We had a lovely warm spell in the middle of April 2002. I remember it well, because I was in school and studying for final exams, but also because it was then that a little grey and black cat started hanging around our patio. She was young and she was skinny, but I didn’t feed her, because I knew that would make me feel responsible for her. Knowing that I would never want to let her out, I didn’t let her in, despite her pleas at the door. Instead I just lavished in her attention. Within days she was sitting on my lap, keeping me company all day long. She even came to visit at night, meowing a quick hello at our open window before she settled in on the ledge. We knew the neighbours were feeding her, but she seemed to like us.
After a few weeks of these visits, the weather turned cold again, and snow was in the air. I called Willy, and he agreed; we couldn’t just leave her to freeze. I set out a saucer of milk, and opened the door. She waltzed in and settled instantly. She was home.
One of our other neighbours also wanted to keep her, but she chose us. He was sad, but could see that she was comfortable and knew she would be happy. Together he and I came up with a name for her; Minerva. We called her Minnie, and she was a fixture on our little courtyard, spending her summer days in the garden watching the world go by, and her winter days looking out the window, waiting to get outside again.
She moved with us to our new house, and handled most of the changes very well. She loved to new space, but resented the turmoil and let us know by peeing on our bed, or occasionally our laundry pile. We quickly figured out that lots of love and affection was the answer, and we were all much happier.
When Woo came along, she was curious and cautious, but took to him right away. As he grew and started moving, she was ever so patient with him, even though he chased and pulled her tail. She just took it. I think she was almost too patient with him, like on the day that I walked out onto the sunroom and noticed that Woo was taller than he should be as he stood behind the couch. “What are you standing on?”, I asked. “Minnie”, was his smiling reply. Sure enough, she was just lying there, taking it. He grew to love her very much, and delighted in taking care of her, feeding, brushing, and letting her in and out of the house. He taught his sister to love her and be gentle with her too.
We placed her in the care of my Mom when we left Canada last fall, knowing that she loved Minnie very much, despite her protests. If anyone knew her and would care for her as we did, Mom would. We all missed her greatly, but knew that she was in good hands. The lils and I loved to hear of her exploits, and they frequently demanded that Mom ask her to “meow” into the phone for them. They both obliged.
We heard from Mom last night that Minnie passed away on Saturday, when we were away and unreachable. Willy and I are very sad, and know that the lils will be when we tell them tonight. She was our first pet, and has always been a part of the lils lives. We were all looking forward to seeing her again. Instead we will remember all the fun, playfulness, and her crazy neurotic ways. The way she ran around like a crazy cat, how she talked to us as we talked to her, and the fun that she had roaming around our yard and the lot at the lake. She was happy with us, both at home and at the cottage, and we have lots of good memories of her. I just wish we’d gotten to see her one more time and said goodbye.