Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear Fellow Felines:
Over the last two weeks my staff and I have shed quite a few kitty tears for an extraordinary Maine Coon cat named Kitt. Mr. Kitt spent the last five of his 21 years here after his person’s home was foreclosed on during that treacherous economic downturn.
I arrived at the shelter and established full residency five months before Kitt came along. In fact, It was my idea to make For the Love of Cats his final fur-ever home. I thought it would be kind of nice to have a pal around here to help with kitten management. Kitt, however, did not think I should be top cat, so we agreed to be distant acquaintances. Every now and then I did find him monitoring kitten play in one of our romper rooms. In recognition of this invaluable service, I agreed to let him be “cat emeritus.” Even though technically I was top cat, it seemed like everyone was drawn immediately to Kitt. Probably because he didn’t bite.
Mr. Kitt loved to be loved, and brushed, and to lie upside down in a staff member’s lap for tummy rubs. He didn’t even mind the cat carrier. The only thing he ever got grumpy about was medication time.
Befitting a feline of such refinement, For the Love of Cats’ founders, Jan and Jim Rich, hosted a memorial tribute gathering last week for the Kittster. There was a heartwarming slide show that looped continuously throughout the evening. Can you believe I wasn’t in any of them? The nerve, right?
Nonetheless, a couple of the photos made all of us teary eyed. Kitt’s charismatic personality made him a shelter favorite, the official greeter who never sat on the lap of someone he didn’t like. Suffice it to say that he sat on everyone’s lap, except mine. Throughout the memorial party, all I heard about was what a great guy Mr. Kitt had been. They even shared Kitt stories. There was no denying that, morethan anything, Mr. Kitt loved to be brushed.
Anyway, I digress. We were talking about Kitt’s memorial gathering which featured a slideshow chronicling his five years here. I’d forgotten what a clown he was, loving to be dressed up as Santa, or a Leprechaun, or a proper gentleman wearing a tie. Although he never told me so, I think Mr. Kitt was a butler in his younger years. He had the most regal and elegant bearing, never a hair out of place. He was properly polite when uttering an assertive meow, his form of requesting some type of service. Jan and Jim had the presence of mind to create a “memory book” to memorialize his service at the shelter. Being the thumbless tortie that I am, however, I couldn’t actually write my memories in said book, so I dictated my memories to one of my assistants. This is my letter. If there are any typos or grammatical errors, it’s her fault:
Dear Mr. Kitt,
I know we weren’t the best of pals, but I must admit that I miss you. In subtle ways you helped me run For the Love of Cats, watching over fresh crops of kittens while I made sure my staff was doing their assigned duties properly. But you had a habit of slacking off and taking unscheduled naps in that plush bed of yours in the food corner. I was sure you were sneaking food in the middle of the night, but I could never catch you in the act.
And yes, I admit that it must have been tough losing your forever home and your first mommy and daddy. Fortunately, a nice lady found you an opening here at For the Love of Cats. When the retired veterinarian who volunteers here examined you, she found all kinds of medical problems. The most serious was your untreated diabetes so we put you on twice daily injections of insulin, and you were such an unbelievably good sport about it. If I were you I would havefought tooth and nail to dodge these indignities. But not you.
You even had your own fur-brush. Whenever a volunteer opened the drawer under the microwave, there it rested with a post-it informing all that this was, indeed, “Kitt’s brush.” You would stand expectantly waiting for your spa treatment.
And okay, I have to admit that I was jealous. How did you do it? Nobody ever waited on me hand and foot, or catered to my every whim. My jealousy was mitigated, however, when I overheard the staff talking about the neuropathy in your hind quarters. I realized then, that you were genuinely mobility impaired and that was why you had that swanky, lumbering gait and needed help getting in and out of your condo. Even the cataracts couldn’t squash your happy retirement.
You were such a role model for the constant stream of kitties that came and went. However, I think it was you who told these youngsters to stop sneaking me food because I had all kinds of food allergies. It pained me considerably to watch you get all those treats I was allergic to. Okay, so you didn’t have a weight problem. In fact, when I first met you, you were a scrawny and emaciated thing who, at six-and-a-half pounds, fell far short of the 12-15 pounds a healthy Maine Coon cat should weigh. But my staff eventually got you up to your optimum weight
Through it all, the smile never left your eyes, until the end when you told us it was time to leave us. Mr. Kitt, you were an extraordinary cat and my staff and I miss you. We will always love you.
Love, nips, pats, and kisses, Naomi
Note to my loyal readers: Don’t forget to send those Kitty Santa Claws letters.
Naomi is a 4 year old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com