June 10, 2004

Mi-Ha: A tribute

Snapshots In My Time, Of My Time.....Hauntings.

1987 Summer


I will never forget her. She was my first cat that I got after I moved out on my own. I was living in North Carolina and I had just broken up with a boyfriend. Needless to say that after the initial drama, turmoil, despair, the world is ending drama, I decided I needed a pet. A cat. That was the ticket. A pet would solve everything, be my constant companion and love me forever.
She did many of those things. We had a wonderful relationship!

I went to my local animal shelter and looked around at all the cats. After looking at all the kittens a shelter worker suggested an adult cat because if they were not adopted within a certain time they went to "kitty heaven." I was mortified. It was decided. If I could save an adult cat and gain a lifelong companion I would. I looked at the adult cars and there was one that caught my eye right away.

She was a beautiful, long haired cat with a multicolored fur. She looked like she belonged sitting on a pillow in a mansion that was owned by someone wealthy. She was beautiful. She did not look like any of the other strays. A domestic long haired tortoise shell was what she was. I claimed her. She was about 3 years old and was kind of a fat cat. The shelter staff thought she was pregnant. I was so smitten I wanted her that day, pregnant and all. I would keep all the kittens. That was impossible. The shelter staff said she needed to be spayed and if there were any little ones they would go to kitty heaven. I paid my $65 and went home to come back in 3 days.

In the interim I bought a litter box, litter, cat food and lots of toys. I was just a little nervous as well. I bought a car carrier and went to the shelter and collected my cat. I had decided on the name Mi-Ha. I was into oriental furniture and stylings at the time so her name had to fit in as well. The vet told me that she may be a little shy at first due to the new surrounds but in time we would bond. I got her home and opened the carrier door and just waited for her to come out on her own. It took about 15 minutes for her to do that. When she did she went under a glass coffee table and sat for about 2 hours just looking around and sniffing. I talked to her and showed her toys and just waited. I put out food and water so that she could hear me in the kitchen. Eventually she did come out from under the table and I picked her up ever so softly and showed her to the litter box and sat her inside. She sat in the litter box, which was enclosed, for another 2 hours. I called the vet just to be sure she was okay. The vet said that she had been in the shelter for a long time in a cage so she was used to being in "closed-in" spaces but she would get over that in time. The vet also told me that she had been living on the streets for sometime before she was brought into the shelter.

The next day I put out fresh food and water before I went to work. When I came back home the food was not touched. Instead the entire contents of my kitchen garbage can was shrewn all over from one end of the kitchen to the other end of the living room. This "garbage can ransacking" continued everyday for about 2 weeks. Onviously she was used to eating out of garbage cans instead of eating cat food. Cat food does not compare to the taste of scraps! Even if there was no food in the can, paper and whatever was in there was all over. Finally I locked the can in the utility closet daily until that stopped.

I grew to love her and she grew to love me too. Our bond finally clicked and she grew into the pampered pet that I knew her to be. She walked on a leash with no problems and people thought that was odd. I would let her go outside on a tethered leash as well. I did also let her roam free at times but only at late night when there was not a lot of car traffic. Where I lived in Chapel Hill, was a quiet community in the suburbs with lots of green spaces.

We had a lot of time together. From 1987 to the summer of 1999, the July 4th weekend. 12 long years together and she was 3 when I got her. She lived a very good life. She was my child before I had a real child. To any male who was in my life the rule was love me, love my pet. No love for the pet? Get out! Now! It was a good arrangement.

She left me in July of 1999. Our family reunion was being held in Canada that year --the Canadians of the family were hosting it that year. Mi-Ha became ill the day before we were leaving. I got home from work and she was not doing well. She was lethargic and did not seem very active. I called the vet in a panic because she was ill and I was slated to be in Canada for a week and not there to check on her. I was a woman gone crazy and it did not look good. I took her to the vet that evening, explained my travel arrangements, left all sorts of numbers and went to Canada with a broken heart. If Mi-Ha needed to go to "kitty heaven" I needed to be with her. I began crying at the vet even as they told me the bad news. She was old and was having kidney failure and most likely she would not be here when I got back from Canada.

They said they would do everything to keep her comfortable and pain free. I told them I would call everyday which I did. They would not give me any news really of her over the phone. They knew I was a crazy women when I left them. I had asked them to call me if she went to "kitty heaven." They did not in an effort to help me I guess. What I got was that they were doing all that they could. I finally resigned myself to the fact that MI-Ha was comfortable and pain free. I was not there but she would go to "kitty heaven" with the fact that she had been loved everyday of her life that I had I treated her like a queen everyday of her life.

The trip was finally over and after getting home after 6pm it was too late to go to the vet. I prepared myself for the morning and days of grief to follow. (Even now as I type this, I am crying my eyes out.) I got to the vet and Mi-Ha was gone. She was in a cold storage container. They did let me see her and pet her for one last time. They did not let me pet her for very long and believe me it was not long enough. She was cold and stiff but her coat was still beautiful. She was still beautiful.

The vet helped me make arrangments. I could never let her be away from me or go to the cold ground. I had her cremated and Mi-Ha is still with me today. She is in a beautiful, black, oriental, ginger-jar, cremation urn. Her favorite room was always the kitchen. That is Mi-Ha's home. Her urn and picture have a permanent location on top of the microwave on the kitchen counter. I still get to see her everyday! Commitments to pets really are for a lifetime!


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