Happy Birthday, Ophelia!My black kitty Ophelia is celebrating her 16th birthday today. (Here is the link to her Catster profile.)
I don't know her actual birthdate—this is the date I assigned to her. She came to live with me when she was around 10 months old (according to the vet). At the time, I was singing in a band and finishing my undergraduate degree. We rehearsed at the drummer's house. The band was taking a break outside one evening, and this little black cat sauntered up to me, meowing her head off.
I picked her up—snuggly little thing. She instantly began purring and allowed me to turn her upside down (like a baby). My then-bf/bass player warned me that I didn't need another cat. The other two guys expressed their annoyance with her. Apparently she was always coming over to their house, hanging around, and wouldn't go away no matter what they did (they didn't like cats all that much).
Well, I liked her, and being a softie, I felt instantly protective of her (meanies, those boys). I examined her and found she had no collar... and to my horror, no claws! I squeezed and squeezed each paw hoping the claws would pop out as they do, but nothing emerged. Poor thing! I was outraged. Who would declaw a cat, then chuck her outside to fend for herself?
I set her down and we resumed rehearsal. The next couple of practices, she showed up every time to visit me. Finally, I'd had enough. I told her, "If you're lost and you need a home, be here at 4:00 PM next Sunday and you can come home with me." That was not our regular practice schedule, so I didn't expect to see her.
Sunday around 4:10 PM, I pulled into the drummer's driveway and what did I see?
That cat, sitting there, staring at the driveway, as if she'd been waiting for me to show up. I exited the car. She stood up and walked over to me, meowing. I'd brought the cat carrier just in case. We rehearsed, and I loaded her up and brought her home.
She had to live in Dad's bathroom for a week or so until she'd passed the vet tests (for contagious things) and until the Found Ads had been out for a bit. I didn't want to introduce her to Vince or Pandora if she was just going to go back to her real owners.
Two weeks passed. No calls about a lost black cat. All the tests came back clean. I released her from the bathroom quarantine, picked her up, snuggled her upside down, and told her she was safe now, and she was mine forever. She was so happy, she purred as loud as I've ever heard a cat purr.
She opened her mouth in a huge yawn, and stretched her front paws out in contentment. And that's when I saw it.
Plink. Plink plink plink plink. One by one, as she stretched, she unsheathed 18 perfect little claws.
That little stinker. She'd hidden her claws from me until there was no going back. And here, people were telling me she was a dumb cat (because she's so happy all the time, not a care in the world).
She has no idea she's 16 years old. All her teeth are gone, but her coat is sleek, and she's nicely plump. She races around like a kitten. She can't see or hear as well as she used to, but she seems oblivious to it. Unlike my other cats, who have agendas and whose brains are going non-stop, Ophelia is simply happy to be here. She's very Zen. The only agenda she has is to take up permanent residence in your lap and be petted. My guess is, she might be the rare cat who lives to be 30.
She's been a good cat these 15 years. Here's catnip toast to many, many more years together. I love you, Kittygirl.