Ode to Ophélie

We have had two cats for so long it has become part of our identity. Photographers, librarians, havers of cats. AG adopted them from a roommate over a decade ago and when we began our relationship, he made it quite clear that where he goes, cats go. The only time that wasn’t true was the mid-degree summer we spent working in separate cities, when the cats stayed with me. The cats: 1, 2.

In February when we lost Dagobert so suddenly, it became the cat. We struggled with this distinction, referring to Ophélie as “the cats” as recently as yesterday. And yesterday we lost Ophélie as well. The cats: 0.

Two days after Dagobert passed away, we took Ophélie to her previously scheduled vet appointment and learned that she was suffering from kidney failure, the same ailment that had just claimed her “big brother.” We looked at the calendar; Dago had lived almost a year to the day of his own kidney diagnosis, so we believed we had time. We took comfort in her.

Friday morning Ophélie limped. Friday evening she lost control of her back legs. By Sunday the situation was so escalated that she was unable to move an inch the entire day we were shooting a wedding in St. Andrews; we came home hoping that she would still be alive. She was, but covered in her own pee. A miserable existence. After a consultation with the vets yesterday afternoon – where we learned that she was on pace to die naturally within a day – we were able to do her one small mercy.

Ophélie wasn’t a lap-cat. She liked to get her pets at a few specific times a day, and otherwise her independent streak left her napping peacefully on the bed, on the office chair, outside. She loved to lay in the sun, especially outside if she could look at squirrels and pigeons waddling by. Never too bright, she escaped on multiple occasions and would be found sitting confused on the steps, possibly wondering what she was supposed to do next. In younger years she would rocket down the hallways at top speed and launch herself into the air for no apparent reason. She gazed adoringly at any strange man who came into our home. For years she could be relied upon to walk up to us during supper, wait for our attention, and then shriek at the top of her lungs. She hated to be brushed. She gave epic, echoing salutations to the sun at the crack of many dawns. She had cute habits of daintily crossing her front paws, and curling her tail into a question mark. She was 17 years old.

Our cutie pie, sweetie, crankpot, tiger cat, minou, nugget, banshee, diabeetus, fur ball, shrieker, baby girl, princess, bright eyes, drama queen, kitten. She spent 15 years with her brother, and only 2.5 months without him. I believe that she was lost without him, and now they are together again. Now we are two, alone in deafening silence.