The Boss Lady

ariel Every once in a while, I write one of “those” posts when a beloved pet passes on. It’s inevitable. Life expectancy for a dog or a cat, or any other animal, is typically much shorter than it is for humans. And, on a farm, where the population of animals is generally much greater than the average household, “those” sort of posts are to be expected a little more often. But, no, this isn’t one of “those” posts; I’m celebrating the life of my beloved feline, Ariel, while she is still kicking and breathing.

Mom calls her “The Boss Lady” as every other cat and dog in the house stands at attention when she speaks…and speak she does. I used to refer to her as my Welcoming Kitty (rather than Welcoming Committee) as she would come running over to the door, meow, meow, meowing at whoever entered. It didn’t matter who; all were welcome. Age is slowing her down a wee bit; she’d rather meow from the comfort of the rocking chair than run to the door now but the meow is still full of enthusiasm for your arrival. She’s also been known as the Parrot Lady as, in her youth, she would gladly ride around on your shoulder purring and chirping at you for hours.

Ariel, along with her litter mates, Woody and Paz, were found over 16 years ago under a log behind the property I was living at with my then-husband, Dan. My dog, Tessa, found them. Unfortunately, Tessa dove under the log and pulled a 4th litter mate out. She didn’t eat it but, well, we won’t go there. It was sad and heartbreaking, and the oxymoron of it is that once the other 3 kittens were in the house, they became Tessa’s best friends–especially Paz. The mother cat had once belonged to a tenant that had left her behind; we were never able to catch her and my ex-father-in-law, unfortunately, saw her get hit by a car sometime–and another litter of kittens–later. He gave a home to two of the kittens from that litter; my ex-brother-in-law took the other two. I had a much older cat, Samantha, when Paz, Woody and Ariel moved in. Samantha was 16 and it was the equivalent of putting some little old lady in with a bunch of rambunctious teenagers…except for Ariel. While Samantha would squawk at her at first, the two could usually be found sleeping on the bed together and I swear, Samantha spent the time whispering words of instruction on how best to take care of “Mommy”. You see, then it was Samantha whose days were shortening as a compromised urinary tract started getting the better of her. The bond between Samantha and Ariel lasted almost a year; Samantha succumbed to renal failure in May of 2001, just months before Dan and I purchased our home together.

For friends and family members who knew Samantha, she was quite the cantankerous kitty. She had a select few whom she would allow the privilege of petting her…and even we lost a few pints of blood from time to time. She was all attitude. And while Ariel has never been quite as aggressive, she knows how to hold her own…even now as we move into the winter of her life.

Ariel has a tumor. It is just under her right front armpit. A couple of “fatty” tumors also grace the side of her face but they are benign. I’m not sure about the one under her armpit as it seems to be growing, slowly, but growing nonetheless. I have not had it biopsied. She is too old for any surgery and I wouldn’t put her through such an invasive surgery anyway; I’ve been there before with other felines. Never has their life been preserved by it but the quality of life has been further compromised. And, with a biopsy, there is always the risk that it will spread the cancer if, indeed, cancer exists. I discovered the tumor in January, called the vet immediately, and, thankfully, he is respecting my decision with this. Now, before all the fanatics go into hysterics, Ariel is under veterinary supervision. She is eating, drinking, evacuating her waste okay; her breathing is normal. It doesn’t seem to be affecting her at all other than a slight limp these last few months as the growth has started interfering with her gait somewhat. However, she can still jump onto the bed, the easy chair, climb stairs and, generally, continue to live the life she’s always lived. But that doesn’t stop each moment from being even more precious than it was before this growth developed. And I swear, she is starting to turn the mantle over to the next “Boss Lady”. Or maybe, “Boss Gentleman”…

Alice (named for rocker Alice Cooper) is a gorgeous flame-point with vivid blue eyes (he should’ve been called Sinatra for his ‘ol blue eyes) and the most loving temperament one can imagine on a feline. At times, I swear he is Woody incarnate–a veritable cuddle bug. He has been enamored with Ariel since he first crawled out of the nest–much to Ariel’s initial chagrin. Alice is one of the kittens kept from last summer when his mother, Priscilla, was left on my doorstep. I heard the footfalls running away from the house the evening before, as whoever her previous owner was, dropped her under the window of the rabbit room and got all of the buns to thumping those back legs in alarm. Alice just adores Ariel…until she starts growling and hissing at him. Then he runs away all bewildered as to why his attentions have been so violently rebuffed. Until lately. Now he’s standing his ground a little bit, aware that Ariel, unlike Samantha, is all bark and no bite. However, I’m not sure he has the temperament to be a “boss” here; we have some pretty dynamic personalities and I’m thinking, though he’s managing to finally charm “The Boss Lady”, it may be one of his litter mates who gets the title passed to them. We shall see…but I hope that won’t be for a very long time. “Mommy’s” not sure she’s ready to see that mantle passed.

May God bless you & keep you!

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