My mother gave me a kitten. Some might think that this is the most unthoughtful gift you can give a loved one, but I hadn’t thought this until my boyfriend told me that we couldn’t keep it. Now, as you can see from the photos, this wasn’t any ordinary kitten. It was a marshmallow looking kitten that happened to be a beautiful Ragdoll kitten, a breed I’d always wanted. I immediately went to my mother’s house when she sent me his picture and I was not dissuaded at all when he hissed at me as he sat pristinely on my mother’s pillow, her Yorkie circling him with twirls and air kisses (our Yorkie, Olive, loves cats). No, I was not put off by his immediate dislike of me. I was actually quite smitten.
I gave him a bath (he was flea infested), and after rubbing him dry, taking millions of photos, and asking my mom if she could take care of him if I really couldn’t keep him at my place, I tucked him into a topless shoebox and made my way home.
My home was an in-law studio below my actual in-laws’ house. I had already broken the no-pet rule by taking in a beautiful Russian Blue named Bear (another heartwarming story). My boyfriend and in-laws had given me a hard no on a second pet. The pictures of this blue-eyed kitten did not persuade them. But I thought to myself, who knew? They loved Bear to death, this new little guy would paw at their heart strings and secure his residence as well.
What I didn’t expect was Bear being so jealous. Luckily, Bear is obedient. He stopped mid-paw slap when I told him noooooo! Then he left for a few hours (he was an indoor/outdoor cat). The kitten snuggled himself right into our queen-sized bed unfazed. When Billy, my boyfriend, arrived, he twirled me in the air, thanking me for saying no to a very tempting gift, and promised me that once we had more money, more space, I could have another animal.
My heart stopped.
How could I sneak the kitten out of the room before Billy saw him?
Billy registered my unease immediately. I fell from his arms with a small thud, and Billy found the kitten sleeping on his pillow.
Long story short, the kitten won Billy over. Billy named him Kojiki. We hid him from Billy’s parents for two weeks. Needless to say, Kojiki won over Billy’s parents as well. And Bear, Kojiki won him over the most. Kojiki latched on to Bear as if he were his mother, suckling him and all!
Kojiki was perfectly terrible. He did not listen, refused to use the littler box, peed on my shoes, tore all of my curtains (and window screen). Kojiki had a severe heart murmur. One so audible, none of the vets advised fixing him or attempting surgery. Big balls and all, Kojiki forced us to let him become an indoor/outdoor cat like Bear.
But we feared the worst. Our vet said one day we might find him forever asleep in the grass or not find him at all.
Our fears came true on the first game of the playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the Pelicans. Kojiki did not come home before we left for the game. I reluctantly left, and even today, I wonder if I should’ve waited a little longer.
Kojiki went missing for two weeks. We scoured the neighborhood, posted signs, emailed the neighborhood list, went to all of the shelters. I received calls about sightings. One man said Kojiki came right up to him. We thought someone might’ve accidentally locked him in their garage.
And then Billy’s dad called us as we were on our way to another shelter. A small blonde animal was on the side of the freeway. I remember thinking, if he saw him, why didn’t he grab him? And then I realized what it all meant.
Billy and I pulled over to the emergency lane. I walked up to the mauled body of a cat about the size of Kojiki, only ten months old. I stared at the body for a long time, measuring each detail against what I knew. When I registered the kitty balls, I screamed out tears. Billy came from behind me with a blanket, and we took the body home.
Billy, his dad, and I stared at Kojiki’s body at home. The tail, Billy, said, looked smaller than he remembered. Everything, I thought, was a bit different than I remembered. Was that what death did to you? The face was smashed. Those beautiful blue diamond eyes gone.
We cremated him and when we got his ashes, I expressed my disgust for the box they put Kojiki in. Billy thought this was inconsiderate.
A week later, on my way out of my house, I heard a meow. I thought I was hearing things, I really did. I was planning on getting a tattoo of Kojiki’s name in Kanji on my side. I scratched my ears and kept walking. The meow became a wail, I turned around and there was my cat, my Kojiki. Thin, eyes a bit droopy, working his way to me as fast as he could.
Our family was overjoyed. Bear monitored him, and Kojiki slept on top of Bear’s large stomach all day. He even used the litter box. We kissed the box of the other cremated cat daily, not knowing how to feel.
Two days later, I took Kojiki for a car ride to my mom’s house. Kojiki loved to sit in the back window of my car. I wanted to cheer him up. When we got to my parents’ house, we sat on my old twin bed. Charlie, another one of my mother’s small dogs, came in and barked. Kojiki growled and spasmed as I’d never seen him do before. It was so fast. He had a heart attack right in my arms, and I struggled to give him CPR.
Billy picked us up, and we took Kojiki’s limp body to the nearest pet hospital. They asked if we wanted resuscitation, and I said of course thinking defibrillators might make a second miracle happen. They did not use defibrillators. They did CPR and attempted to charge us $450 for resuscitation. We did not pay. They did not do anything but make a horrible moment more horrible.
In the end, we knew Kojiki was going to die from heart failure someday. We knew animals sometimes leave their families to die alone. We didn’t know that it would be so soon, that his heart was that weak. He was such an energetic cat that really showed us what it meant to take advantage of each moment. To not waste time.
We had Kojiki cremated, and they gave us an imprint of his paw. The box they placed his ashes in was shinier than the one the other cat was given. The name plate an actual plate unlike the stickered name on the first one. Both Kojikis sit next to each other on my dresser.
So how I grieved for my twice-dead cat is this: I appreciated the time Kojiki spent with us, the love he showed us, the laughs he gave us, and I took solace in the fact that he came back (from a trip to die alone or from a garage he’d gotten stuck in) to say a real farewell.
Kojiki as a baby
Kojiki killing our toilet paper
Kojiki holding Bear inside a basket
Kojiki crushing my head to hold Bear to sleep
Baby Kojiki nuzzling Bear
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