I volunteer at an animal shelter in Southern California. I've been there for 5 years and I work exclusively with the cats. One day I met this very sweet elderly kitty in our adult cat room where the new kitties are kept for 7 days. I couldn't help but notice her incredibly sweet disposition, and her incredibly infectious raspy meow. As I spent time with her I could tell by her eager yet vacant stare that she was blind. She was 18 and she was blind and she had been dumped at our shelter. Don't get me started on how I feel about that, and how often I see it. Kitten season was coming up and for anyone in the shelter environment you know that once the bouncy kittens overtake the shelter some of the wonderful adult cats don't get as much attention from adopters.
Being at a shelter, it's hard to not fall in love with the animals there who show such extraordinary gratitude for the love and attention that they receive. I have fallen in love many times - Sugar, Huck, Mittens, to name but a few. But this time was different. I met her and within mere minutes I was so drawn to her that I just knew she was meant for me. I immediately let everyone who would listen know that I had fallen in love with her and that I wanted to take her home so that I could give this precious senior kitty the best last days, months or years of her life. Whatever time on this earth that she had left I knew had to be spent with me. She wound up at my shelter for a reason.
I named her Rosie, which just seemed to fit her sweet spirit. Plus it was what I wanted her future to be (mushy I know). I took her home and provided her with a very simple yet spacious living space, more or less confined to the back half of my living room, secured with baby gates so that she wouldn't get overwhelmed with a space too large. Well, it was quickly decided, by Rosie, that the setup was completely unacceptable. No, she INSISTED that she have full run of my house. Despite her blindness and her arthritis she managed to climb over every gate, every time. And she had NO problem voicing her frustration, VERY loudly!! I finally gave up, returned the gates to Home Depot and decided it was wise to just let this little spitfire have her way. And that was OK with me, because it was all about making her happy.
As I was to discover Rosie had a larger than life presence that completely filled up my home. She eventually decided to remain in the back half of the living room, the space I had originally carved out for her anyway but this time it was HER choice (all cat owners right about now are agreeing with the accuracy of this feline rule). She had her little raspy meow that she used quite frequently to explain how she was feeling at any point in time. Sometimes it was just to ask if I was still in the room (and she liked to ask that at midnight, at 3 am, at 5 am...). She was a continual source of amusement, joy and happiness for me. And in return for that I tried, and hopefully succeeded, in giving her the best rest of her life that she could have ever hoped for. I gave her as much food as she could eat, as many cat nip toys as she wanted, a 24 hour a day soft radio for company, and so many hugs and so many kisses that I think it must have bugged her, but she didn't seem to mind.
Sadly I lost her only 6 months after I brought her home, her little body succumbed to bladder cancer and within 18 days of the first observable symptom she was gone. And that living room was very, very empty and quiet for a very long time, her presence noticeably missing. But now I can smile when I think of her without being sad and just remember how that wonderful little spirit impacted my life forever. I will always love her and always miss her and I hope that she is happy and free someplace over that Rainbow Bridge, watching birds and butterflies and anything else that she sees as beautiful. I hope she looks in a mirror.