She Did It Her Way
My dear Bathsheba died last week.
Some of you may remember Bathsheba’s story. I had lost my six-year-old black cat Gus to stomach cancer in August of 1991, and by October of that year I was ready to add a kitten to my household. I was seeking a male to join my 13-year-old Maine coon named Precious. I had a friend in my office who always seemed to be in the know when cats or kittens needed a good home. A friend of a friend of hers had a cat with kittens. They were barn cats that were born under the back porch of a farmhouse that was enveloped by creeping suburbia. All were polydactyl—having extra toes.
The males of the litter were already spoken for, but I chose feisty Bathsheba at 8 weeks from the females. She and Precious got along from the start. When Jake was added to the mix two and a half years later (through that same friend), she became the odd girl out because she barely tolerated him.
For a while, I kept Bathsheba inside and would only let her out under strict supervision. Of course, she loved the outdoors. When my ex-boyfriend moved in with me and worked from home, he allowed the cats much more outdoor freedom. Bathsheba became a masterful hunter and was remarkably successful with our abundant squirrel population. She once nabbed a squirrel as I hosted a public garden tour. Some guests were appalled, but others asked if I would rent her out to them!
Unfortunately, Bathsheba’s love of the outdoors caused me considerable consternation on several occasions. Sometimes she would spend the night outside, but on two separate occasions, when she was about five and six years of age, respectively, she disappeared for more than a week. Both times she simply reappeared from the woods calling me with her baby meow as if nothing was wrong. Never mind that I had scoured the neighborhood, put up signs, and called the local animal shelters. She also managed to lose the collars I would put on her back in those days.
Bathsheba was never what you would term a “cuddly cat,” but she did have a special connection with me. Whereas Jake would flee from me when I would cry, Bathsheba always came to me and offered a head to scratch and a soft purr. She did not like to sleep up close to me, but she would sleep down by my feet. When I worked in the garden, she liked to watch me, staying just out of reach.
As she aged, Shebie became more of a homebody, knowing that she was safe inside. She lost her hearing and, near the end, became blind in one eye with limited vision in the other. She did still enjoy sniffing the air on the deck, but she no longer ventured beyond the fenced yard that had never confined her in her youth.
Eighteen years is a good, long life for a cat, and she enjoyed good health for nearly all of them. I will miss my dear Bathsheba and love her always. She will never be forgotten.