A few days ago, Mom related to me something she witnessed while I was at work last week. Millie, my "geriatric" fifteen-year-old cat, had been sitting in the dining room window, when suddenly she shot up and proceeded to do a series of bounding leaps from the window to the table to the back of the couch to the coffee table. "She didn't even touch the ground!" Mom marveled.
Now it's Tuesday morning, and I'm sitting here contentedly drinking my first cup of tea of the day and pondering how nice it is to be in a post-half rest week. A few minutes ago, the feline in question bounded into the room and came to a stop near my feet, meowing with high demand. I absent-mindedly reached down to scratch and ear before she leapt up onto my piano to bury herself behind the music stand and start making digging motions with her front legs. "Millie," I snapped. "Knock it off." She didn't, so I sighed and got up to remove her from the piano. Once on the floor, she started a small series of leaps and twitches, before taking off at high speed into the hallway. I don't know where she is now, but I don't hear the bell on her collar jingling, so I'm pretty sure this morning's "toot" has ebbed for now.
I can't complain. When my parents surprised me with a tiny torbie in December 1999, my very first wish was that she would have a long life. She has, though not without her health scares. A vicious bout of pancreatitis in 2009 had me terrified, but she bounced back from that. Here she is now, 15 and running in circles around Bella and Duchess, who are also both considered geriatric at age 9.
Mom's cat Maggie lived to be an impressive 18, and I've heard of cats living to 20 and 21. I have no idea what is in store for Millie, but I cherish every day I get with her--even when she marches into my room at 5:30, demanding I rise and serve her "cookies" and "Tuna Time" in short order. After 15 years, I've grown accustomed to her quirks, and she to mine. I can scoop her into my arms any time and she will rumble happily while I whisper nonsense to her. I croon "Who's my girl? You's my girl!" to her while she slumps in my arms with her eyes at half-mast, purring blissfully. She follows me around the house and gets bent out of shape if I close the bathroom door on her.
Cats, as they age, are "supposed" to gain a little weight and spend their days napping in sun spots. Millie certainly naps a lot, but she is still as slender and muscular as a much-younger cat, full of that quirky kittenish energy and charm. She is unafraid of guests, desperate to explore the backyard, and while she maintains her position as Queen Cat in the house, she's never been anything but affectionate to and tolerant of Bella and Duchess. (Harley was another story--he was a total twerp to her sometimes, and she rightly put him in his place. But she was affectionate with him, too, when he wasn't being naughty.)
I don't know if I'll get five more years or one more year with her, but I do know that I'll never have another cat quite like this one. Every cat is special, and comes with its own unique personality. But Millie has been a rare kind of cat, and I adore her. As I finish this off, she's just curled up on my unmade bed--never too far from her mama.