That was how we always described her, because it fit.
Kiera The Cat.
Leah adopted her in March of 2006, and the shelter thought she was about a year old at that point, so we always celebrated her Gotcha Day as her birthday. I didn’t come along until 2013 (the second time around), so she knew the kitty way longer than me. (By now, I’ve outlasted her first two husbands, but they were dumbshits for letter her get away in the first place. In eight years, we’ll celebrate again.)
Cats talk to other cats at a frequency that humans can’t hear. Thus, when your cat makes a sound, they are talking to you. Many people don’t listen. Those that listen don’t pay attention.
We always tried to understand what she was telling us. And she was incredibly communicative.
Kiera was a rescue. Her first people had moved out of their apartment and left her behind (there is a special place in hell for folks like that), so she was always a little nervous about being abandoned again. Leah was a good person to adopt her, because she worked from home, so Kiera could always wander in and find her. Or sit where she could see her person.
When I came along, it took some time for her to warm to me, but I remember Leah telling me about Kiera hearing my truck outside. I couldn’t find a spot, so pulled by the house, then had to wander around the back of Capital Hill until I did.
Kiera had recognized the sound and hopped up on the back of the couch. She knew it was me. Eventually, she came to even like me, but initially I was just this guy.
Leah and I met the second time in 2013 and were engaged in 9 weeks. It worked. I had a place in the mountains when we got married in 2015, while she kept her house in town. I’d spend a night during the week sometimes, then we’d generally alternate weekends here and there, with kitty riding out in the carrier and going bumpety-bumpety-bump up my long gravel driveway.
Leah built herself a tiny house here in 2018 and moved permanently. Kitty would spend the week with her, then come over to the main house on Thursday so Leah had a night to herself, then both of them were over for the weekend and would head back on Monday morning.
So Kiera got used to me. Got used to the three of us sitting on the couch together.
She was not a lap kitty until 2018. (Mind you, a 13-year-old cat suddenly becoming a lap kitty.) She preferred Leah, but would settle for my lap on Thursday nights. Helped that I ran warmer.
And she communicated. If she yarped and hopped on the couch, she wanted lap. If she called from the towel, she would flop as soon as I got there for scritches. (She preferred my nails, for whatever reason.)
Her interpretive dance was always on point, because we’d talk to her and she would answer. Headbutts when she wanted head scritches from me. That’s a single finger, right in the middle of her forehead, while she moved around to the right spot.
When she was done, she would move her head slightly away and I stopped. Because I listened. If scratching her back, there would come a point where she would squirm away and put her paw on my hand, popping all of her claws out exactly enough to touch, but not scratching. Just telling you she was done.
The only time she ever drew blood, Kiera was jumping up onto the couch and I was wearing shorts. She missed her length, landed on me, and sank in to grab, because usually I had on jeans or maybe a blanket.
And she felt terrible later when she realized what she’d done, because she curled up next to me and purred a lot that night, to make it all better.
She talked. We listened.
This has been a hard week.
Monday night, she stopped eating. Threw up, then peed on the bed, but it wasn’t because she was angry. She was in pain. We didn’t know that. Laid in her butt warmer in pain and gasping, but settled after twenty minutes or so.
Tuesday morning, she missed the litter box (tried, but losing muscle control. Again, we found out later.) and was lethargic, so we took her to the vet. They ran some tests. 10.5 pound three weeks ago at her mid-year appointment had dropped to 8.3 pounds in two weeks. They gave her an IV and she perked right up for several hours. They were good hours.
Wednesday morning, she was in bad shape. Lethargic. Weak. Not eating. Not drinking. Doctor called in the morning with the blood work and her kidneys had shut down. Acute Renal Failure. Humans can do dialysis to stay alive. I’ve had friends on it for years.
It is not an option with a cat. All we could do was make her comfortable. Wednesday night, I took some pictures, because she seemed to be okay in her butt warmer. Not talking much, but not in pain.
Thursday morning when I get up, Leah lets me know that it won’t be long, so I got dressed and went over to spend a final morning with the kitty.
She’d lost control of her back legs at that point, so she was on her favorite towel. A few times, she tried to crawl away so she could die in privacy, but she’s an indoor kitty, so all she could to was turn her back on us, but eventually, she turned back.
We let her know that we were there, and it was okay for her to go. That she’d had a good life with lots of laps, and purrs, and treats, and bunnies, and squirrels, and those goofball chipmunks. That we loved her and were there for her. And that it was okay to leave, because I’d take care of Leah.
Kiera eventually rolled onto her side and we tried to get her to sleep, but she wanted to watch mom, so Leah and I changed places.
At one point, she tried to scratch her ear, but didn’t have control, so she could only thrash a little. But I listened. And reached over and scritched it for her. She settled. Gasped a few times.
And I’m a hot mess this morning, because I came out of the bathroom and she wasn’t there in her buttwarmer, gargoyling and waiting for her breakfast. That was our Friday routine. She could see into the bathroom, and had the entire process timed.
She knew. And knew she would be fed as soon as I got dressed. Always. First.
She was a good kitty.
Bestest kitty girl ever. We told her that we loved her. And spoiled her, though the minioning was always not up to a kitty’s standards. As if anything ever could be.
Because she talked, and we listened. Communicated. Understood.
And now she’s gone.
I built a cairn for her yesterday so she could always be where Leah could see her. Always see the birds she loved, and the critters hopping by.
Always be right there. Hopefully at peace, because she was an amazing friend.
And I miss her miaowing at me.
March 2005 – November 2023.