Monday, January 6, 2014


My little Lisa monster passed away last night.

My Lisa kitty and her litter mate, Bart, came to live with The Captain and me when they were but twelve weeks old, just one month after our wedding, fifteen years ago. Lisa was always tiny compared to her male sibling; for a long time, only half his weight: her 9 lbs to his 17 lbs. She may have been small, but she was mighty.

Lisa was a hunter. In our first home, a 1942 bungalow in downtown Napa, she was forever bringing mice and birds to the back door. Before we tore down the shed-of-horrors in that backyard, Lisa caught the resident rat. We knew it was there, could hear it scurrying around, and occasionally got a glimpse of its beady eyes in the rafters, but we never saw it... until one day The Captain and I arrived home from a trip to the garden center. There on the back lawn were Lisa and Bart, who, like his male lion counterparts, took credit for the kill but we knew who was really responsible. After all, Bart had never brought us anything before and The Captain lived in Kenya too long not to figure that one out immediately. The cats were taking turns tossing the nearly-long-as-Lisa, now-dead rat up in the air, only to watch it spin and fall on the green grass so they could pounce on it yet again. 

When she was a young cat, along with dead creatures, Lisa brought me camellias from our garden. As the big blossoms fell from the bushes, she'd pick them up in her bitty little mouth and drop them at the sliding door. It happened too often to be a fluke. 

Lisa always slept with The Boy. Every night when she could see it was time for him to go to bed, she'd insist on going outside (LET-MEOW-T!), presumably to use the litter box, grab a last nibble of kibble, and drink of water. Soon enough she'd be howling to be let back in. However, if the The Captain opened the door, she'd take off, as if he was chasing her. So Mama had to let her back in, follow her down the hall, and open The Boy's door. Then, like clockwork, Lisa would jump up on the bed, curl up next his pillow, and sleep all night. This nightly ritual went on for many years, even when The Boy was away at camp or staying all night with a friend's.

All cats have rough tongues, like 100 grit sand paper. Lisa's was more like 40 grit. OUCH! ...and she couldn't control her licker. If you set still long enough, she'd groom you: hands, arms, cheeks, jeans, mouth, if you let her (ew!!), and nose. The Captain used to say Lisa wanted to make-out with me, laying on my chest and alternately licking and biting my nose, until it was too sore to take any more abuse.

Unlike her brother Bart, Lisa was not a people-person (so to speak). She liked her own people, The Boy and me (mostly me), on her own terms, as cats do. She only tolerated everyone else, namely The Captain and my dad, and allowed them to pet her when it suited. When we had parties, she'd disappear until the last guest drove away. In June, 2012 we went to Disney World for two weeks, leaving the cats to their own devices, with our friends and neighbors looking after them. Bart remained at his other family (whoever they are) for a couple more weeks after we got home, but not Lisa. She followed me around like a dog for months, terrified I'd abandon her again. Eventually, her short-term memory kicked in and I was allowed to be more than five feet from Her Royal Highness.

I wish I knew what happened to her, what her final coherent moments were like. Was she scared? Hurt? In shock? Did she eat something she shouldn't have? Was someone abusing her? We think she may have been hit by a car. She just came home, went to sleep, cried out periodically, and went to kitty heaven on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 11: 36 PM with her Mama at her side.

I'll miss Lisa's bunny-soft fur and demanding personality, her companionship and sometimes fickle loyalty. But mostly I'll miss how fiercely she loved us.