In 1998, I picked her out from a pet store. At 12 weeks old, she was older and slightly bigger than all of the other kittens. The shopkeeper told me that people were passing her over because her size made her seem less cute than the others.
While she was still a kitten, I took her to high school one afternoon to show my friends. She was still small and soft and bundled up in my sweater and incredibly relaxed about the whole ordeal. I named her Trixie (what the hell?!) but very early on she got nicknamed Mittens and it stuck.
She did not have mittens.
My dad – who does not like cats – didn’t even notice that we’d gotten a third cat for almost a week. We kept quiet about her when he was home from work, just to see how long we could drag it out for. We were scared he’d be angry about it. But when he eventually saw her, he just shrugged, like: another one?
She wasn’t supposed to be my cat, but bonded with me. Fast. She’d usually be by my side at home, and would follow me most mornings on my walk to school or the bus stop. She’d be waiting at the front yard when I came home.
As we both got older, she’d sleep under the covers in my bed, and sometimes I’d wake up to her facing me with her head on the pillow. When I worked full time but still lived with my parents, she’d hear my car coming down the street and be sitting patiently at the curb when I pulled up. She knew the sound of my car engine.
When I moved out with my then-boyfriend to a place that did not allow pets, she cried loudly in my former bedroom. When I came home to visit on Sundays, we were inseparable.
She was cuddly and friendly and social, often making a point of curling up on the lap of the person least interested in having a cat sit on them – like my dad.
In 2009, my parents moved to Phillip Island. She went with them, and took to island life like a pro. The quiet neighborhood and extra space to roam was perfect for her. Whenever I was visiting for the weekend, she’d somehow know in advance, and start meowing loudly at the guest bedroom.
By the time I moved overseas, she was too old to consider flying over here to be with me, and went into her golden years of retirement on the island. My mom gave her the best life possible – plenty of lap time, freedom, a heater at night for her old bones, and a whole lot of patience and understanding as she went deaf and a little senile in the end.
I will never be thankful enough for the care my mom gave her.
Today, she passed away peacefully in the arms of my mother on Phillip Island, while I sat in bed on the other side of the Pacific. I’m sobbing like a baby, but I’m not sad.
She made it all the way to 18 and was cuddly as hell, right to the end. She had a wonderful life, filled with love and food and really, really loud purring. I’ve never heard another cat purr that loud.
Mittens: you were a wonderful creature. You were a perfect cat. I miss you. Thank you for being such a loyal companion.
I love you.