Once upon a time there was a small gray striped kitten with random orange patches. She was surrendered to the local Humane Society as a tiny baby and found herself one day in a cage outside a pet store with three of her furry siblings. A little girl with blond hair came along and stuck her fingers into the cage to get the kittens’ attention. The girl turned to her father and begged to be allowed to take a kitten home, and her Daddy said yes. The blond girl chose the striped kitten, who was so small she could fit into the palm of the Daddy’s hand! She rode to her new home in a box perched on the little girl’s lap.
At home, the parents told the little girl that she should give the kitten a name, so she did: Sally Hannah Juliana. The girl liked the way the last two names rhymed, and besides, Juliana was her own middle name. Over the years Sally Hannah grew and grew. She never tired of chasing laser pointers and she had a stuffed mousie that squeaked and she loved to carry the mousie around in her mouth. Sometimes she liked to run outside when the door was opened so she could roll around in the grass. She was always willing to bat around a little ball with a bell inside.
During the day she followed the sun around as it shone through the windows so she could lay in its warmth. At night she would curl up on the bed with one of her people and keep their feet warm as they slept. It wasn’t always the same bed or the same person because she liked to keep things fair.
As Sally Hannah got older she got bigger and bigger. Her people said she weighed twenty pounds! Sally Hannah didn’t know what a pound was but if it was anything like food, she wanted as many as she could get. Sometimes she would lay on her back in the floor with all four paws in the air. For some reason this made her people giggle and take pictures. She didn’t care because it made them happy and it felt good. She also liked to look out the window and watch the birds and squirrels, who seemed to be teasing her. That was okay, though, because she had a comfortable house and nice people who took good care of her.
Then one day Sally Hannah Juliana started feeling sick. Something inside her body didn’t feel right. All she wanted to do was sleep, and it seemed like too much trouble to walk to her food dish to eat, so she didn’t bother. Her people were worried so they took her to a doctor and the doctor put her in the hospital for a couple of nights. Once when she woke up in the hospital she had a tube sticking out of her neck and it felt weird. The people at the hospital kept doing things to her and wouldn’t leave her alone to sleep, which was what she wanted to do. Finally one of her people came to take her home and Sally Hannah was hopeful that maybe everything was going to be okay.
But it wasn’t. She came home with the tube-thing in her neck and it made her drool all the time, which was messy and caused her to lick her lips a lot. She still didn’t want to eat and she wanted to rest but it was hard to find a good position with the tube there. And now instead of doctors it was her people who kept coming in and doing things to her with that uncomfortable tube, and while she loved the people, she wished they would just go away and let her sleep.
Then one morning Sally Hannah’s people came to feed her and they could see that she was feeling worse than ever. They were worried and sad. All of them petted her gently and told her how much they loved her and what a good kitty she was, with tears in their eyes. Even through her pain she could tell they really cared. And then they showed her how much they loved her because they finally, finally, let her go to sleep, which was what she had been wanting all along.
Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our Sally Hannah Juliana. She was a part of our family for nine years and was full of personality. She was never any trouble, unless you count sharpening her claws on the sofa and harking up the occasional hairball. All she desired in life was a full food dish and a soft place to sleep. She was a good kitty right up until the end, even though I know we must have made things more difficult for her by trying so hard to hang on when she was ready to go. RIP, Sally Hannah Juliana. We will miss you.