Angie came into our life a few months after we lost our first cat, Pushkin. Technically, Angie came into our life after my wife Rhonda got tired of me moping about the house following Pushkin’s death and told me it was time to go to the Toronto Humane Society (now Toronto Animal Services) near us.
And wouldn’t you know it, one of the very first cats we saw was the splitting image of the recently departed Pushkin.
Well shit. Divine provenance or a test. Who can say. The potential Pushkin the second was in pretty rough shape fur wise; badly matted, dirty and none to friendly. But what the hell, he had just been brought in and was in no way shape or form comfortable with his surroundings.
So we waited…
The next day when we went in we found out that this cat had bit someone. Understandable since he had been caged, but not the type of animal we wanted to bring into our household.
We noticed a brother and sister, much younger than the old fella we had our eye on and were working ourselves up to them. As we were looking at the duo a lady from the Humane Society entered the room and saw us admiring the two young cats.
“You know, I’d take that black one in the corner there before I took those two.”
Rhonda and I had glanced in at the black one the lady had indicated but found her near the back of her cage eating. When we had tried to engage her, she had basically ignored us and continued to eat.
Not very sociable, we thought.
“Don’t let the fact she was at the back of her cage eating and paying no attention to you discourage you. She was an outdoor stray and, as such, makes the most of any food presented her.”
So we turned our attentions more fully to the black creature from the lagoon.
And there she was, front and centre at her cage bars, arching her back and rubbing against the rungs, purring up a veritable storm.
“Can we take her out of the cage?”
This from Rhonda.
“By all means.”
So what were we going to call her? Blackie? Ebony? Midnight? Inkspot? Too predictable. Too pat. We settled on Angie, named directly after the Rolling Stones song of the same name. Me being a complete and utter music freak and Rhonda being not to terribly far behind, it was a no brainer.
We took Angie to our vet, Dr Black, to have him check her out, make sure we weren’t buying a lemon as it were.
Angie was a three year old when we got her. She immediately entered our household and made herself right at home; both in our home and, more importantly, in our hearts. While she may well have been an outdoor cat in her previous life she certainly wasn’t going to be one in her new home. Save during the summer; Rhonda and I acquiesced and let her out during the summer months, but only when we were outside with her.
She immediately found every single depression in the ground under all of our fences and easily breached their defenses. Once we had all of these plugged she would still wind up in our neighbours backyard immediately to the back of us. How? We have no idea. The thought that the Angie we knew and loved near the end of her days could actually make the six foot leap up a fence to make her way into their back yard is foreign to us… and yet she must have. I made enough trips to our neighbours backyard for to retrieve her to verify the fact that she still made it out of our yard.
At some point or another, Rhonda and I decided that Angie needed a sister. Yeah, I know, but we were so much younger then.
The introduction of Angie to her newly minted sister Jade went just about as well as you could have expected. That is, so long as you expected the ruling Queen of the household to completely reject the usurper, to completely ignore us and pout for a couple of weeks. If you expected that reaction then you most definitely would not have been disappointed.
Since Angie was named after a Stones theme, it was only just that her sister should be as well. Thus Jade was named after Mick Jagger’s daughter.
Whereas Angie had been three years old when she joined our household, Jade was but eight scant weeks of age. Angie, God love her, deferred almost completely to the baby. Food is ready? By all means eat your fill and I will take what is left. Affection is there to be had? By all means get your share. There is more than enough love to go round in this house.
And how did Jade repay Angie for her troubles? Why, the same way that any spoiled child will repay their seniors. She tried to monopolize our affections at every opportunity. She attacked Angie at every chance. In a nutshell, Jade took everything that Angie offered her and then some.
And yet, Angie very rarely complained. From time to time she would look at Rhonda and I as if to inquire “and you brought this imp into our family because…?”
We had no response for that other than we thought she might have appreciated some company.
The “Cat Dynamic” as I liked to refer to it was born.
Angie spent the rest of her life deferring to the baby. And Jade gladly accepted.
She left us, just as January turned to February. Close but not quite right to the day that we first brought Angie home. It was her liver, you see. Leukemia? Cancer? Who can say; we heard both. Only one thing mattered. Our beloved Angie was sick and she wasn’t going to get any better. Oh sure, there was some treatment we might have affected, but when you are talking the possibility of success in terms of 5% maybe, MAYBE 10% then the question must become, why? Who are we really doing this for? Who is going to benefit from this decision which has been placed before us? Her or us?
Unlike so many pet owners Rhonda and I were afforded the opportunity to spend some time with our Angie before she shuffled off this mortal coil. Hell, unlike Rhonda and I with Pushkin who died on the operating table. Angie, who had always been pushing the 12 to 13 pound mark and was now reduced to eight to nine pounds thanks to her illness. At 15 1/2 years old we both, painfully, decided that she had earned a pass on us force feeding her for two months on the off chance that she might get better.
She was quiet, in her cage, upper level extreme right when we saw her last. So weak she could barely lift her head. Yet when we picked her up she still had a purr to give us, a purr to say that everything was alright, a purr to say that she still loved us. A purr to say thank you? We can only hope.
After spending an hour with her, trying as best we could to comfort her we had to take our leave. We could force feed her for two months on the slim chance that it might do any kind of good. But what good would that do when put up against the “big C”. We would have been deluding ourselves.
Rhonda, God love her, signed the papers that basically said we would not hold Dr Black liable for having her put to sleep.
The decision made we wanted to keep her collar for sentimentality sake. I went back up to see our Angie one last time. To save Rhonda from having to see her yet again, with the decision which we fully anticipated cast in stone to be sure.
Angie always hated to have a collar on. Hell, what animal ever likes a collar; a brand to be around their neck.
As I unhooked Angie’s collar for the very last time I kissed her on the forehead and whispered in her ear;
“Only the most special girl’s get to have their collars off.”
And she was; and she still is a most special girl.
Angie helped Rhonda and I get past the loss of our first pet, Pushkin.
Angie helped our much loved Jade be the cat that she is.
Angie will always be loved and most truly missed.