Beginnings & Endings
The beginning of a new year and the end of an era here on our little farm. Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona left us peacefully overnight. I once read somewhere that the average lifespan of an outdoor cat was about 3 years. Fiona bested that by at least eleven. To the best of our recollection, she came to us as a tiny stray about 14 years ago. A friend had taken pity on her, given her some milk, then promptly called me to ask if we’d take her. Our resident farm cat at the time, Mozart, was not a fan of the new kid but tolerated her and eventually the two of them worked out a sort of peace — as long as Fiona kept her distance.
Nick-named Buddha Belly because of her overly large primordial pouch, Fiona was an excellent huntress. For many years after Mozart’s passing, she ruled the farm and wouldn’t tolerate other cats on the property, fiercely chasing off any strays who ventured in. She was a toughy, surviving several encounters with unknown predators that left her at one point with puncture wounds to her mid-section and, after another altercation, with her tail barely hanging on.
Over the last couple of years, she had gotten sedentary over winter. Not leaving her bed atop the dog crates except to eat and use the litter box. She got to the point where she looked more like a waddling, furry bowling ball than a cat. I suspect, had I not moved her into the house before last winter, she may have left us sooner. Though she was larger than she should have been, and it was obvious her joints ached, it never stopped her from setting Rebel in his place. Or, for that matter, charging across the deck, coming out of seemingly nowhere, and opening up a can of whoop-ass on a dog ten times her size when he had a set-to with Finn.
Fiona loved to hang out with us, lounging in her favorite corner of the deck, or laying in a patch of sunshine beside the house. For some reason she also liked to lay directly behind the chairs, even after getting a good several inches skinned off her tail when it got caught under one. She was not even slightly amused when we introduced Rebel Kitten to the farm and despised him to the end. And though there were times she would lay within a few feet of him, it was never done without the steady, threatening of a low growl.
I admit, once she moved into the house, I spoiled her. So much so that we couldn’t go into the kitchen without Fiona showing up to see if there were scraps for her. She would follow the sun around the house, finding spots to lay in it against the chimney or, when it swung to the west, on the bottom step. As winter crept in and the heat came on, she’d lay against the radiator behind the couch. How should could do that without getting seared, I have no idea.
I’ve been looking for her all morning, used to our routine and missing her tripping me up as I round a corner, or staring at me as I made breakfast, waiting with a cat’s expectant air of entitlement for the egg bowl. Safe journey, Fi-Fi. You will be missed.