Remembering Kita

While much of the blogosphere will no doubt be reflecting on the death of former White House press secretary Tony Snow, I’m a bit more concerned about a certain feline that Mr. Snow might see walking around the afterlife, wondering where her owners have gone.

Kita, our 21-year-old brown tabby cat, died very early on Saturday morning. My wife, Julia, and I were with her in her last moments. At 21 it can be easily argued that she lived a full life, and she did. Julia rescued her 18 years ago. Kita was the first cat she ever rescued. I’ve only known Kita as long as I’ve been with Julia—about six years—and she never acted like the oldest cat of the bunch. When Julia and I met, she had four cats: Kita, Gaby, Topper, and Zephyr. We had to have Topper euthanized in 2006 because of his failing mental health. He was 14. Zephyr is that age now, and still the mascot of the house. Gaby is about 16 or 17, longhaired, beautiful, and somewhat of a bitch. But in her case, good looks really do a lot to take the edge off her attitude.

In recent years, we’ve added a few youngsters to the bunch, Lulubelle, Evie, Cubby Bear, and Jersey, but to me Kita will always be the Grande Dame of the pride.

She was graceful and cool, and had a beautiful face; almost Egyptian. It befitted the nickname Julia had for her, “Princess Kita.” When Kita spoke, she did not do so with an obnoxious meow, but rather a tiny coo. Sometimes, in that coo, you could almost hear the words, “We are not amused.”

She patiently suffered through the dozens of foster cats that have been in and out of our house the past three years, and did not launch into a tirade whenever one of them made the mistake of getting too close to royalty.

At the core of her, Kita was a gentle and fair creature. It really is true that the cat picks the owner, and I still remember the night right in bed when Kita crawled onto my stomach and chest and started kneading her paws into me. It was as though she was stamping me with her seal of approval. Then she started purring and her ears got warm, a sure sign of a happy cat.

We may never know another like her, but Julia and I are blessed for having known her at all.