She came to me a sunny day in February, 13 years ago, a small ball of energy, curiosity and attitude, at three months old, so small and with so much hair and whiskers, she looked like an explosion of fur. Wearing the black mask and mantle, she looked like she’d been dipped in white paint, had freckles of black on her stomach and her toes and a black smudge on her nose, as if she’d gotten too close to the chimney. Her coat was silky, the softest thing I’ve ever felt and the thought that I’ll never touch her again makes my heart hurt with tears.
I had dozens and dozens of names for her, variations of her name - Mo, Moj, Mo Po, descriptors like Princess Paws when she was pawing at me to hurry up with food or trying to get me to share my dinner, Yelly McYells-A-Lot (again, food-related), Princess Poopypants (did I tell you about the colitis?), the Psycho Cat from hell (nail cut), Mojo the Wondercat, Her Royal Catness, my Miss Cat and my pretty girl. She was my mother’s grandcat, my sister’s niece, Michele called her Duchess and I’d taken to calling her David’s stepcat.
Because of the RA, I was never able to pick Mojo up, make her do things, so our relationship was a negotiation of equals (who am I kidding – I was her minion). We talked things out (and I usually did what she commanded), she had different sounds for different needs, another batch for when she was just chatting and her purr was the rumble of a much bigger cat (hence the nickname Rumblestiltskin). Mojo never saw or felt harshness from me and despite her attitude, was the gentlest cat – even when she swiped at Barb to try to intimidate her into giving up on the meds, the claws were always retracted. She talked big, but was a complete softie.
From the first, she took up a lot of room - she was never a subtle cat. Mojo knew how to make her wishes clear, even through posture, sitting at me loud enough that it could be heard through walls – when I “heard” her in the kitchen, I’d investigate and there she’d be. Sitting at me. For a while, I thought it might be habit – I’m in the kitchen, naturally she’d perk up - but when I meditated at night, sometimes, I’d sense her and when opening my eyes, see her sitting by my feet, wanting a brush.
She had rituals, many, many rituals. I joke that to me, if you do it twice, it’s tradition, but with Mojo, you did it once and if she liked it, it was tradition. She had a very definite ritual with my mother that must be followed to the letter, sweet and funny games she played with each of my attendants, each one different, had another ritual with Dave the Wheelchair Repair Guy and grumbled at Barb when we gave her meds, but throughout this past, hard month, it became clear that she loved Barb, too.
Sometimes, I thought she was part dog, the way she went to the door when there were noises in the hallway, my little guard cat protecting her domain. She loved me fiercely, was my shadow - when I was out of my wheelchair, she was in it, when I went out, she’d sit by the fan in the livingroom, looking at me with big, reproachful eyes (you’re going to have fun without me??) and often still be there, in the exact same position when I came home 30, 40 minutes later – that is, if she wasn’t right at the door the instant it opened, waiting to inspect the hallway. When I went to bed, she’d finish her rounds, checking the territory, then come to the bedroom – for something so light, she had a surprisingly heavy step, so I’d hear her approach - and jump on my bed with a soft thump. We’d hold hands for a while and I’d run my knuckles over her cheekbones and she’d purr, transported, and give my hand a wash. She’d wake me up in the middle of the night for a cuddle, either by a soft paw tap on my cheek or, if that didn’t work, by sitting on my chest and she’d come to get me for a brush when she wanted one, regardless of what I was doing and naturally, I dropped everything and we’d commune.
Mojo was magic and not just for me. She converted many of my attendants who don’t like cats, but loved Mojo, purely by being herself and insisting that they be her friend. She’d run to greet everyone at the door, ask for pats and if people were tardy in offering worship, loudly inform them that now was the time, her friendliness and loving nature winning over everyone. Her job was to be cute and she was good at it.
I've mentioned before that were Mojo a car, she’d be a lemon – I’ve spent a lot of money on her health (tip: get pet insurance), time and again some really excellent vets brought her back, made her better, helped her. The past month has been hard and although we tried to get ahead of the problems, tried to give her ease, it moved fast. From mid-January, in only 3 weeks, something claimed her bladder, drained her health, melted off her weight and dimmed the light in her eyes, less and less the brightest green. I had time to wrap my head around it, but not to wrap my heart around it, the fact that her time was measured first in months, then weeks and then, let’s send her home from the hospital and see what the weekend brings.
At first, it was OK and then, quickly, it was not. We tried our best, we tried everything, but this time, there was nothing left to try. This time, there was only love left and it was time to give her peace. On Saturday, her vet, Jean-Sebastien Palerme and her favourite tech, Eric, came to my home and Mojo and I said goodbye to each other. She died in my arms, my hands and my mother’s stroking her, words of love in her ears to the last. It was a lovely and gentle end, everything she deserved.
I want to thank everyone at The Animal Clinic for all they’ve done for my wee, opinionated cat in the past 13 years and everyone at the Veterinary Emergency Clinic and specialists Drs. Kevin Finora, Dawn Martin and Brendan Ringwood, who tried so hard to give her more time, better time. And especially Eric the Cat Whisperer, who taught my darling girl that people in scrubs can be trusted and who was there at the end, making this last needle easier for her.
Mojo was my child substitute, my companion, my familiar. She was my girl, my darling, my sweetness. She was part of everything I did, day and night, for 13 years. I miss her more than I can say.