Twenty years ago my little family of four became a family of five. One summer afternoon Mom loaded Ian and I into the family’s signature blue and tan “house van” and drove us to the Humane Society. Sufficient time had passed since the family cat “Pip” had passed and we were all feeling the familiar need for four furry feet in the house.
Since it was prime siesta time all the kittens were dozing peacefully. All of them except for one – a wiry and rambunctious gray and white kitten with pink ears, pink pads on her feet and the most adorable pink nose that looked an awful lot like an eraser.
This kitten tore around the metal cage, dove into the stinky litter box and did everything in her power to get our attention. She had chosen us.
I think we held several kittens that afternoon but this little gray and white cat with ears much too big for her head was the one. Papers were signed, a check was written and our newest family member was christened “Izy Magargee,” with one ‘z’ because our family likes three letter cat names.
In the Magargee household all pets are valued members of the family and are treated with love and respect. A holiday never passed where the family cat did not get a tiny stocking filled with fresh toy mice and tasty nibbles. Just like humans get regular checkups at the doctor, so did our pet. Friends always inquire on the family pet because they know they are just that – family.
Izy was a part of our family for 20 years. She was mom’s best little fuzzy friend who was often found dozing in her lap and “assisting” while she worked on crafts and sewing. She was my dad’s back yard adventuring pal who insisted on daily walks in the garden. She was my brother’s “head bonking buddy” who was so intent on being close to him that she would drape herself over the computer monitor while he played War Craft. She loved to stalk and attack my skinny legs sending me bouncing away.
Izy brimmed with personality and light. She had many facial expressions, a vast vocabulary and body language that always conveyed what she wanted. She was feisty and sassy and never one to be ignored. Even in her aged years she would demand attention, play, snacks and snuggles and did not like when these demands were not met swiftly.
Izy loved stinky wet food. She had an affinity for Publix deli meet and once hauled off with a bag of it and gorged. She enjoyed my mom’s peppery tomato sauce and licking the final drops of ice cream from our bowls. She was a messy little eater who required trays and paper towels under her food bowls.
For years Izy’s favorite toys were the plastic rings that came on gallon milk jugs. She adored toy furry mice, which she gnawed on with primal glee leaving behind gross piles of wet mangled mouse for naked feet to find at night.
Izy was always curious, even in her final days. She loved to explore, poke around in bags and sniff new people. Despite her age and arthritis, she would still rocket out of the cat box some days and zoom through the living room with reckless abandon, surprising everyone with her sudden athleticism.
She had a howl that could, and often did, wake the entire house. Later in life her howl changed to an old lady screech that still commanded the same respect and prompt attention. Her purr was warm and rumbling and could easily be started with a simple caress of her cheek.
Last week our family had to say goodbye to sweet Izy Kitty. I am so sad I could not have been there, but am glad that she was with those she loved most – my parents. To the little cat that tortured my legs for years and filled my adolescence with fun and sass: I hope your next life brings endless bags of lunch meat, a plentiful supply of furry mice to gnaw and a garden that is always filled with new adventure. You are greatly missed.
*Photos by my Dad during a summer stroll though the garden in August of this year.