1. Due to her origins as a rescued, injured, shelter kitty, we never knew what Petra’s breed was. It’s possible she was a ragamuffin or a British shorthair – she had a round, pumpkin-faced look, and the softest, thickest fur I ever felt on a cat. She was black and white, but not like most black and white cats. When you saw her fur in the sun, you saw how true black and true white she was – no hidden stripes underneath. She felt like a rabbit when you petted her, and was incredibly docile – she let us hold her like a baby, hold her upside down, and she enjoyed being petted backwards. Petra had perfect kitty eyeliner, a black nose with a tiny pink spot, and black freckles on her white front legs.
2. Petra was a fighter. Despite all odds, at around 8 weeks of age she managed to survive either an attack by an animal or a run-in with a car long enough for someone to find her and rescue her, and for the shelter to remove her leg. The vet who cared for her liked her so much she fostered Petra herself until she was well enough to be adopted out. Then, when she swallowed the needle, the only indication we had that anything was wrong was a couple of days of coughing like she had a hairball and a recurring respiratory infection. As soon as the needle was out, she was back to her normal self again. In this final illness, she lived longer than either of us expected, and even rallied a couple of times toward the end before her final decline.
3. Petra loved to sit in the sun and watch the birds and squirrels outside – we called it the kitty show. She made little “excited, want to hunt” meeshing noises whenever she saw something really interesting, whether it was something on the Kitty Show or a moth or other bug inside or a reflection of light on the wall. Seeing Petra get excited about something was one of my favorite things, ever.
4. From the very first time we met her, it was obvious that Petra loved Dan the most. When she was a kitten, she had a habit of sitting on Dan’s chest at 4 AM, purring and making biscuits, and giving him head butts. Dan called it “morning lovey time.” The first time we left her for a few days, when we came back, the first night she woke him up with lovey time about 6 times. Her habits revolved around getting Dan to pay attention to her, and he was the one who could calm her down best when she had scary phantom-limb pain episodes.
5. Petra was very particular about things she liked and things she didn’t like. Sitting on laps: bad. Throw rugs on the floor: good. She was never much of a talker or vocalizer but there were a few things she said that were unlike the way any other cat said them (brrt moo brrt, for example). The last six months or so, most of what she said was moo. The loudest we ever heard her vocalize was on car trips to and from Dan’s parents’ house – man, did she ever hate that, and she let us know about it.
6. Our kitty had a great talent for fitting herself into unusual places, whether that be sitting on spiky box lids or finding hiding places where nobody would think to look. Last Christmas we stayed up at Dan’s parents’ house for several days, so of course we brought the cats with us. When it was time for us to leave, we managed to corral Loki into his carrier pretty quickly, but we couldn’t find Petra. We looked in all her usual hiding spots and everywhere else we could possibly think of, multiple times. We knew she couldn’t have gotten outside, so we were pretty much at a loss. Finally, I found her hiding up inside an old desk; she had squeezed through a little hole and crawled up behind one of the desk drawers. I don’t know how she managed it, but her hour+ of run-around was that much longer that she didn’t have to be in the cat carrier.
7. One of the most important things to Petra was cleanliness. She insisted on bathing herself multiple times a day – up to 10 times, maybe, on some days. She also bathed Loki quite frequently; I think part of the reason why he is so soft is because she gave him baths. Bathing was like a meditation for her and sometimes she’d fall asleep right in the middle of one.
8. Along with the cleanliness issue came a distaste for just about anything that she thought smelled bad. If Petra smelled so much as a molecule of poop or old food or something else she deemed offensive, she’d cover it up with the nearest throw rug or piece of paper. We often came out in the morning to find one of the living room throw-rugs folded over because something on it didn’t smell right to her.
9. Because she didn’t have her left back leg, Petra would often sit with a glazed look on her face, stump twitching, when her left ear itched. Every time we noticed it we told her that she didn’t have that leg, and we’d give her an ear skritching.
10. Petra was all about making good trades. She gave us a trick and we gave her treats. We gave her pets and she gave us purrs; it was the best trade we could imagine and we always felt we were getting the better end of the deal. The last few weeks while she’d been so sick, Petra never purred, even when we were petting her, so we knew she didn’t feel well. This morning, after we’d made the appointment to bring her in, both of us sat next to her, petting her in all the best places. After a few minutes, she started to purr. It was the best thing she could have given us.
Read more about Petra here.