We lost our kitty Maple today. :( She was 15, actually almost 16, since her birthday is in February. She liked playing, eating, sleeping, getting into boxes, sleeping, catnip, sleeping, and overall being the queen of the house. She was more my sister's cat, back when we originally got our first cats... they were our two, Java and Maple. They were a pair, a couple of kittens who grew up together as best friends. I love her. I miss her so much.
I miss the way that Maple would be kitty in charge... when there was a new cat introduced into the house, she would hiss and give them a hard time and then eventually when they'd passed some kind of test, she would grant them permission to eat near her. I remember that time she escaped the house randomly (she's an indoor cat), through a flimsy screen window... I can just picture her there like a little princess, awaiting her silly humans to let her in. She loved vanilla ice cream, and that was her treat on her birthday and other special occasions. Along with the standard catnip and tuna dishes. Maple was the perfect lazy cat, sleeping whenever and wherever she wanted. I keep remembering playing with her as a kitten with one of those fishing pole type toys. Maple was in our family since 1998, when she was a little kitten... my sister picked her because she was being picked on/beaten up by her sibling, she was only a pound or two when we got her. I'll never be able to look at a maple leaf, or maple syrup the same again. She once swallowed a needle, accidentally. She got a thread in her mouth and then the needle came right along with it... my father saw it happening and tried to grab it, but it was too late. She had to go in for surgery after that, she recovered just fine. But since that incident, we always were extra cautious whenever someone was sewing something... an aunt was visiting and said "oh is this the needle cat?" and that goofy nickname stuck around for quite some time after. Then there was the time she got multiple colors of paint on her butt somehow, and for the rest of the day wherever she sat there'd be these multi-hued spots throughout the house.
Mapes had developed jaw cancer, and although she was ok at first, when it worsened, it happened fast. It was also likely that the cancer had spread, too. :( So this was something that was coming, expected, unlike last time we lost a baby (the other kitty we lost, Java, got very suddenly sick in 2005 with a liver problem at age 7, he is also very loved and very missed). My father was getting ready to have to bring Maple to the vet to be put down very soon, but she surprised us by passing quietly at home today. I think that part's for the better. She hated car rides more than any of our other cats, and I'm relieved that wasn't among her last experiences. It's weird, she seemed to hold on long enough to just make it through Christmas so she could see us siblings who've grown and were returning to the parents' house for the holidays. They say that people sometimes will hold on like that before letting go, and I just learned today that apparently cats do this too. I've been laying awake the last couple nights thinking and crying over her- I had a feeling this would be happening sooner than later. She'd gotten so frail in the last week or so. It's simultaneously the most heartwarming, happy thing to have a pet... and also the most heartbreaking, deeply painful and tragic experience, when they leave our lives.
Love you, Mapes. I'm sure you and Java are out there playing and cuddling together again right now.