Her full name was "The Slinker," from the way she used to walk, low to the ground, head up and alert, almost like a little weasel. It was a legacy of having spent the first six months of her life living outdoors, in a field frequently hunted by red-tailed hawks. Several years of indoor living eventually ended that habit, but she was never at ease under a moving ceiling fan. As a result, the fans here at Roseholme rarely ran.
Slinky was always a sweet (though mischievous) little cat, for whom the world was born anew with every corner she turned. She was tiny; in midlife, she'd bulked up to almost eight pounds, but generally she weighed between four and five pounds. With huge ears, great big eyes and being very fine-boned, she always looked like a nearly-grown kitten. She was so elfin that one of her nicknames (and yes, it's hopelessly twee) was "the Fairy Princess Cat." Like the Little People of legend, she wasn't unarmed: her upper cat-fangs were unusually long; smoothing, she'd "teeth" you just a little and when yawning or with her chin up, she looked like a tiny sabertooth or vampire kitty.
Over the past week, she began having more and more difficulty navigating and by last night, I was concerned she might have become nearly blind.
This morning, a little before 9:00, she had a seizure. She'd had them before, at long intervals, but this one seemed especially bad; she was meowing in distress and couldn't stand. I made her comfortable and stayed with her while Tam fetched a phone and dialed the vet. They advised taking her to the emergency clinic (Noah's Pet Hospital, where I've taken my cats before) but but the time I'd changed from robe and nightgown to jeans and a T-shirt (Tam stayed with Slinky), she'd stopped breathing and did not have a perceptible heartbeat.
My vet is half as far away as the pet hospital and a hasty call later, I was on my way to the vet's office. The vet did find slow heartbeat -- once every couple of minutes -- but it was too late and had probably been too late from the moment the seizure started.
I took awhile to say goodbye and to remind her to be a good kitty.
Last night, I'd thought about letting her sleep on me awhile, and passed it up. I wish I hadn't; there was nothing she liked better than to get comfy right on my chest, purring and kneading. She'd stay and nap for about an hour and then she'd have had enough, hop down and demand to be let out of my bedroom.
Slinky was a good cat. After 19 years, she was like a person to me (in fact, Corporal Slin- in one of my Starship stories is based on her; each of the three USSF reservists is based on one of the cats of Roseholme Cottage). I miss her.
(A little more about Slinky and her Daddy. Also here).
CHICAGO RAILROAD FAIR, 1948
3 days ago