A Very Special Cat

Shadow came into my life when she was about four years old. A friend, living in Minneapolis with her husband and two cats, had recently inherited two additional cats from her husband’s nephew. Knowing that my cat had recently died, Mika called, saying, “Shadow is so sweet, but a bit needy. She would be perfect for you. Plus, four cats are just too much!” I laughed and said, “Yes, sounds like a great idea!”

Mika flew to Seattle with Shadow, staying the week-end. Shadow made herself at home immediately. I quickly discovered that my beautiful black, petite cat loved to climb, especially to the top of doors and bookcases. I was always amazed how she kept her balance. Very soon, her favorite place to sleep at night was next to my pillow and we quickly became best buddies.

Shadow’s Ladder

Other places that she enjoyed climbing included a ladder, which I had used to change a light bulb. Seeing that Shadow liked it, I kept in open in the living room, putting a beach towel on the top shelf where she liked to take naps. She loved Christmas, climbing the tree both before and after it was decorated. Because she was so light, she never knocked the tree over, though I would find ornaments on the floor and sometimes she would meow for me to take her down from the tree.

When I accepted a job in Charleston, SC, Shadow accompanied me on my cross-country drive, sitting in her case in the front passenger seat. She loved exploring different hotel rooms each night, especially the high places.  Cross Country with Shadow ~ A Cat Tale (continued) …

She liked exploring our new home in Charleston, though like me, she was not a fan of the heat. One summer day she went out on the screened balcony and immediately came back to the air conditioned living room. When not hot, she enjoyed being on the balcony, looking down from the third floor to see what was happening below.

After two years in Charleston, I told Shadow “I need your navigating skills again. We are going home to Washington.” Was it my imagination or was she happy. She would once again be able to stay by the patio door, watch the squirrels and birds and come outside with me when I watered the plants.

About two years after returning home, Shadow was taking a nap on her ladder on a Saturday evening, woke and when coming down, fell, hurting her leg. My neighbors and I took her to an emergency animal hospital, where they said her leg was broken and I could pick her up the following day. However, the doctor called me the next morning, saying it was not a simple break and Shadow’s back right leg would have to be amputated. I was devastated but Shadow was brave and courageous. She came home after three days and was supposed to “REST” for about two weeks and NOT jump.

I converted a bathroom into the “Shadow” room, putting a blanket in a large basket as her bed. There was room for her food and water dishes, litter pan, and a place for me on the floor, where I could sit and read and talk to her.

However, after two days, Shadow figured out how to open the bathroom door. She very cleverly put her paw under the door and somehow managed to open it. As that bathroom was next to my bedroom, I had to quickly think of something else. I did not want Shadow in the bedroom for a while, as my bed is quite high.

The living room became the “Shadow” room, with food and water dishes, which I also had in the kitchen and 2nd bedroom. I went to the hardware store and bought several stools, to put in front of the couch and chairs. That worked! I closed the bedroom doors during the day, while I was at work.

So much for two weeks of “REST” as Shadow wanted to walk and be active. Very quickly, she was running. I marveled at her tenacity, strength and perseverance. At night, for about four months, we slept in the 2nd bedroom on a sleeping bag and futon mattress. Afterward, I bought stairs for the bed. While she would use the stairs to get onto the bed, she would jump down when she thought I was not looking.

During this time, I became quite ill with shingles. I was able to work from home which gave me time to spend with Shadow. I told her that her courage inspired me, adding “Shadow, we will grow old together.”

Shadow developed infections and several times I had to give her medication. When it was liquid, there was more of it on her and me than in her. When it was a pill, it was hysterical. She pretended to swallow it and later I would find it on the floor or even stuck in her fur. She found many new hiding places when she knew it was time for her medicine.

But within the year, Shadow became quite sick and this time I was not able to take her home from the vet. I said my tearful good-bye as I held her and thanked her for the joy that she had brought me.

When I got home and sorrowfully told a neighbor, she brought me flowers and I set up a little memorial for her with photos, flowers and a black cat statue. My neighbor and I drank champagne and toasted Shadow. She had been my companion for ten years and I am thankful for so many terrific memories. While each cat is unique, some are a bit more exceptional and Shadow will always remain a very special cat.


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