It's been 17 years since this tiny, feral kitten came into our lives, urgently petitioning to be let into the house in the autumn of 1993.
Last night the time came for her to pass out of our lives and over the Rainbow Bridge.
Yes, I know the Rainbow Bridge is an invention of the author, but I think anyone who's ever loved or been loved by an animal companion can relate to the imagery; our friends no longer in pain, running free, enjoying each other's company and waiting for us to someday join them.
Those who've spoken to me on the phone have heard Cheetah's loud, insistent cry when she wanted something (usually more canned food) and many commented she sounded like a baby. Which of course she was. Our baby...
She was also our friend and companion, loyal and loving, and most definitely John's familiar. I remember very clearly in 1996 when he underwent several weeks of radiation therapy, little Cheetah didn't leave his side, except momentarily to eat and use her litterbox. If he walked up the stairs to the bathroom, she'd follow and wait outside the door, then follow him downstairs again. When he slept, she slept beside him. And this time last year, when John returned from a one month hospital stay following heart surgery, she began sleeping not beside him, but on him. It was as if she wanted to make sure he wasn't going anywhere ever again.
Making the decision to let a beloved friend go is never easy, but I know we did the right thing. With the help of our wonderful vet (who drove from home and opened the hospital at 9PM on a Saturday evening to do this), Cheetah's passing was peaceful and painless.
Goodbye, little girl. Run free, and boss all the other kitties around until we see you again. We'll miss you. ~♥~