“My goodness! What’s the key to her long life?” This is something we were often asked about our 19 year old kitty Sommer. 19.5 years, actually. There was no simple answer for us. She saw three siblings go before her. She has seen many vets in her life, particularly when we were traveling, and we’ve had to actually prove her age to people who thought (for some reason) we were lying.
So here’s what we did. Adopt her out of a questionable foster home and make her an indoor-only cat. Give her a fur family. She likes to bathe them. She will love them, particularly the boy kitty named Bailey. She also asks for kisses from you, so oblige and kiss her. Talk to her often. She will talk back, oftentimes at the very minute you unclick your mute button on a conference call. In fact, she’ll wait for someone on the call to say “anything else?” and she will emphatically say “MROW!”
When she’s accident-prone, bring her to the vet and explain that yes, she got her tail caught in the fan while it wasn’t even running (how did that happen?). Have her move with you through six apartments, three houses and travel with you. She will claim the loveseat as her own.
Surround her with as many pingpong balls, fur mice and scrunchie balls she wants. Give her caves. In fact, give her several caves. She loves caves. As she gets older and she sees others go before her, recognize that she actually likes being the only cat. Let her be the Cat of the House ™. Open the sliding glass doors and let her go out on walkabouts within the lanai, morning and night. Give her stars. Allow her to watch “TV” (birds in the trees, geckos in and out of the lanai). Let her stick with you like glue. Tell her she’s yours and you’re hers. Let her be the dog in cat’s clothing. Allow her to fetch and exclaim her happiness in seeing you. Have her sit on your lap while you work. She’s helping! And yeah, let her boss you around a bit and demand because gosh darnit, she’s earned it. And if on the off-chance she goes into the pool, dive in right after her and let her cuddle with you as she dries off. (Yes, this happened. Due to her anemia she lost her balance and started swimming – now proving both Kim as a hero to Sommer whereas Chris is the hero to Piper).
Give her nicknames and speak to her about cultural references. Call her Ms. Bigglesworth (Austin Powers), exclaim “You are so funny Ms. Pussycat, Ms. Pussycat!” (Tom and Jerry). Tell her she’s your KittyCAT (Wedding Crashers). And sing, “Oh, Miss Kitty, it’s YOU!” (Muppets, in your best Kermit the Frog voice).
Most of all names, call her Pretty Kitty. Tell her she will always be your pretty kitty. Tell her that the nineteen and a half years you had together were wonderful but still feel way too short. Tell her that you love her. Tell her you want her to stay longer but understand it’s time for her to go. Thank her for making you laugh and making you smile. And tell her you’ll miss her every day. Tell her that she and Bailey will be together again.
That’s the key to a good kitty life. We love you and will miss you, Pretty Kitty.