Last night, my beloved feline companion of 15 years, Ecchi, died. I want to tell her story now. The associated picture gallery is mostly in chronological order, and covers her entire life.
Ecchi was born sometime in 2002, most likely, though her adoption papers guess that she was born in 2001. If I had to guess, she probably spent some time in an attended feral colony, or in a house, before making her way to the Toronto Humane Society. (Later in my house, whenever I’d open a can, she’d come running…though I never fed her regularly from them. I always wondered why she thought there was food for her in a can.)
My ex and I went to the Humane Society and looked at the cats. She picked out “Toshiba” right away – it didn’t take me long to realize she had a way with matching cats to people. The Humane Society told me she was “about 2 years old,” which I suspect was a way for them to get out of their commitment to spay or neuter any under-1 year old cat for free. (grr! She took a few months to come into heat before I could actually get her spayed, which is why I think they were lying to me.)
I adopted her into her “forever home” on 20 May 2003. Picture 1 was taken that first night at home. Just to the right of her in that picture was a mattress against the wall. She used to chase paper balls being thrown at it up the mattress to grab them, then bring them back to me. She loved that game; she played it throughout her life (Picture 7) right up until earlier this year.
For the first year or so that I had her, I fed her a home-made BARF diet – bones and raw food. I went to some effort to mix up ground meat, taurine, and other supplements in a vet-approved fashion. She would try and sleep on my chest, which was adorable, but also gave me terrible nightmares and triggered apnea, so I had to stop her from sleeping on the bed with me. It took a few years before she learned she could sleep at the foot of the bed; this is the one thing I wish I’d done differently raising her. She was very cuddly and loyal during this time. She learned that she could get my attention, then lead me to what she wanted attention with – her litter box needing cleaning, food, water, opening the door, etc.
I wish I had a picture, but that house had a front door with a very tall screen door on it. It had no A/C so I’d leave it open during the day during the weekends. Sometimes, an outside cat would come by and Ecchi would get very defensive – and she’d end up climbing the screen, and getting stuck up there. I’d have to run and get her down. It cracked me up every time. Over time, she started climbing the door just because she could…and I had to stop leaving the door open.
We moved a couple of times before settling down in a large house on the west side of the city with 4-5 other people. Ecchi didn’t really like all the people; during those years, she spent a lot of time hiding out under furniture. Everyone loved her, but they knew you had to be careful petting her, lest you get a nasty scratch or a bite. The pictures I have from her from that time are few and far between, but she left a very good impression on everyone I lived with.
I moved into my house a couple of years later. Between all of my trips, I had to board her for a couple of weeks once. She went off to a “cat house” run by a sweet old lady and her staff on the north side of the city. (The owner died, and the house shut down a couple of years later.) Ecchi spent those two weeks in close companionship with 30+ other cats, and it changed her. She became more gentle, more sweet, like she’d been when I first adopted her. The staff didn’t want to let her go!
Not long after that, she started acting weak, and I had to take her into the vet. She was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, which required a tube to be placed into her stomach and for her to be force-fed for a short while. She stayed at the hospital for a week or so (Picture 2), and when she came home, she took another couple of weeks to get back to normal. I always got the sense that she knew we took care of her; she seemed grateful, or at the very least, happy to be in a comfortable and secure place with people who would cater to her every need. Once the cone came off, she loved lounging on the couch, especially during those long MST3K Marathon parties I used to throw (Pictures 3, 5, 16 & 17).
She loved spending time in the garden (Picture 4), eating grass (Picture 12) or sitting in round things (Picture 11). Her time there was always supervised. She even chased a squirrel up the crabapple tree once! (Picture 8) But without anyone to watch her during the day, I wouldn’t let her out, and she pined at the window. So the cat walk was built (version 1: Picture 6, version 2: Picture 22) between the living room and kitchen windows, which let her experience outside anytime she wanted. She spent many a sunny afternoon out there soaking up the sun and watching the squirrels run back and forth.
Eventually another cat came to live with me – Mu. They never got along amazingly, so the few pictures I have of them near each other are kind of rare (Pictures 13 and 14). They didn’t fight seriously – though they did inspire a song on my last album with their nightly wrestling – but they did seem to appreciate each other’s company. Ecchi was always the smart one, an extremely clever cat.
She was a constant companion. The same day I got my Canadian citizenship, she was hangin’ on the couch, waiting for me to get home (Picture 9). She’d hang out in the music studio (Picture 18) or next to your computer (Pictures 19, 20, 21) waiting to be scritched. When you went away and came back, she’d immediately perch herself on your bag or clothing (Picture 23) to make it clear you were Not To Do That Again Anytime Soon. She wasn’t especially a lap kitty; she preferred sitting or sleeping right next to you. She even enjoyed sleeping on your head in the winter in bed, which took some getting used to. In this way, I always saw Ecchi as faithful, yet not *dependent* on me (except for basic needs). When I adopted her, I needed that influence in my life; she taught me a very important lesson.
The last picture I have of her is from a month ago, October 2017 (Picture 24). She had started to lose weight and was a little dehydrated; she got to spend time on that pillow as a treat. Her weight went up and down, some days better than others. Then last night, after I came home from dinner, she’d pulled herself under the couch and was mewling unhappily. She seemed to have lost all function in her hind quarters. The 24/7 vet said it was probably a saddle thrombosis – like a stroke – combined with kidney and heart failure. It was time to let her go. The last time I cried that hard was when my (grand)mother died – something else that Ecchi helped me get through, shortly after she joined my life.
I’ll never forget Ecchi’s gentle licks – she’d lick a finger if you put it in front of her face, so you could use it to smooth down her fur that she couldn’t get to easily her self, mostly her neck and head. It was a sweet gesture, one that could be counted on to let you know that all was right in the world. It’s one of the special things about her that I’ll miss most.
She was loyal, gentle, and cautious. That’s how I’ll always remember her. Thank you for reading this and sharing in my memories of her.