Tuesday, January 7, 2014


While I've been diverting you with fast-food follies, serious stuff has been going on. One of these has come to its conclusion for Pandora, our 18-year-old cat. For several years she's suffered from two chronic illnesses requiring contradictory treatments; we've been juggling foods and medications for these and shuttling her back and forth to the vet for quite a while. Finally last weekend the illnesses just got to her and her little body began to shut down; her life came to a quiet end at the vet's office this morning.

What I prefer to remember is this bouncy little kitten with, throughout her life, the softest fur you ever petted:
Even well into middle age, she would shift instantly among three modes: Snooze, Squiggle, and Zoom. Zoom, later renamed Rocket Girl, would tear around the house and particularly loved feathers. Squiggle preferred laser pointers. Snooze could most easily be summoned by laying a sheet of paper on the living room floor: Pandora would inevitably come and sit on it, and then fall asleep, usually on her head. I know that's hard to imagine: this is the closest to a photo of it that we've got.
But it was Rocket Girl who was most memorable. Waggle a feather high above her and she'd perform her most dazzling trick, leaping straight up about four feet, contorting about in the air, and landing in exactly the spot she took off from, except facing the opposite direction.

She was a rescue kitty who came already named, which we accepted because Pandora is the name of an equally inquisitive and surprising character from one of my favorite books, Le Guin's Always Coming Home. But we joked about renaming her Evelyn, because she was such a mighty Leaper. From the beginning, too, there were hints of the imperious personality that would flower after Seven died and she inherited the position of Top Cat. Her attitude on Pippin has always been, "I am the cat. Pay no attention to the thing that hides in the closet. I am the cat." She would be furious if she ever spotted another cat outside on the patio; we learned to chase them off rather than try to discipline her. For these reasons it's not improbable that, had that character existed yet, she'd have been named for Glorificus, the season 5 Big Bad on Buffy.

But, when not loudly insisting on food - in her last years, after losing weight alarmingly, she went on a feed-on-demand diet, and demand she did - she could be a sweet cat with various interesting sounds substituting for purrs. Pippin, who just wanted to be Glory's minion (albeit better-looking than the ones on Buffy), showed real concern as Pandora's health declined over the past few days, and since she went away this morning he's been hiding out in the closet again. How do we assure him that he's not next?

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