Walking into the Humane Society in June of 1996, I wasn’t sure if I was going to find the cat I wanted. To be honest, I really wanted a dog, but I didn’t have a yard. Or even a semi-permanent residence. So the dog would have to wait.

Immediately after entering the cat area, I saw a little calico kitten. That was the cat. That was the critter I was going to be taking home with me.

But some damn kids were holding it.

I waited, patiently, for them to find a new kitten with which to distract themselves. While I waited, I picked up a little black and white ball of fur that was sitting next to me. The two of us sat there–her purring, me watching the greedy little curtain-climbers love on the calico kitten–for what seemed like forever. I remember wondering how such a powerful purr could come from something so small. Finally, they set the calico down and walked away. Now was my chance.

I looked at the cat I was holding and was suddenly struck with guilt. Why wasn’t this kitten good enough? What was better about the calico kitten? I couldn’t look at that fuzzy little black and white face and reject it.

That’s how I ended up with Q, the black and white kitten. I never regretted the choice.

This morning, almost exactly 18 years after taking her home from the Humane Society, I had Q put to sleep.

She had been dealing with cancer for the past year, marked with scabby masses all over her skin that caused her to itch feverishly. According to her cardiologist–yes, the cat had her own cardiologist–she was showing the beginnings of heart disease, as well. Vets had removed a tumor from her left front paw when the cancer was first discovered, and it never fully healed. From foot baths to ointment to a barrage of antibiotic injections, nothing we tried would help that paw heal.

I’ve never been a cat person. I’m not a huge fan of other peoples’ cats. Most of them are skittish, elusive, and unfriendly. Q was the opposite. She gravitated towards people. She never hid when guests stopped by the house. And if she bit someone, it was usually just a gentle nip. If you sat down at my house, she would know, and less than thirty seconds later she’d be on your lap.

Purring. She was always purring.

Even as the vet pressed down the plunger in the syringe full of whatever, Q purred. She left my life the same way she entered it.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Even if you feel like shit, keep purring. Someone will notice. Someone will remember. 

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