Callie and her brother Casey were both 6 month old feral kitten siblings who came into my life in 2003. The founder of the local cat trap-neuter-return group I volunteered with thought that they were too sweet to just be fixed and given back to their colony caretaker to live the rest of their lives outside, so she pleaded with me to take them into my home, and I dutifully obliged.
Maybe there were sweet to her, but to me they only ever hissed if I got too close to them. Never ever could I handle them but that was okay because they respected my space and I respected theirs, and we peacefully co-existed under the same roof. Casey passed first and when he did I worried about Callie missing him, but one of my other cats, Caramel, stepped in immediately and befriended her, and they became a precious inseparable duo for a long time, sleeping together, eating together, roughhousing, bathing each other.
When Caramel passed a few years ago I worried about Callie grieving for him. She became more aloof, independent, like she wasn’t about to let any of my other cats take his place. I respected that, and her, and gave her space, while continuing to keep her safe. In the last year she became hard of hearing so I would yell her name and clap my hands in order to wake her and not startle her. In the last year, when I would feed her, she would get close enough to me to sniff my hands, and then hiss. All it ever took was one hiss to let me know I was getting too close but yes, “please do fill my dishes with wet or dry food, and fluff up my bedding, scoop the litter box, and open or shut my favorite window.” Even after all these years she knew how to keep me wrapped around her paw. When she heard me come home from work, she’d beckon me with her meows for wet food and I always obliged.
Never did I think that Callie was getting up there in age. Callie declined fast in the last week. Her appetite dropped, her love of wet food wavering, but would still give a loud hiss if I got too close. On Sunday though, she didn’t hiss, and for the first time let me pick her up. I got to feel her soft-as-bunny fur, and held her for a moment before putting her in her favorite bed. A few hours later she passed in her sleep and since then I have cried a mountain of tears for this beauty , this fiercely independent hissy girl, who lived life on her own terms for 16 years and has managed to leave a big empty feeling in my household. Hopefully she is reunited with Caramel and Casey at the Rainbow Bridge, running free and chasing butterflies and birds until we meet again.