Friday, June 11, 2010

A Celebration of Misty

Today, June 11, is a date that's dear to my heart. On June 11, 1976, I got my first cat ever. Her name was Misty, and she surely ranks among the top few felines to ever have walked the earth. I wrote the following appreciation of her on what would have been her 20th birthday, in 1996. In the ensuing years, many things have changed, including the fact that her two immediate successors mentioned in the text, Melody and Harmony, have joined her at the RB.

Bear with me today by reading this, and see why I feel so blessed that I should have had one of the most incredible cats in history for a Soul Cat. Written words can never do her, or the connection we had, full justice, but I've done my best. Misty is in my heart for always.

Donna
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Twenty years ago, on April 24, 1976, the world became a better place. That's the day that a small puff of grey-and-white fur, soon to be known as "Misty", arrived on the face of the earth. For the next 13 1/2 years, she delighted everyone who knew her, not just with her beauty, but with her cleverness and her friendliness. She went to the Rainbow Bridge six and a half years ago, and although I miss her to this day, this post is not intended to focus on mourning her loss. I am posting this to celebrate her life.

It's a miracle that I ever got a cat in the first place. When I was a child, I was not allowed to have a pet, because my mom was extremely afraid of animals. I wanted a dog, but that was out of the question, because Mom's phobia of dogs was worse than her fear of anything else. I wasn't really a "cat person" at that time, although I liked ALL animals. By the time I was 10, I'd started giving lunchmeat to every neighborhood stray cat that I happened upon; this was as close as I could come to actually *having* a pet. The problem was that I always got attached to these cats and would beg my parents to let me keep them; the answer was always "No". When I was 11, I got very, VERY attached to a magnificent tuxedo-cat stray, and when I was not allowed to keep HIM, I cried so much, for so many days in a row, that I literally got sick. It must've been the trips to the doctor, the missed school days, and the 104 degree fever from this episode that started to change my dad's mind, because he was not a "cat person" either. He'd grown up with a dog, and would've preferred getting a puppy, not a kitten. However, after I got sick, he started trying to talk my mother into allowing me to have a cat. It took him over a year to convince her, but finally, it worked! My parents agreed in the spring of 1976 that, at the end of the school year, I could get a kitten. I was 12 years old.

I borrowed every single book from our neighborhood library branch that contained info about cat care, and read them until I could recite the info in my sleep. :) During this time, my friends' next door neighbor's cat gave birth to kittens, which would turn 7 weeks old on the day after school let out in June. We went to look at the litter and choose a kitten. Ever since I wasn't allowed to take in that stray tuxedo cat the year before,I'd been promising myself that I'd choose a tuxedo cat over any other color pattern. There were 3 female kittens available, and two of them were black-and-white tuxedo cats! I was delighted. The third kitten was grey and white, and the people whose cat it was made it clear that their favorite of the litter - possibly of ALL her litters, EVER - was the grey one. They felt there was just Something About That Kitten. After spending time with all three kittens, I astonished myself by agreeing with them. Though I'd walked in with my heart set on getting a tuxedo cat, I walked out agreeing that the grey kitten was The One For Me.

Picture a cat with incredibly soft fur and a solid dark grey body (except in bright sunlight, when dark-on-dark grey tabby markings were visible). Imagine that her chin, throat, and tummy are brilliant white, her face and legs have light-on-dark grey tabby markings. Visualize a cat with gold eyes - not yellow, but a nearly-metallic GOLD in color. Combine these features with an intelligent, affectionate personality and an ever-ready loud purrrrrr, and you've got a good idea what Misty was like.

Athletic she was not; one of my friends described Misty as "a stuffed animal that purrs". She had no shyness around new people; in her experience, humans' main goal in life was to dote on her. One of her early nicknames, "Misty-poo", eventually got shortened to "Poo". One of her favorite games was to catch playing cards that I "frisbeed" at her. She used to sit in the front window and "play" with the fingers tapping on the outside of the glass, but she gave up on this activity after she got over-excited and rolled right off the windowsill one day. Everything made her purr, such as when I'd fit our profiles together and tell her, "I put my nose on you". She loved when I sang to her; sometimes I'd take a song with the word "you" in the lyrics and change it to "Poo". She loved that most of all - she would purr even louder every time I did it. :) My favorite of the songs that I re-worded for her was a verse from "Master of the House" from _Les_Miserables_:

Misty of the House,
Pretty little Poo,
Cute and grey and pampered and a fuzzball, too!
Stretching with a yawn,
Sleeping on the bed,
All she has to do all day is purr and shed!
And she loves to watch the birdies,
And she's never seen a mouse,
Fast enough to catch a cold is the Misty of the house!

Misty, you were my first cat, and to me you're the First Cat. By the time you left, you'd been with me for more than half of my life. I raised you and grew up with you, and every cat I have after you will be adopted, not only because you helped me discover that I'm truly a "cat person", but also to honor your memory. When you went to the Rainbow Bridge, part of me went with you, but you left part of yourself with me in return. There'll never be another one like you, which makes me feel all the more blessed that you were my soul-cat. One of the best things I ever did was decide that the grey kitten was The One For Me. You left behind so many wonderful memories that the world is still a better place today, even though it did diminish a bit when you left us. However, on the very day you left us, the Rainbow Bridge became a better place. I'll see you when I get there.

Purrs, hugs, and kisses to you from Donna, and the two Little Sisters adopted after you, Melody and Harmony

P.S. I put my nose on you.

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