La Gata Loca lived 20 long, full years. An Indianapolis street cat brought to Scott just a few weeks old, her first name was ‘Rocky’, cause she was tough.
Loca lived many places during her long life. After moving across the country to Seattle with her human, she lived in a succession of apartments, and then houses. I shared the last two with her.
Her penultimate abode was a tiny fisherman’s cottage in Ballard. It was on piers on the ship canal. She loved the way the old boards would warm up in the sun, but she walked carefully to avoid the spaces between boards, and there wasn’t any grass or trees, in the traditional sense, for her to appreciate.
After her brother Migo passed in 2008, Loca was lonely. She mellowed out. No longer a bitchy bully to her bigger brother, I grew to like her, and then to love her. Sure, she was noisy and demanding, but…I simply loved her. She made me laugh.
Laps were her favourite. You came to our house, the cat would make her way on to your lap. She would purr her broken purr and make you fall in love with her.
I have trouble napping; too anxious. When I really needed to rest I found the cat and put her on me. It’s hard to get up with a furrball peacefully sleeping on you. She was my ‘Nap Enabler’. For Scott, already an expert napper, she was the ‘Nap Extender’, encouraging longer naps when he needed them.
In fall 2008, we moved to our Hobbit House in West Seattle. Loca loved it here. In the summer she would sit outside all day, moving from sunny spots to shady spots. When we got chickens, she was afraid of them at first, but later had complete disregard for them. I loved how she would slip through their fence to drink their water, terrifying them with her mere presence. She was a small cat, tiny really, but the chickens didn’t know that.
For a while I let her sleep with us. She preferred to sleep on heads (warm). Sometimes she wrapped her wee head over my neck. It was adorable, but her loud, creaky purr-box made it difficult to sleep, and we eventually kicked her out.
Loca wasn’t really like a cat at all. She was more like a small fuzzy dog. She preferred to be with someone, preferably on them, and preferably being petted. When at all possible she would lie so that she was on both Scott and I at the same time.
Loca was already old when I met her. But she grew older still in the few years we had together.
She grew deaf. Always a bit chatty, she began announcing her every move: MEROWWRRR – I am heading to the bathroom! MEROOOWWWR – I am coming back to the bedroom! MEROOWWWWWR – I am jumping on the bed! MOROEOOWWWR – CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?!
She grew stiff. As the muscles in her hind quarters atrophied (arthritis?), she became smaller, and somehow rounder. To jump on the couch she dug her claws in and hauled herself up. So I built her Kitty Stairs and taught her to use them.
I also made her a box and we put an electric hot pad under a blanket inside it. She spent much of last winter there.
In the winter she spent most of her time on my lap as I worked from home finishing my dissertation. I loved how she would bury her face against me, or lean her head on my arm, my hand. Sometimes it was hard to work.
Lap time in front of the computer inspired the following images and words.
If I was a cat 2009 Apr 9
If I was a cat I would divide my time between lying in the sun, watching the birds, grooming, sleeping, and being petted. Not a bad life. I would go for walks and discover all the little daily changes in my world. I would meet strangers and ask to be their friend. I would never worry. And, I think, I would be happy.
If I was a chicken I would…
(doesn’t that say it all?)
If I was a cat 2009 Aug 13
If I was a cat, I would have a warm lap on a cold day. Happiness would be that simple. Pets and cuddles would be divine icing upon my ample cake.
Ode to a Fuzzball 2010 Feb 1
No photo can capture the weight and the warmth of her fuzzy little body nestled in my lap while I work at my desk. The chatter of her broken purr under my hand, burrowed against her soft, thick side. That satisfying little weight that leans into me, that moves when I breathe, and suggests that I don’t get up, not quite yet…
Cat in lap 2010 May 4
What is it about a small warm creature snuggled in your lap? Is it just one thing – her warmth? Her weight as she leans into me? Her happiness as she sits quietly and purrs? Her need of me? Or is it many things? Is it gestalt? I feel needed and useful. I am comfort and shelter and company. Is it human to feel this way? Is it because I am a woman? Is this how I would feel with my child on my lap? Would it be more or less – or just different?
Old cat 2010 Sept 15
Little old cat
Lying in the sun
Takes so long to shift around
But the day is long
And the sun is warm.
Ode to a small, stinky cat 2010 Nov 24
Small, stinky cat moves all day from lap to desk. Lap-desk-lap-desk-lap. Occasionally she falls to the floor for a drink of water (though she sneaks from my glass, saving herself even that trip, when I’m not looking). Mostly she is napping, but sometimes she just sits. And purrs. While I type type type.
Her last few days were difficult for her; she sat with us and we loved her. Sometimes she would purr. Loca was the first cat I loved. I am grateful for the time I had with her. She taught me about duty, about loving someone difficult, and about aging. She was the oldest person I have spent a lot of time with. She grew cranky and warty, she lost her hearing, got cataracts, had bathroom accidents. And I loved her anyhow. That was a huge revelation to me. Yes, it is easier not taking care of her, but I miss her.
Thank you God-Force-Thing for the random gift of this small cat-person.