My 16-year old kitty crossed over the rainbow bridge early this morning. We’ve known for a while that we would need to make hard decisions soon, so it wasn’t a shock, but that didn’t make it any easier.
She came into my life in my last few months living in New Mexico. A friend had found a mama cat with a litter of kittens who were about 2-days old in March 1998. I was leaving New Mexico to move to Maryland at the end of May, just about the time the kittens would be ready to leave their mama. Artemis was the only girl of the litter, and I claimed her, since I already had a boy cat, and he marked.
In late May, just after my undergraduate graduation, Artemis, Ares, and I drove with my parents back to Minnesota. We spent a couple weeks in Minnesota, getting some of the things I would need to start my graduate student life in Maryland, and then Dad and I drove with the two cats to Maryland.
She, Ares and I all went through many life milestones together. I entered grad school with them, got my master’s degree, quit grad school, went back to grad school and graduated with my PhD with both of them. I met Andrew, dated, moved in with him and his cat, Duncan, and married. I also lost my Dad with both of them in my life. Ares crossed the rainbow bridge a few months after I lost Dad, and I think that was the beginning of the end of Artemis she had known him as long as she had known me, and spent more time with him, since they were always in the in house together. She never quite recovered from losing her friend.
This weekend I told her that if she was ready to stop fighting, I was ready to respect her decision. On Sunday, she stopped showing any interest in food, and lost some control. We knew it was time. Overnight she was in some distress, so we had to let her go. I have to believe that she’s now finding her friend Ares again, sitting in my Dad’s lap, purring and getting pets.
My names for her included: Artemis, Little Miss, Baby Girl, Little Girl
Hiding Artemis: Jocco couldn’t find Artemis when he was pet-sitting for me once when we were in grad school. He ended up calling my friend Stef (who was also going to help out with the pet-sitting) for help. She asked him a bunch of questions, like, is food disappearing? have there been poops in the litter box? Since he wasn’t himself a cat-owner, I’m sure these questions seemed odd. I don’t remember if he found her, or if Stef finally had to come over, but in the end, Artemis had been hiding under the ottoman of my comfy chair. Silly, clever girl.
Alpha Artemis: Artemis had always been shy around humans, so we kind of assumed that she was a submissive kitty. In my apartment, it was just her and Ares, and I never really saw them squabble, so I had no evidence to the contrary. However, Andrew brought a new cat into the mix when he and I moved in together – his cat Duncan. It took some time before we saw them interact much, but I remember one time they both rounded the corner on the landing of our second floor at the same time from different directions. We watched as Duncan started to challenge Artemis, and she put it right in his place. There was some growling, and maybe some paw swipes (I can’t remember), but fairly quickly, Duncan submitted (can’t remember if he slunk away or laid down — over time, we saw him do both). I think Andrew and I had different reactions I uttered a “go girl”, encouraging Artemis, but Andrew felt a little bad for his kitty. We were both shocked to learn that she was the alpha in the house.
Snooze-control: When I was still a full-time student, I had a lot of freedom for what time I would get up in the morning, as long as I was to school on time for class. I would set an alarm to make sure I didn’t sleep away the whole morning, but usually would snooze 1-5 times (it was fairly random). Somehow, Artemis would know exactly when I had decided that THIS snooze was the LAST one for the morning. She would choose the moment when I hit the snooze button to jump up on the bed and lay on my chest. Almost every morning. And often, she would get me to snooze once or twice more.
Laptop patrol: Ever since I got my first laptop (and more recently a tablet), Artemis was sure to let me know when I had spent enough time with it sitting in my lap. She would come and sit on the arm of my comfy chair, and head-butt my hand or bat at my fingers – making it clear that SHE should be in my lap, not the stupid computer. Most of the time she was right…and pretty much all of the time in the past few months.