Miss Kitty, named for an old TV character, was my mother's precious, beautiful white cat, who kept her company in her golden years until Mom went into the hospital for the last time.

My husband and I had cared for Miss Kitty from time to time when Mom was ill or out of town, so she was familiar with our home and with Judah, the feline head of our household.

Miss Kitty was perhaps the most mellow and affectionate of her kind that I'd ever encountered, and I've had at least one cat in my life for many years.  Her two favourite loving gestures were to touch her soft pink nose to my nose in greeting and in consolation when I was sad, and to purr a lullaby when I found it hard to sleep.  She never failed to cooperate, which is saying a lot, as anyone who is owned by a cat can attest.

When Mom could no longer care for Miss Kitty, we took her into our home, where we kept her until she was 19, when she went Home to rest, after battling for months with severe kidney trouble.

During her last night with us, I stayed awake, praying for her and petting her, assuring her that she was the sweetest one we'd ever had, and telling her that it would probably be a long time before we could bear to bring in another pet.

Six days later, my husband persuaded me to accompany him to a shelter, "Just to look at some kittens," he said.  I protested that it was too soon, reminding him that Miss Kitty had been gone less than a week.

I told him that maybe some day I'd be able to care for another cat, but not now.  He reminded me that this shelter is not a no-kill facility, and that any of these precious babies who are not adopted would probably be put down.  "But it's too soon," I kept saying.  "It's too soon after Miss Kitty!"

We walked into a room that had three cages, each holding a kitten aged eight or nine months.  One of them began to purr from across the room the minute she saw us, and a stab of something like urgency went through me.

I scooped up the eight-month-old pastel calico kitten, and the first thing she did, as I was holding her against me, was to touch my nose with her soft little nub.  A voice sounded in my head, and I'm convinced that if Miss Kitty had had a human voice when she was with us, it would have been hers.

"It's never too soon to love," the voice whispered.  "Take her home and love her, with my blessing. She needs you."

We discovered four days later that the poor kitten was seriously ill with a virus, and we knew that no one at the shelter had been aware of this.  We felt certain that she would have been put down before long if we had not adopted her.

That was nine months ago, and today Phoebe enjoys a happy and healthy life, purrs at the slightest touch from anyone, meows a thank-you when food is given to her, and at bedtime, just before purring her good night song, touches her nose to mine, as if to whisper, "Miss Kitty says hi.  She's watching us, and she says it's never too soon to love."

Sierra Boyles <superct at bellsouth.net>

Sierra says, "We live in central Mississippi, happily married with only cats for children.  I am retired from state employment, and my husband still works."

This story by Sierra first appeared in Petwarmers on 17th February 2010

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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