Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gorgeous!

   We can't know for sure what day she was born since she was a stray kitty, but my vet made his best guess, and April 1st is the birthday I chose for her 15 years ago.
   Gypsy was 6-8 months old when I snatched her up from the freezing rain on an early, cold October morning. I had been watching her all summer, as she and a dozen other strays collected outside my first apartment, taking advantage of all the paper plates full of food that my downstairs neighbor left out for them. Despite being scrawny, dirty, and completely feral, she was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen. And somehow, from the first time I laid eyes on her, I knew she belonged with me. I had never taken in a wild cat, but I never had an ounce of doubt that I could tame her. Today it hardly seems possible that she came from such a tough start.
   I ignored her at first as she darted around my apartment, and sat on the floor to watch TV and eat my dinner. If I stood, she fled and hid. I had to move slowly, being completely silent so I wouldn't startle her. In those first couple of weeks I scarcely saw her, as she cowered in the corner under my bed, or opened the kitchen cabinet and hid behind the dishwasher. But the bowl of food was emptied every night, and the litter box was used, so I knew she was adapting.
   She used to hide at the food of my bed, under the covers, every day while I was at work. She wouldn't venture out until I came home. Slowly she began to trust me, and would slink around the perimeter of the apartment as I sat on the floor to eat, sniffing the air and becoming interested. I'll never forget the night that I had made stir fry, with steak, chicken, shrimp, and tons of fresh veggies. She quietly approached and sat next to me. She meowed. I gently placed a small piece of steak on the carpet. She sniffed it, looked at me, and meowed again. I tried again with the shrimp, then the chicken. She acted interested, but didn't eat. Then she put her front paws on my leg and stood up to reach my plate. It wasn't meat she wanted—it was the asparagus! I gave her a whole spear and she LOVED it. Wouldn't have guessed that... but Gypsy has always been full of surprises.
   From that moment on she began to get more confident. I started seeing her more. As long as I didn't force the relationship, it began to blossom. When my Mom came to visit, Gypsy warmed up to her, and literally from that day on she has been the life of the party. I think her transformation has been just incredible!
   You're not supposed to pick favorites, but I think it's pretty obvious that she's the most special to me. It's hard to explain why, but she and I have always had a very special connection, unlike any animal I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Part of the bond was forged through the work I put into taming her, and she has repaid me with affection every day of her life. She makes me smile, has made me laugh a million times.
   Today she's making me cry a whole lot because I can't even fathom what life will be like without her. She has taught me a lot. The lesson I appreciate most is that sometimes there is something you just know, even if it can't be explained. And you have to hold fast to it, and nurture it. And if you continue to believe, it can turn into something more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

   I'm getting ready to take her back to the vet for more fluids. I'm hoping I can keep her happy and comfortable for as long as possible, and I will let her go when the time is right. A piece of me will be going with her. Happy birthday, Love.