Bella was adopted by me [Claire] from a local rescue group in Union County, NJ in the late spring of 2003. I had just moved into my very first apartment and knew I wanted to get a pet eventually. Cats technically weren’t allowed in the complex, but since I had neighbors who walked their cats in full view of everyone, I figured I’d be fine with a house cat. Friends of mine told me about a cat up for adoption at a local Petsmart, they thought I’d love her. They were right – it was love at first sight. Even though my apartment wasn’t cat ready at all, I started the adoption process right away; there was no way I could bear to leave her in a cage a second longer than necessary. The rescue group told me she had already been there for six months at least – no one wants to adopt an adult cat. The friends who had told me about her offered to let her stay at their place until I could get my place cat-safe and friendly. Talk about motivation for unpacking 🙂
Naming her Bella was a combination of a slight joke and my singing in Italian. “Bella” is the Italian word for beautiful or beautiful woman, and to me, she was beautiful. However, when she sat down in what I consider a typical cat pose, she rather resembled a bell in shape.
Bella was the sweetest cat and the best roommate I could ever ask for. She loved to sit in my lap, sleep next to me at night (often under the covers), have her tummy rubbed, and shared my love for turkey, cream of chicken soup, blueberry muffins, and strawberry ice cream. She had a loud, expressive voice (a little too loud at 6am..) and an equally expressive purr. She was my companion through some of the lonliest times in my life and never judged me. Her main complaints were when her food bowl got a bit too empty (as in, she could see the bottom) and when I tried to clip her claws.
Not too long after I adopted her, the vets told me that she had hyperthyroidism, a condition not uncommon in older cats. She was only supposed to be about 5 years old when I adopted her, and the youngest cats tend to be afflicted by hyperthyroidism is 8 or 9 years old. I tried all the medications recommended by the vets to treat it and nothing seemed to have the overall desired effect. Finally, after her levels of the T4 hormone were through the roof even with medication, the vet out here mentioned the idea of radio-iodine treatment to me. It’s an interesting procedure and worth every penny. The procedure was done in December of 2005 and I’m convinced it gave her a couple of extra years. She was able to be (relatively) at peace in her old age, sunning herself and enjoying hours-long cuddles from us. However, in July of this year (2008), old age caught up to her in the form of a blood clot at the base of her spine. The vet told me there were options – very expensive, time consuming options, stressful on both Bella and us. I could see it in Bella’s eyes that she’d had enough of vet’s offices, blood tests, being poked and prodded, and generally irritated. I didn’t want to put her to sleep, but I also didn’t want her to continue being in pain. It was the latter that won out (with a touch of common sense). I was able to spend a last few hours with her at home; even with a strong pain killer from the vet, she was clearly in pain, and when she didn’t want to be in my lap or be petted, I knew I had made the right decision, even though it was a painful one to make.
I miss her most at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. I became accustomed to falling asleep rubbing her tummy and listening to her purr, or if I woke up in the middle of the night, being able to pet her until I fell asleep again.
The pictures in the album above are only a few of the many, many pictures I took of her. The ones toward the end are from her last day. In time, when it gets a bit easier to look at the pictures, I’ll post more.
Rest in peace, dear sweet kitty.