Serephina came to us in the middle of the night on June 1, 2007. I was woken by Brianna’s loud whisper that there was a noise in the living room and she was scared. So, I pulled myself out of bed and went into the dark room to see what was going on. Of course, I heard nothing. I told Brianna that she should go to the bathroom and get back to bed since the sound had stopped. As I leaned against the wall one of our other cats, Lyra, came racing down the hallway from the living room, hissing and growling as she looked for a place to hide. I walked back toward the living room with a bit of trepidation and worry. After all, there was a hole in the screen and maybe something got in. And I was barefooted. And it was dark. So, I told Brianna to stay in the hallway and I began to walk into the room. Then I heard it, too. A soft sound, but unmistakably young. I got to the window and realized that there was something out there on the porch. Then I realized that it was a very young kitten.
After waking Anthony and getting some softened food and clean water, we all sat in Anthony’s room, away from the other cats, with the wee beast. It was obvious that she wouldn’t survive if I put her back outside, but we already had 2 cats and shouldn’t take in another. Finally, I said that I wouldn’t make a decision that night and that she could sleep in Anthony’s room until the next day. She fell asleep in my hands so deeply that I thought she’d died (she wouldn’t be the first cat that did that to me) and I shook her until she moved her head and cracked open one eye. With relief, I tucked her onto Anthony’s bed and we all went back to sleep.
She stayed, of course. We named her Serephina Pekkala Black for the witch in His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series (with a twist to the spelling). She brought a lot of frustration to our lives, like when I had to remove the entire carpet from the living room because she kept peeing on it when she went into heat. Or the time she ended up with septicemia and I was up with her for several nights to make sure she stayed hydrated by using a syringe of water. Or the time I ended up force-feeding her for nearly 2 weeks because she had stopped eating and was jaundiced and terribly lethargic (the vet never did figure that one out).
Mostly, though, she brought joy to our lives. When we were sad, she curled up in our laps and purred until we were done crying. When we were fighting with each other she’d come running into the room and would “yell” at us until we calmed down. She could hear a Dorito bag being opened over loud music and would demand that she had her share (a tiny corner). She knew the difference between the sound of a yogurt container and any other and would wait, impatiently, for me to put the empty cup on the ground so that she could lick the inside, usually ending up with a white ring around her face. She was the first to explore a new place or a new person and the first one to the food bowls. She was the loudest of all the cats we’ve had and made her wishes known most of the time. She spent thousands of hours beside us during movies or book readings or naps or just because.
Over the years, she developed a growth in her abdomen and arthritis in her hips. She also had iris melanosis in one eye and it finally covered the entire iris in her left eye. During the last couple years she could no longer digest anything but a specific brand/flavor of canned food that had been mixed with an equal amount of filtered water (and I tried dozens of brands & flavors). It was hard not letting her have her favorite treats, but even a teaspoon of yogurt or baby food would come right back up within a few minutes. She needed stairs to get up on the bed and up to the windows. She needed a step to reach her favorite places to sleep. Even then, she moved slowly. She lost a lot of weight, even with giving her as much as she could eat. The mass kept growing while her hip bones started showing more and more. I had to remove her pendant because it seemed to weigh heavily on her neck.
Things shifted from the occasional bad moment to a couple bad moments each month then each week then bad moments each day. I decided a couple months ago to give her the best summer I could possibly give to her and would help her cross over in October before the days got chilled and the sun grew scarce; winter has always been hard on her. Instead, the good moments went from a couple each day to a couple each week then fewer and fewer… it was time.
I’m always going to miss her, just as I miss the ones who’ve gone before her. She was the last from the era of when my children were still young enough to live at home. She’s the last of the ones who got us all through the teen years and the leaving home and the growing up and the empty nest. I will always miss this feisty, bossy, and wonderful girl.