By Isabella @TheWandCarver
How do I write a proper tribute to the best friend I’ve ever had? Some of you may snort with laughter and think me sad when I tell you. This outstanding and loving friend was my cat of 17 years, Chili “Boots” MacGillicutty. We shall just call her Chili. Sometimes we called her Princess…other times, Monkey, as in cheeky as hell. Once in in a while we also called her Diva. She could be a right little madame when she wanted to be. But, she was always loved by everyone in the family. Right down to my self-professed “cat hater” ex-husband. No, he really doesn’t hate cats. As a matter of fact, he was always the one to haul us to the Veterinary surgery when Chili needed to see her doctor…which was often this last three years. And, he was always the one to pay for the expensive bill and allow me to make payments back to him. He was also the one who would sit in the room with us whilst she was being seen to. And, Monkey showed me up one day when she took umbrage with something I did or said in the room and she went and steadfastly sat by “daddy” and completely mugged me off, blanking me entirely, and didn’t forgive me til after we came home! They had a good bond.
As I said, Chili had been ill the last three years. I had blogged about her bouts with renal failure, hyperthyroidism, and hyperesthesia. She would get knocked down but get back up again. You can’t keep a good cat down and she might get melancholy for a few days, but she would pull up her boot straps and get back on with life. Mind, it could take a lot of praying to the Divines, Bastet [Bast], and positive talk to get her going, but she would get going. She had only just been back to the Vet’s last month for her yearly thyroid blood work. Turned out they need to increase her dosage on her medication but everything else seemed fine…apart from the fact she had lost some weight again, something she sorely did not need to do. Still, no red flags came up where I was concerned because we had been down this road many times over the years…she would lose, gain back, lose, gain back… began to become her party trick, it would seem.
But she began eating less and less. I changed her food to one she really shouldn’t have but she loved, as she was on the Royal Canin wet food for renal failure cats, but it is so important to keep a cat eating so I would have fed her anything at that point just to keep her eating. I did notice that she was favouring one side of her mouth but here is the thing: she has always had a funny little thing she would do with her mouth from time to time that the children and I would laugh about and say it was her “Billy Idol sneer”. She had this for years. And her Veterinarian always checked her gums and teeth and smelled her breath but made no mention of a gum problem. She did have a fang on that side which had chipped some years ago, but it never seemed to make a difference. As it happens, it was what got her in the end, an abscessed tooth [she never once cried in pain!] and neither one of us knew til too late. I won’t dwell because this blog is about how phenomenal my girl was, not a whinge sesh over why this happened.
Chili came to live with us as a feral cat on 9 April 2001. She was about 10 months old which I reckoned made her a June baby, so I gave her my Mum’s birthdate, 19 June for general purposes. And, I do think that suited her because she did have a lot of my Mum’s tendencies. And she could be mad as a box of frogs at times, like Mum. A true Gemini, ha ha… I love Gemini’s so please take no offence here. Poor girl was fearful as you would imagine and hid a lot in the beginning but then she took to lying on the settee beside of my then-husband, the now ex and “cat hater” – not. It seemed she had chosen him as her human. But then as she became braver she would hang around with my two daughters in their room and even allowed them to dress her up now and again. That was the true test of her willingness to be in a family of daft humans. She didn’t bolt for the door once. Still, after a time, she must have grown tired of that scene because one night, I hear my bedroom door crack open softly. Suddenly, I had a warm furry cat making herself comfy in the space between me and the edge of the bed! Just like that! So, I just started stroking her fur and she purred. I was so happy! This became the norm for every night thereafter.
About a year later when my husband and I were going through our divorce, Chili would lay beside me in the middle of the bed instead of cliff-hanging the edge. She would wake me up with nose kisses and small wet pecks at my eyelids. How I wish I had a camera for the times I would wake up to her standing on my chest – ouch! – and peering down into my face. Not to sound crude but she would then, after I managed to get up, follow me to my en suite bathroom where she would sit with her back to me, expecting her back scratched whilst I sat there! As a matter of fact, no matter where she might be in the house, as soon as she heard the bathroom door shut, she would be there like lightning, stand up and push the door open with her paws and come in and situate herself for her back scratchings! That was my Diva!
As a matter of course, I had met someone new and got remarried. Those were three of the most turbulent years of my life and a horror. My Chili got me through those days. She taught me bravery and faith. She also taught me to look things in the eye and face them down. I honestly couldn’t have gotten through it all without her.
Then came then wonderful ten years of living in our maisonette. We had a game she loved playing… whenever I made up the bed or changed the sheets, I would throw the sheet over her and go round tucking it in calling out “Where is Chili?? Where did she go? Chili must have gotten lost!” and she would lay very, very still. Once the bed was made up, I would call out for her again, “Oh where did my Chill go? I’m going to miss her!” And then, sure as, she would wriggle herself out of the middle of the bed and pop out miaowing as if to say, “here I am, ya dafty!”. She loved jumping from the corner of my dresser to the bed. It was quite a distance but 9 times out of 10 she made it. And I could not help but laugh a little when she didn’t for she would pop up onto the bed and look around as if she wanted to be sure no one saw. But I did. She would lay on a chaise lounge by my desk every day whilst I tweeted during networking hours. Wherever I went, she was beside me. And, yes, she still followed me to the bathroom and let herself in for a back scratching!
Just about four years ago we moved into our bungalow. She was older but still fat and healthy. But a year in and she began losing weight and hiding under my desk for weeks at a time. Oh yes, she would eat and go to litter tray, but she didn’t come to bed with me. I took her to Vet’s and this is when we found out she had hyperthyroidism and renal failure. It began the roller coaster ride I never thought would happen but oh did it. But I made a promise to her after she chose me to be her human and that was that I would always take care of her, no matter what. So, to the best of my ability, so I thought anyway, I did all I could for her to help her through the rough patches and to keep her healthy as I could. Sometimes I didn’t do very well at it. She still loved me anyway. Then, Wednesday morning 25 July 2018 at approximately 5 am my gorgeous princess Chili passed gently away in my arms. One of the last things I did was sing her one of my silly little made up songs about her. No two were ever the same but she got them. Her suffering was over, and she was born into the Summerland where she could feel well and happy again and probably see her friend Sam [a gorgeous long-hair fellow once owned by old cat hater 😊] again. Chili didn’t often suffer the presence of another cat, but she adored Sammy. We buried her as Egyptian-style as possible wrapped in her favourite blanket that I had only washed that very day for this very reason… I printed a picture of us together and wrote of my love for her and wished her well in her new adventure, added two sixpences for her passage, and some of her food to her coffin aka a perfectly sized cardboard box with a lid. Sadly, I was out of cypress as we always add cypress wood to our pet’s graves. I think I shall cover her burial mound with cypress as soon as I can, however. Then, we laid her to rest in our back garden… in a place I had made a mental note of only a day before as a pretty place to bury her and during a waxing gibbous moon, just a day from full moon, she was interred.
I know this blog is a bit all over the show and I have written better. I just wanted to get my feelings and the cute things and the love out on paper, so to speak. I don’t want to forget but I am older and all… it is bound to happen, losing some smaller details. But I shall never, ever forget that I love her. And she will always occupy my heart, the place where she always wanted to snuggle against when she were feeling her most poorly. Rest in peace, my Angel. I love you.
“The prettiest girl in the world
Is my Chili girl
She’s ever so sweet
And you will love to meet
My lovely Chili is a treat.”
~A silly Chili song by Isabella
In Memory of a Wonderful Friend
Chili “Boots” MacGillicutty
B. 19th June 2000
D. 25th July 2018
Forever in my heart