I was building a new life in California, but hadn’t yet settled in. I went looking for a kitty, in hopes that s/he would help ease the transition, and it was then that I learned that you don’t pick your animal companions–they choose you.
When I first saw "my" kitty, she was sharing a cage with other rescue cats. One by one, her more gregarious siblings got adopted. She huddled in the corner, looking all scrawny and forlorn, one of two kittens left behind at the end of the day. But as soon as the adoption specialist placed her in my arms, she scrambled up my shirt, nuzzled into my collar, and started purring. Loudly. I hadn’t planned on adopting a kitty that very day, but when she tightened her tiny paws around my neck, I couldn’t resist.
T. S. Eliot suggests The Naming of Cats is a complicated matter. But the Greek word for ‘life’ came immediately to mind. Fresh starts for both of us–it seemed fitting. I tried it out on her, and she responded with one of her signature chirps. And so it was that my new friend first allowed me to call her Zoë.
The minute we walked through the front door, she let it be known that she owned our house and everyone in it.
Naughty kitty! Her first week home, she napped in the fruit bowl.
Zoë with David. They look so cute together–and so young!
She blossomed quickly into a Cat of Great Importance. More fur than flesh, the fact remained: Zoë had a lot of "loft." Or as my husband liked to say, "a wide aspect ratio." Here she is, fully grown, quite possibly contemplating her next meal.
Girth aside, there never was a sweeter, more gentle cat than Zoë. Nothing fazed her, except perhaps Le Chat Lunatique, who earned a quick cuffing now and again. I’d never heard a cat "sing" before, but she communicated her contentedness with chirps and trills. When I returned home from work or running errands, she always greeted me at the door, chin lifted and tail as straight as a flagpole. And when she first met the man who eventually became my husband, she twirled around his ankles, purring up a storm, and then rolled right onto her back. Shameless hussy!
Like so many zafteig felines, Miss Zoë had a well-developed sense of leisure. She was the very definition of Zen. She loved sitting in an open window…
…and daydreaming in her not-so-secret hideaways.
But lest you think her lazy, I should also tell you that we were co-workers, Miss Zoë and I. Her main job was to sit atop my desk, spurring me ever onward with my writing. As you can see, she took that assignment very seriously.
Among her other duties: keeping tabs on her mischievous sister, and finding clever ways to make clear that it was quitting time.
Who was it that said, "Cats are a whole lot of company"? They were right–and then some!
Unfortunately, Zoë developed a heart and lung condition. We did all we could to keep her comfortable, ever mindful of that point where discomfort turns into suffering. Though each breath was effortful, she kept right on chirping…until yesterday, when she let us know that it was time to say our final goodbyes.
If I could pick any kitty in the world as my animal companion, I’d always choose Zoë. And I’ll be forever grateful that she chose me.