She very nearly did not come to be with me, as it happens. Someone else adopted her first, and made the hilarious mistake of introducing her to a pet bird. Louisa mistook this for being an introduction to a snack, and found herself back on her foster mother’s porch, dumped, a few minutes later. And so she came to be with me. She was scrawny and suspicious, with her bum ear and a bad tangle-removing haircut that grew into a fluffy, luxurious calico coat, the vestiges of which will continue to swirl and tumble underneath my furniture for all time, no matter how many times the robot vacuum may pass. She was very good at shedding. She had me wrapped around her littlest claw from the first minute.

Dear Louisa, you had a good eight years with me, didn’t you? You were loved and you knew it. You purred so loud! You ate well, and charmed many more treats out of me than you should have. You slept whenever and wherever you wanted, often somehow taking up an entire queen-sized bed. I didn’t mind sleeping around you. You gave me baths so thorough that if I didn’t distract you, I would end up with abrasions. You loved your catnip toys, and showed no mercy to flying roosters and stuffed tiger tails. Thank you for letting me love you, for snuggling with me when you knew I needed it, for never biting me despite the noxiousness of the medicines I had to give you in the last year.

Thank you for letting me know it was time to let you go, for letting me know you well enough to understand that the course of action necessary to keep you with me for even a little while longer was going to kill your spirit and rob you of your imperious dignity.

You are blissfully kneading on an endless sheepskin rug, napping when you feel like it, curled into a sleepy furry ball in a sunbeam, purring loud enough for me to hear you in my dreams.

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