Other cats have come and gone in my life. When I was first married we rescued a kitten from a local shelter. The formal name we gave him was Alexander, but he was such a small ball of fluff that he was quickly named Puff. Alexander Puff as he became known when he got older. He was what I would describe as a “cat’s cat.” He was a domestic long-hair that had no known origin. He was simply brought to the shelter. When he was five we adopted his brother, a cream colored Persian with copper eyes and enough Siamese in him to keep us awake at night when he decided to howl.
Horatio stole my heart. He died in August, 2008 at the age of 16. We had been through a lot together. He was the one who was constantly by my side; when I watched TV or read and while I studied. He slept on my pillow at night. I attended law school on line and he attended with me. I could tell which professors he liked best because he would start “talking” when he heard their voice. And he stuck by me during my darkest days. He held on until I had finished the July 2008 bar exam. Somehow he knew I would be alright after that.
When Alexander Puff passed away we decided to get another Persian; a Himalayan this time. We adopted a little girl from a local breeder who raises her cats in her home. (They are not caged and as a result are quite social and loving). When we brought her home she seemed tiny next to Horatio. He was not alarmed, though he didn’t quite know what to do with her. They became buddies and were as close as a 12 year old cat can be with a new and energetic kitten to torment him.
It was a while before we decided on a name for her. Actually, it was Glenn who announced one day, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” and the name stuck.
My relationship with Maria is different from other cats. I joke that she likes everyone and everything before me. Of course, that is not entirely true. She misses me when I’m gone according to my husband. I think she loves me because I feed her and when I’m away the routine is different. The truth is that she adores my husband so she likes me because he likes me. It’s not that complicated in a cat’s world. Often the rules of the Animal Kingdom are played out in our home. She’s the alpha cat, but I’m the alpha female.
As aloof as Maria can be, she is beautiful and regal. And Florence Nightingale. About two weeks after I had surgery for breast cancer she unexpectedly climbed into my lap, curled up along my right arm and purred; staying with me for several minutes, as if to say she wanted me to heal.
During chemotherapy I had the habit of sitting up in bed at night, reading for pleasure. Horatio would curl up tight against my hip or thigh. Maria would curl up on my lap. Together, the purrs sent healing love to this deeply wounded woman. There were times that I fell asleep on the living room couch and would wake to find Maria on my torso. She said “I love you and want you to feel better” in the only language she knew.
Maria remains aloof, preferring my husband’s lap. I tease him that the only reason she likes me is because she knows I make him happy so she has to be nice to me. She occasionally lets me pet her, but we don’t want to get carried away. She knows to ask me for food or water if she believes either dish is getting low. Her elegance has earned her the name Beautiful Maria. I also know she loves me in her own way. She is, after all, Beautiful Maria.
After Horatio passed away we adopted Kiwi. But that’s another story.