Yesterday, we lost our precious Maggie, two days after her nineteenth birthday.
Maggie joined our family the week before Independence Day in 1994. She was a little black ball of relentless furry energy, only seven weeks old. Her mother was a calico, and her (unknown) father must have had some Siamese ancestry, judging from her very Siamese-sounding meows. She definitely inherited the most high-maintenance qualities of both breeds, but they gave her a lot of personality.
Maggie loved climbing up pants legs to sit on our shoulders and did this frequently, though mercifully she grew tired of it before she became heavy enough to inflict real pain. We still remember how she would skitter across the floor in a kind of spider dance, chasing after her toys, and tottering along on her hind legs as she prepared to tackle her big sister, Grendel, something that happened far too often.
She always wanted to do everything Grendel did. Outside, they were our Black Cat Patrol, Grendel taking point and Maggie cautiously bringing up the rear, as they checked out our yard and the neighbors’ for possible intruders, potential tummy-rubbers, and hapless prey.
Maggie also learned from Gren how to make the circuit around our house. She would go out the front door, circle around the side, then jump up on the wooden fence and, from there, catapult herself onto our balcony and loudly demand to be let in. Sometimes she’d also do this in reverse, just to keep us guessing. This was one of her signature skills, and she was able to keep it up until just a year or so ago.
In the mornings, she had a well-established routine. She’d lead the feline charge into the bedroom when the door was opened and go straight to the sliding glass door for a deep breath of fresh air. Then she’d make a beeline for the bathtub for her ritual morning drink of water before heading for her bowl of dry food, where she’d crunch happily away, purring loudly at the simple joys that she loved so much.
Maggie missed Grendel terribly when Grennie died in 2001 and went into a deep funk, not eating and staying in dark rooms, until we brought Miranda home later that year. Maggie was so irritated at a new kitten in the house that she forgot to be depressed. Mission accomplished.
Over the years, Maggie developed new skills. She learned to manipulate us into doling out the kitty treats that she adored as frequently as possible. One of her favorite routines for doing this was “Kitten in the Dark” (sometimes also known as “Sad Cat”). In the evenings (and this always happened in the evenings), she’d go upstairs, sit in our dark bedroom, and mournfully yowl with an increasingly loud decibel level until Ed would get up, go to the stairs, and call her. Then she’d come to the head of the stairs, look at him coquettishly before slinking down the stairs to stand next to the spot where the kitty treats were kept, as if to say, “I was very sad, sitting in the dark, but you can make me happy with some treats!” And he always did.
One of our favorite memories is of the Christmas Bird. One cold Christmas, the Black Cat Patrol went out briefly. When they rushed back in, we didn’t notice that Grendel had a little sparrow in her mouth. She dropped the bird on the living room floor and started swatting it around, like a little stuffed toy. Thump, thump, thump. Only the bird took offense at being swatted and started flying around the living room. The cats went bonkers, leaping around to try to catch it again. Ed opened the sliding glass door while I steered the bird out. Just as it was about to fly off the edge of the balcony, Grendel leaped up and caught it again. She brought it back inside and gently deposited it at the foot of the Christmas tree, where she and Maggie sat, gazing adoringly at their Christmas bird. They were stunned when we resumed our rescue mission and got it safely outside, giving us withering looks to convey their incredulity at our obvious incompetence in letting their bird escape.
We had known since January that her time was limited, and those four months went by all too fast. We like to think of Maggie now in catnip paradise where Grendel has met her at the gate, a familiar face to show her around, introduce her to friends, and let her know that everything’s all right. The Black Cat Patrol together again, at last.
We miss you both, sweet girls.