March 25, 1994

Kurt Cobain was still alive and The Counting Crows smashing debut album, August and Everything After, had just hit the stores and rocketed up the charts. Well, I’m not sure about that last part, but it should have! On/around 3/25/94, my cat, Coffee, gave birth to four kittens. Coffee, an orange tabby, and her mother, Meatloaf, a grey tortoise-shell, were not quite right in the head. They would give birth and the kitties would be sick or die for unknown reasons. But these four survived: Smokey (a furry grey), Cow (a white and orange tabby) Burger (a golden tabby) and Snakes (my beautiful tortoise-shell) survived. We had to give a lot of cats away before we finally got around to neutering them. And, though it grieves me, Coffee and Meatloaf ended up on a farm. Meatloaf was mean-spirited, and we joked around that the recording artist, Meatloaf, called his album “Bat out of Hell” after our insane cat. Our loopy cousin named her Meatloaf because she said she looked like her meatloaf recipe.

But I digress. Burger was supposed to be mine, Snakes belonged to Jeremy. Jeremy named her Snakes because she had a small, almost diamond-shaped head (You know the way itty-bitty kitties look?) She had vivid green eyes, and only one opened for a while. The extra “S” came from the fact that he thought it sounded mobster (even at 14, Jeremy was heavily into Good Fellas). No one ever wants to call a singular cat by a plural name. And when the vet calls, “Snake!?” in the office, undoubtedly, heads will turn. But it’s not a cold reptile. It’s my lovable little ball of fur.

Burger ran away and we believe a childhood neighbor adopted him, because we saw him one day. I urged him to come home, but he would not. At this time, Snakes had already adopted me. She ate with me, slept with me, hung out in my room. I have pictures of her laying alongside my pen and notebook or on my electric bass. I always equate her birth with a good year. The Counting Crows were phenomenal; I was writing and singing and dancing and losing weight and gaining confidence. And my buddy Snakes, was there beside me through it all.

She saw the tears after high school dances when the boy I pined for wouldn’t acknowledge my presence. She hid herself away when I smuggled her into my collage apartment after Mom moved and during a very difficult period of my life. She would even trip Mom when I called, from college, and “talk” to me on the phone.

In 2007, she was diagnosed with diabetes. We have a wonderful vet that I drive all the way out to Sweet Valley to see. After four years of diabetes, she’s still hanging in there. This morning, she was a bit under the weather and I was finally compelled to start writing about our lives together. Every morning we say the prayers. Every night we read a devotion and say the prayers. She gathers herself at my head and purrs me to sleep, and in the morning, gives me kisses. The early chapter book series Mr. Putter and Tabby (Pour the Tea, is the first one) reminds me of my Snakes and me. Today, I worry about how much time we have left on this earth. But I know that we will have eternity together.

My best friend, Lindsey, lost a special cat named Dickens, in her youth. An ignorant classmate chose the day of his death to inform her that “cats don’t have souls.” Though a non-violent person, I’d still like to punch that girl in the face for saying/believing that. Of course they do. Cats are family, friends, and kindred spirits. Robert Smith (The Cure) knew that. Here…listen to a cat-related ditty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6uKvcFB6wU

And please keep Snakes and myself in your thoughts and prayers today. I heard the Counting Crows’ “Long December” this morning and it inspired me to write this. In a month, Snakes will be 17. I hope we have a lot longer than that together.

Be well, rock on, and kiss your kitties more,

Rachael

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