I found this, in draft form, in my archives tonight. I wrote it on March 11, 2006 and I'm not sure why I didn't publish it. I think I might have been looking for a certain picture...
Well, JJ deserves her due, ten and a half months late though it may be. Here's the post:
One evening more than twelve years ago, I went to the grocery store and, like many people, came home with more than I'd planned.
Snaking out of a neighboring subdivision, a few yards from a major highway, I saw in the darkness a glint that I knew very well: light reflected from a cat's eye. In the faint street light huddled the tiniest brown homeless cat. I pulled over and tried to lure the little one toward me. She (as I would later learn) would have none of it. I was terrified that she'd get run over, but she refused to be caught. So I continued on to the store, purchased one can of cat food, and returned to the scene. The little one was still cowering near the side of the road, and while she was still skeptical, she wasn't then -- or ever -- one to resist food.
I took her home to keep her safe, only until I could find her a good home.
Apparently, though, she found one on her own, because she never left us until two weeks ago today, when I had to have her put to sleep. Even now she's with us, buried in the back yard.
Back then, we'd already had major shakeups in our cat population. That Labor Day, our Semmi was murdered by a kid (we presume) with a BB gun. We found him lying dead in our backyard, headed toward home, obviously trying to get to us, whom he thought could help him. We found him too late. That reduced our cat rollcall to one, our alpha male Shadow, who literally took to his bed for two weeks, having (we've always presumed) witnessed Semmi's death. (Our cats no longer go outside.) In my grief, the next weekend I stopped in at a house displaying a Free Kittens sign and brought home my beauty queen Molly. Shadow took poorly to his new roommate, and to this date she steers wide of him. Only a few weeks later, then, I came home with this additional interloper.
The first few nights we kept the homeless one locked up in the bathroom, but ours was then a family of three kids and two other cats, and this became just plain impractical.
There's no way to know how long the little one lived on her wits, but when I took her to the vet, I was told that her teeth indicated she was much older than she looked. She looked like a ten-week old. She had a hole through her ear, as if she'd been in a fight with another cat, or maybe more likely due to its placement, a fool kid had pierced it. Her sides bulged as if she were pregnant, although she wasn't (she remained mishapen her whole life; strangers would always assume she was pregnant). She was the chalky brown color of a Hershey's bar that had been in the refrigerator. She'd been through some hardships, so integrating into the home of a grouchy alpha male was simply no big deal. In fact, the little one, whom we eventually named JJ when we gave up the pretense that we weren't keeping her, took an immediate liking to the big antagonistic black cat. She would repeatedly nudge against him as if to insist that they become friends. And they did.
In those first few weeks, thanks to decent nutrition, JJ's coat turned from brown to jet black. (Even at the time of her final illness, her fur was soft as a powder puff.) This made her look like Shadow's shadow, as if she was destined to be his new soul mate.
Part of my delay in getting this posted was, oddly, my problem finding appropriate pictures. In the olden days when we used film cameras and my children were at home, I'd develop rolls of film and find about 14 pictures I had taken of children, etc. --and ten cat pictures taken by the kids. Now they all seem to be...where?
Probably the funniest thing J ever did was try to catch the cats on TV. From time to time I'd borrow a video camera. When I filmed my frisky new kittens playing outside and played it back on the TV, J noticed (as she got older, she quit watching TV, though). I don't remember how she managed to reach the screen in the beginning, but after that, we would pull a chair up to the TV, turn on the video, and watch her go. (I look at this picture and see that old TV, that old VCR, that old stereo...)
Here's the best of the last of the pictures I took of J, the day after Christmas. She's on the left, trying to nap with Shadow (napping together is what they did with 50% of their time).