hadn’t liked cats before.

I was so happy with my Belle-cat. I bought her presents, spent hours petting her, made up songs for her. No, I’m really not kidding about that last one. It was like “Gilmore Girls” except that one of us was a cat. It was just the two of us and we were just fine with that.

It took me several months to really let myself fall in love with her, but she brightened my world right away. After deliberating for two weeks, I finally named her “Belle”, having gotten the idea from a commercial for the new “Beauty and the Beast” DVD. A name meaning “beauty” fit such a beautiful cat. She was a chocolate point Siamese mix, mostly white at the beginning with her tiny face dominated by a big, black nose. However, it had taken me so long to name her that she thought her name was “Baby”. It took her a while to respond to her real name, but she always responded to “Baby” or “Baby kitty”.

Belle loved to watch the printer.

I was going through a very dark, difficult period and Belle helped me begin to dig my way out of it. It had been years since I had had anyone to come home to, anyone to take care of. She would come running when I came home from school and leap in to my arms purring. She would sit next to me on the counter when I put my makeup on in the morning. She sat on the edge of the tub (and drank the water) when I took a bath and curled up with me at night. I saw her face first thing in the morning and last thing every night.

On December 17, 2010, she died. The vet agreed it was best to bring her home and we were together. It was just the two of us at the beginning and at the end.

I’ve been trying for over a month to write about it and I still don’t really seem to have the words. My husband was gone on a business trip and she became very ill right after he left. So, I spent several days dragging my poor toddler to emergency vets and our regular vet, spending hours desperately trying to amuse him and spend time with my girl, knowing every visit and good-bye could be our last and knowing she deserved better. Wondering why this was the ending we were getting after eight and a half wonderful years. Wondering why we only got eight and a half years. Wondering why my poor girl was getting such a difficult ending. Blaming myself for not getting her help sooner.

The guilt and grief made the first days and weeks very difficult. But I know Belle loved me and I did the best I could under very difficult circumstances.

She was my first pet and she was a beautiful gift during a terrible time in my life. She helped bring me out of the darkness. Through her, I discovered my love of animals, especially cats. I am so blessed to have had her in my life and to still have my love for her and memories of her in my heart. Memories of her little black tail curling to a point when she wrapped it around her as she slept. Of her sleeping like a human baby in my arms when she was a baby. Of her falling in the toilet and looking at me like it was my fault. Of her wiping her paws before she left the litterbox. Of the gentle way she would push your hand away if she didn’t want to be petted, rather than bite or scratch. She was my only lap kitty, out of three cats, and she never gave up trying to sit there, not even when I was nine months pregnant, or nursing, or writing on my laptop.

Thank you for your unconditional love, Belle. You changed my life. Know that I will always love you and will miss you forever. I am grateful and honored to have been your kittymomma.

Belle hiding behind my legs.

Belle with Max when he was a newborn.

Belle with Chris.

Belle and me in 2003.

Belle with me three weeks before Max was born.

 

Belle with her "brothers" Fort and Angus

Belle loved her kitty tree.

Belle's favorite sleeping spot - the couch.

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Mommy’s naptime schedule

Ha! Did you think this was a sleep schedule pour moi? Hardly. These are the activities I ALWAYS fit in during Max’s naps in order of the difficulty of doing them with a baby (And, let’s face it, the fun factor of doing them with a baby). I have learned this through trial and error since becoming a mom. I have definitely been forced to get my priorities straight.

1. Use the bathroom (Because I like to do this alone whenever I can. Usually there is a baby and/or assorted cats in there with me. Cats do not seem to get that it is not good to rub around their owner’s legs when said owner is sitting on the toilet.)

2. Eat. (Because the baby will either howl and make you feel guilty because you stranded them in their Jumperoo so you could have two hands to eat or they will babble adorably and make you feel guilty for wishing you could hear the TV over their adorable babble. I love to watch TV while I eat.)

3. Get dressed. (Again, I like to do this alone whenever I can.)

4. Any chores I have time or energy left to do.

Before I go, thanks for your patience with the dearth of posts lately. We moved in to a new house and there has just not been enough time or energy to post the last few weeks. I’m hoping to get back on track now.

The BABY is supposed to be the one keeping me up

“Thump. Meow! Thump. Meow! Thump. Meow!” (Angus attempting to open a bathroom cabinet that doesn’t completely close.)

Belle uncharacteristically walking over our sleeping bodies in the middle of the night.

Angus puking for a grand finale, just as the sun was coming up.

Me, wondering why I ever became a kittymomma.

Bottoms up! Please!!

Why do cats stick their butts in your face when you do not want to look at them and walk around with their tails in the air showing off their business, but act outraged if you actually try to look at them? (Before anyone asks, you are supposed to periodically glance at your cat’s rear to check for signs of infection or illness.) To be fair, I guess my cats aren’t actually trying to stick their butts in my face. It’s just an unfortunate side effect at times when I am lying on the floor petting them.

I thought I noticed a lump on Belle’s posterior the other day. I think it’s nothing, but I wanted to do a comparison by checking the boys’ butts before I rushed her off to the vet. (Such is my glamorous life. Bottoms have become a big part of it. No pun intended.) I just couldn’t remember if her butt always looked like that. Of course, now that I need to get a look, no one is obliging. (They don’t like it very much if you actually try to hold their tail up and look. I knew that, but I was desperate.) So, I guess she will be off to the vet when Fort goes in for his annual in the next couple of weeks. I can’t be too careful, since she is technically a senior cat now. Think good thoughts! I am a little worried about my sweet Belle-cat.

Happiness, TX

Tonight is the third anniversary of the day I moved in with my husband. Which means I have now lived in North Austin a year longer than I lived in South Austin. I have officially lost most of my weird points. I hang my head in shame. Luckily, I have a baby and rarely get out of the house, so it really doesn’t matter where I live at this point.

I would rather live in North Austin with Chris, Max, Belle, Angus, and Fort than in the very heart of the 78704 alone. I would move to Frame Switch if that’s what I had to do to be with them. Happy anniversary, baby, and Happy New Year to all!

Baby’s first meow

I heard feline voices coming through the baby monitor twice today. Twice. Two of my three cats were trapped in the nursery (at separate times) while Max was napping today. And the kid slept through the meowing. Fort thanked me for letting him out by biting and swiping at my leg. Belle just ran for her life. I can understand not seeing Belle, who is tiny, and tends to blend in (Plus, she likes to climb in to the drawer underneath the crib.), but how do you miss a seventeen pound black cat in your child’s room?

Triple Threat

Just now I was petting Belle and Angus, Kegel-ing, and surfing the Internet, all at the same time. No wonder I have trouble calming down enough to sleep at night.

Today’s Mommy Guilt

It’s mostly Kittymomma guilt today. I feel guilty for saying, “Damn you, Fort!” when he jumped in the crib as I was trying to put Max down for a nap. Not to mention the fact that I damned him last night when he was chasing Belle around the bathroom while I was trying to get ready for bed at 12:30.

I also feel guilty for saying, “Jesus, Max, that hurt!” when he pulled my hair whilst screaming, just as I tripped over the ottoman while attempting to put him in his carrier.

Yes, Mommy can be a potty mouth. But my dad was a potty mouth and I turned out ok. Except that I’m a potty mouth.

Why do cats …

feel the need to dig their claws in to your knee when sitting on your lap? I am not going to suddenly stand up and dump you off my lap and, even if I did, you would land on your feet.

Why do humans feel the need to endure tiny little claws boring their way in to their knees? Furthermore, after enduring this subtle form of torture until forced to get up and risk mortally wounding your cat’s tender feelings, why must we stand up, slo-o-o-wly, inch by painful inch, gently urging, “Sweetie, you really have to get off of Mommy’s lap now” while “sweetie” hangs on until they are almost perpendicular to the floor? How is it we recognize the insanity of this, yet still give in to it??

Funky treasure hunt

It is weirdly satisfying to scoop a seemingly pristine litterbox (Is there such a thing?)  and find a whole pile of poo my cats industriously attempted to hide from me. I feel like I’ve solved a puzzle. It’s a small triumph.

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