The Felines     

Over the Rainbow Bridge

She came into my life one spring weekend more than 16 years ago -- a little ball of white fluff, one blue eye and one green and the congenital deafness that goes hand in hand with that combination of fur and eye color. She weighed barely six pounds in her fighting prime, but she carved out a place for herself in my heart and my life way out of any proportion to her size ... and she leaves a hole just as big...

Mist was born in April 1990 on my mother's little farmlet in Virginia. There were five kittens in the litter and four had the hallmarks of deafness. There was no chance they could survive there; they wouldn't last out in the country and no shelter would try to save them with their deafness. So she and her also-deaf brother Snow came to make their homes with me.

There is so much I will remember about this little girl. I knew for certain that she and her brother were deaf when they sat at the window during their first lightning-and-thunder storm, pawing at the window when lightning would flash as if God was putting on a light show for their benefit. She slept through vacuum cleaning (try THAT with a cat with normal hearing). And she was the one who slept peacefully and with blissful ignorance throughout an entire episode of a home invasion by a raccoon.

She was without question the most beautiful cat who has ever owned me. A beautiful and sweet face, a disposition ranging from sweet to downright mischievous. She was a lot smaller than her brother, so for the longest time whenever I would hear her squeal, I was sure he was picking on her. Then I really paid attention... and found that most of the time the feisty little girl was the instigator!

Because of their deafness, I had to use a plant mister to try to discipline her and Snow. Snow soon began to run as soon as I picked up the plant mister. Mist, on the other hand, would curl up, cover her face with one paw and swipe at me with the other.

She had a habit of sitting up on her haunches and holding her front paws together so that she almost looked like she was pretending to be a kangaroo. She never begged for food or table scraps, but she sure begged whenever she wanted to be petted -- especially to be scritched under the chin.

Mist managed to sneak out of the house once when painters left an upstairs window screen unlatched. She maneuvered along a second floor ledge from one side of the house to the other and I had to slide out onto a porch roof to get her back in. (She never tried to get out again!) One time I thought she had gotten out and went into a total panic, only to find her curled up sleeping peacefully under a record cabinet.

She acquired a nickname, Fang, when she was a very young cat. She managed to get herself caught up inside a rocker recliner. I didn't know how she'd gotten in and couldn't see an easy way to get her out so I ended up cutting through the upholstery to free her. She'd gotten an upholstery cord tangled around her leg and was hanging upside down, screaming. I had one hand to hold the cord away from her leg, one hand to use the scissors and no more hands to hold the cat, who was frantic. I got her free but there was blood all over the place (and on a solid white cat, even a little blood looks like a LOT). I threw her in the cat carrier, flew to the emergency vet, they cleaned her up, looked at her, looked at me, and solemnly advised, "Ma'am, there's nothing wrong with this cat." All the blood was mine, where she'd bitten me. I still have the report from the emergency vet: it says the cat was given a muscle relaxant and calming agent, and the owner was sent to the hospital for treatment of cat bites...

And of course ANYTHING on a white cat looks like a BIG problem, be it blood or just plain dirt. When I first moved into this house, I let the two cats down in the basement without thinking that this house used to have oil heat. Yep, after about an hour, I had GREY cats, not white ones. I had to have them professionally bathed. Mist got loose at the bather's place and it took them HOURS to get her back into the tub. That was bad enough, but the look on her face when they handed her over to me with that stupid big pink bow around her neck... priceless...

She had a terrible habit of chewing on plastic... plastic bags in particular. That got her a trip or two to the kitty emergency room and at least one procedure that the vet, with some dismay, described as "roto-rootering out the cat". She was soooo bedraggled when she came home from that... and then went right back to chewing on plastic.

She became a lap cat in the last few years, and she slept with me from the time she was a small kitten. Yes, we've had a really good 16 years, all in all. But more than that we will not have.

Her downward spiral started only about two weeks ago. She wasn't eating well, she was lethargic. Blood tests showed her kidneys were failing. We did everything we possibly could to see if we could buy her more good time, but in the end it was time to put away the medicines and the needles and the treatments and to soothe and smooth her way to a peaceful and painless end.

Mist crossed the Rainbow Bridge just after 10 this morning. And oh how I will miss her...

-- June 19, 2006
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