Today is the first day in fourteen years that life will not be shared with Miss Fancy, the all-white, blue-eyed cat that my wife rescued from an abusive neighbor in the Shenandoah Valley. Yesterday afternoon after a thorough diagnosis of lungs filled with fluid and failing kidneys, she was euthanized.
When we lived on that country road in the Valley, we would see her walking a fence line across the street from the house in which her cruel owner lived. She was hunting for food because the only thing he provided was the chained dog’s food. She was easy to see during our travels on the road because she was pure white. We watched her survive as she produced her first litter, and then years later when my wife found her near our woods suffering from an open tear in her side, she came to live with us. With care and treatment the tear healed, and the abused cat became an indoor one and she never had to eat dog food again. I am not sure how she came to be named Miss Fancy, but I suspect that it was she, in her regal manner that choose it. No matter, she fit in with the other two adopted cats, three hounds, and two of her first litter.
Miss Fancy claimed my wife as her owner. Her indifference to me was not offensive, it was just that she knew the person who had rescued her from a painful life of abuse, constant litters, and danger of injury. Miss Fancy knew of my admiration for her survival skills, but unless she needed her food bowl filled, she had little use for me.
She was a part of our daily life, and she provided us pleasure as we would watch her play with a loose coaster, piece of ribbon, or any object that could be rolled, pushed under a door, or played with in any manner. She was our most kitten-like adult cat. But she expressed no interest in running out an exterior door accidentally left open. It was if she were saying, “I’ve been outside, it’s not as grand as you think.” She enjoyed sleeping on heating vents and warm cable boxes for the televisions. In order to join my wife in watching television, she would stretch out on the sofa behind her head, getting and giving warmth or curl into a white ball on her lap.
Miss Fancy was meticulous in her manner and hygiene. Without a doubt, she was the cleanest cat we had. She kept her white fur spotless as if to contrast more with her Carolina blue eyes. Her love of all types of lettuce and other foods never caused her to grow large and until three days ago she was healthfully present in our lives.
We referred to the cat food bowl in our bedroom as “Miss Fancy’s bowl”. The same for the litter box in the closet. So this morning when I passed the bowl, I instinctively filled it, forgetting for a brief moment that Miss Fancy would not stand next to it and cry at its emptiness. But no matter, we shared years as she gently fussed for more food, and the other four cats must be cared for. Yet that little, blue bowl will always be Miss Fancy’s.