The funny thing is, Padi wasn’t even supposed to be my cat. I guess what they say about kitties finding their true owners can sometimes be true. Not long after I moved to California, my roommates Katie and Chuck thought it would be good to get cat. As it happened, near Katie’s birthday, I saw a posting on a bulletin board at work titled “Cute Calico Cat”. I met with the lady, who told me the kitty was young, very sweet and had already been spayed, but she couldn’t keep her because she already had two and her place of residence had a limit.
I brought her home and gave her to Katie for her birthday. As Katie was learning to scuba dive at the time, she named her Padi. A visit to the vet revealed she was between three and seven years old. She was probably closer to three, but she seemed deceptively older because she had bad teeth, indicating she’d been fending for herself for a while. That should have been an early indicator of the large vet bills she would generate later in life!
Padi was basically an outdoor cat. On several occasions, she had all the cats in the neighborhood over for a 2:00 a.m. songfest, which didn’t make any of us (or the neighbors) very happy. Aside from that though, she was very affectionate and easy to take care of. Eventually, Chuck moved out and Katie didn’t want her when I was moving to my own place, so Padi moved in with me.
My new house quickly became Padi’s. She would go outside occasionally, but loved the comfort of her new home. Work had me traveling a lot during that time, so Padi grew accustomed to being around other people, but she made it obvious she didn’t like me leaving by peeing on my suitcase when I returned. She was never very shy about making her feelings known, and she hated being alone. Sometimes, she would insist that I sit with her while she ate out of her bowl in the kitchen.
The odd thing was she was always deathly afraid of men. There were a handful she liked, like my Dad and one or two others, but for the most part, she would turn and run when they showed up. But then Peter came into our lives and she took to him right away. In fact, Peter and I might not have ended up together had it not been for her. Early in our relationship, we were having a tense discussion about breaking up when she showed up and started scratching in her litter box loudly during one of those “pregnant silences”. We both just broke into laughter.
As we became more serious, Padi claimed him as her dad and wouldn’t let him forget it, demanding food, teaching him to lift his arm in his sleep so she could snuggle into his neck and yelling like mad when he wasn’t paying enough attention to her. When we bought a new house together, she was the first thing we moved, and she slept on his chest almost all night as we all crammed into a narrow futon. Though he doesn’t admit it, he was very attuned to her needs.
I remember this one night. Padi had one of those “radar cone collars” on because she’d been bitten by another cat outside and had stitches on her back. She didn’t have a good time with that at all — walking backwards all the time or simply sitting down and crying because it had caught on something and she thought she was stuck. I woke up to find Peter picking Padi up, taking her to her litter box and staying with her until she was done with her business, then lifting her out of it. When he came back to bed, I asked what was going on. He said she’d come up and woken him, and he noticed “her butt quivering,” so he acted on a hunch. I guess the collar made it difficult for her to get into her box. And he claims he’s not a kitty dad. Ha!
At a ripe old age, we found a growth on her leg that turned out to be cancerous. Her health began to decline over the next several months, and the saddest day of our life together was when she looked at us both and told us it was okay to let her go. She died in Peter’s arms after the vet administered the injection, and we both wept for hours. She had been my companion through so much, and so many years, from my new life and first job out of college, to my first house, through boyfriends good and bad, to finding my husband. Other kitties will find us, but she will always be my special, sweet baby.