Twelve years ago a sassy little orange cat forced her way into my friend’s apartment and refused to leave. After a brief flirtation with trying to be a cat person, she gave up and I adopted the feline. I named her Ruby (technically Rubia–because she was blonde). I was 23, and living with two roommates. The Red Sox won the World Series that year, and America re-elected George W. Bush (which is pertinent because I stole a bunch of “Bush Country” balloons from the Republican headquarters I had to cover on election night, then blew them up and left them all over the house to freak out my roommate–Ruby promptly popped a bunch and ate one, which she threw up on the way to the vet).
Today, I had to say goodbye.
Ruby was my home girl. She was the smartest, most bad ass cuddle buddy I’ve ever had. She’d just as soon challenge a dog to a fight as climb on your chest and nearly smother you in your sleep. She loved scaling trees, telephone poles, and my mother’s back porch. She liked apple fritters and chicken–preferably stolen. She was allergic to fleas, had gallstones in her bile duct, and once came home with a mystery bite on her tail. Moles in the neighborhood trembled in fear whenever they saw her coming. Over the past few years she was only able to go outside inside a “catio” but still managed to catch a bird inside of it. Somehow, Ruby once managed to open the stove on her own, and attempted to abscond with the meal within. I’m pretty sure she had a rudimentary understanding of alarm clocks, because when she was trying to wake me up in the morning she’d often reach for the alarm clock and tap it.
It’s been a tough week, capped off by an excruciatingly bad 48 hours. Today, as I stood at the reception desk in the vet’s office, someone behind the counter asked me if I was there to pick Ruby up. All I could muster was a teary, croaky, “No.” The woman standing beside me, paying a fortune for her dog’s medicine, turned to me to say how sorry she was for my loss, and tell me she knew how hard it was. I thanked her as well as I could, and then she reminded my how important it was to give another animal a good home. “Someday…” I told her.
I’ve still got a dog and a cat at home–they’re both curled up on the couch with me now, and neither of them wants a new furry friend–but Ruby was the first pet I had as an adult. She was special. My other cat is more like a Labrador than a feline. He humps things, and is happy to let any random person he meets pet him for hours. Ruby was smart, and independent, and prickly, and affectionate, and one tough cookie. We understood each other.
She was a fighter right up until the end, and she will be missed–even by the dog.