Dear God, this is Raven. Try not to piss her off.

One a grey and rainy morning in January 1992, a small black cat wandered into my life. She came through the open apartment door, jumped up on a stool beside the table I was scrubbing, and announced herself. Last Friday, I held her and cried on her and thanked her for being my friend while the vet gave her an overdose of barbiturates. She was eighteen and a half years old.

I could easily write 10,000 words about my kitty. She wasn’t actually black. She was a very dark tortoiseshell, and as many cat owners have learned, those lovely markings come with a special attitude.

Raven hated all other animals. At best, she could tolerate their presence in the room, but if they came within two yards of her, she hissed and spat. Closer, and she would attack. When I had roommates with pets, I kept a water pistol to chase Raven away from the other cats. Small as she was, she won nearly every fight she started, and she started a lot of them.

But she liked me, preferred me even. Given her choice, she would always join me at bedtime and sleep curled up next to my head or with her paw over my wrist. As I survived bouts of depression, with nightmares, loneliness, and feelings of utter and absolute failure, Raven stood as guardian and healer. I would wake in the middle of the night from a bad dream and find her awake, standing watch over me, purring. If I cried, she left what she was doing and came to me, and purred and nuzzled me until I could bear going on.

She was no pushover. I could play with her, but if I teased her, I found out (as Calvin and Hobbes once put it), that she was pointy on five of her six ends. The only person who could ever manhandle her was my younger brother. When I was home from college for the summer, I put him in charge of bathing her, after I’d found him holding her by all four paws and running her under the faucet, while she purred contentedly.

She loved men, the smellier the better. If my brother came in from mowing the lawn in July, she went into the throes of ecstasy over his armpits. She made sweet love to a friend’s down vest when he was over for a visit. He said he’d seen less explicit porn.

Raven was probably the toughest living creature I have ever known. She was six months old and pregnant when I adopted her. The most she ever weighed was nine pounds. I could not make her an indoor cat; she wouldn’t tolerate it. Instead, she would go out and pick fights with whatever pissed her off, and I would patch her up. At least three times, she had to go to the vet for an abscessed wound. She survived her first months on the street, survived an early pregnancy, then being spayed, then her Fight Club injuries.

In January of 2009, the vet told me she had kidney failure, and most cats at her stage lasted about six months. I got to keep her for 15 months. It wasn’t even the kidney failure that did it, though it played a role. I noticed about nine months ago that she was losing vision. She didn’t really play or do her psycho-kitty-zoom-zooms anymore. She had arthritis in her hips, and it spread. She crept. She was sore. She disliked being handled. Two weeks ago, I finally realized that it was no fun for her being the cat anymore, and to keep her alive any longer would be selfishness on my part.

She was my pet for eighteen years. Usually, I felt more like her pet than anything else. She was not some mellow, lovey-dovey, velcro cat. She was a perpetually pissed-off bitch kitty, and I happened to be one of the few humans she trusted and loved. I have an image in my head of St. Peter desperately holding Raven at arm’s length while she twists and claws. He grabs the PA and shouts “We need St. Francis up here, STAT!”. Hell certainly wouldn’t let her in. They know trouble when they see it, down there.

If anything, perhaps she’s at the end of the Rainbow Bridge. She’d make a most excellent Valkyrie, and I’m sure she’d appreciate the day-long brawling and sweaty Viking men at Valhalla. Save one for me, baby cat. I miss you terribly.

Aw. What an awesome tribute to an obviously loved, kickass cat. I hope she gets to be a valkyrie. I’m sure she’ll help shepherd you through whatever else you face in life, even if you only think you see her shadow darting ahead to smack down life’s troubles.

She sounds so sweet, in a non-sissy way! Very sorry for your loss.


Want a kleenex? I just happen to have the box handy at the moment. No reason.

Raven sounds awesome. I’d miss her too.

One of the best kitty-tributes I’ve read, especially the title. Thanks for looking after Raven and letting her go when it was time. ((phouka))

Sounds like a true companion.

That’s a fantastic tribute you’ve penned Raven there.

Beautiful eulogy. I feel like I knew your cat.

Some animals we know strictly on their own terms. Sounds like Raven will have no trouble claiming a table at Valhalla. Thanks for writing that.

I am so sorry for your loss. I’m glad I work from home so there is no one but my dog to ask why I have tears in my eyes.

Awww. :frowning:

One of my friends just lost a cat a few days ago. Nicodemus was the baddest food ninja I ever saw. He’ll be missed.

A cat to be remembered, sorry for your loss.

That was beautiful - I feel I really know your cat, and your relationship with her.

I have some dust in my eye now.

What a neat kitty, and a great tribute.

My condolences for the loss of your old friend.

Nicely written.

I, too, have a Queen Bitch of the Universe living with me, also about 16-17 years old. When she goes she’ll tear a hole in my heart.

This made me laugh and cry at the same time. I bet Raven is happy, wherever she is.

Sounds like Raven chose wisely. Take care of yourself, phouka.

Thank you.

More stories of Raven, because I can . . .

I moved a lot in my 20s, and the most important part was bringing her over and releasing her into the new apartment, then keeping an eye on her as she explored. She had a habit, as she wandered through the rooms or checked out the patio, of giving off a single meow about every twenty seconds. It was loud enough for me to hear in another room, and after thirty minutes or so, she’d stop. I always figured she was mapping the apartment with sonar.

Roomie’s grandmother was coming for a visit. What she didn’t tell us was that she was bring her obnoxious, poorly trained, yappy rat dog. Maybe a Yorkie. Had I known, I would have locked Raven in my bedroom. Instead, Granma arrives, sets dog on floor, dog spots Raven coming down stairs. bark! barkbarkbarkbarkba-hissPOW-YIPE-YIPE-YIPE-YIPE! I managed to get the cat upstairs and behind the door before I died laughing. I gave her many kitty treats.

Raven had the most Og-awful taste in catfood I have ever encountered. Fry up some chicken livers for her? She’d look at me as if I were both insane and stupid. Buy the expensive, all-natural, all-meat, no by-products, frou-frou, boutique catfood? She sneered and stalked away. Open a can of $.25 entrails and bug parts so disgusting my mom came downstairs with her hand over her nose to find out which sewer pipe had burst? Dug right in. sigh

The only time I ever managed to bathe her without losing an appreciable amount of blood was when my best friend from high school, an animal science major, was visiting. She found some old tube socks, cut the toes off, and we hair-banded them over Raven’s paws before we started. That night, Raven tried to suffocate my friend by sleeping on her face.

When she got beaten up in a fight (often), I had to put an Elizabethan collar on her while she healed. She was so small that in order to eat food from her bowl, she had to position her head so the lip of the collar sat on the ground, around the bowl - kind of like if you set a lampshade over the bowl. With a cat attached. A cat who chewed loudly and hissed if you came too close, because she knew just how silly she looked, and she resented it.

One time, turning over in my sleep, I managed to yank the sheet out from under her and spill her off the bed. She’d been sound asleep and must have thought she was being eaten. She went from zero to DIEKILLDIEKILLDIEKILL in a split second. I had to hold her for a couple of minutes until she calmed down, and then I discovered that she’d wet the bed.

The hummingbirds in the backyard took exception to her walking the fence and would peck at her head. For a couple of weeks there, she had several scabs on her head. Then she learned to walk down one fence, and when she got five feet away from the corner, she’d jump down, cut across the yard, and hop back on the fence five feet past the corner. It was the only time I’d ever seen her avoid a fight.

It seems I didn’t take many pictures of her, darn it. I understand why. Raven would repose in perfect Buddha-like serenity until I approached with a camera in my hand. Even the few shots I got of her, she’s in silhouette, even if the light is directly on her. That’s the problem with black cats. Still, I wish I’d taken more.

I dreamt two nights ago that I took over the sermon Sunday morning to tell the entire congregation how much I missed my cat, and I woke up feeling like an enormous dork. Dammit, I know I miss her. Can’t I dream about her and not feel like an enormous dork with no sense of social appropriateness? Damn, I miss her.

Kitties are the most wonderful beings. So glad you had the time with yours.

phouka -

Thank you for sharing your memories with us. She was truly a beloved cat, and well deserved that love. I wish I could have known her.