So I'll start with pictures. Remember, Cerridwen was named after the Welsh Goddess of the Cauldron, Cerridwen, because she was black. Completely, utterly, black. Even to the tip of her little kitty nose. And it can be difficult to take pictures of a black cat because, well, they're black. Here are some pictures of her in her earlier, healthier days.
Cerridwen, seemingly disinterested
Fierce Kitty. Truly. Fierce.
And if you look very, very closely, you can see her little, tiny, black kitty nose. I don't know what she was defending us from (or if she was just choosing to look a little bored with it all), but there must have been shmoos around. Somewhere. Or maybe the humans would bring out one of her favorite games, Feather.
And she loved to chase after bits of light. Seriously. When we opened the door in the morning to go to work, she would inevitably be in one chair, and the light would reflect from the panes of glass in the side door and go moving around the room as quickly as we moved the door. She looooved this game. She could never quite bite Light like she could Feather, but she was fascinated by how light moved. I've never seen another cat who had this fascination. We also hung one of those crystals in another room, to catch the wintertime sun, because it would rotate around and put colorful light bits in the living room. And Cerridwen would run after these bits of light and was fascinated when they simply disappeared behind a couch or under a chair, only to emerge in another place soon.
She was a rescue. Really, truly a rescue. A construction boss-man brought a cardboard box full of 4 week (or so) old kittens and declared "Ah'm tahred of these heah kittens runnin' around under mah house. If'n one of y'all don't take them home I'm a-dumpin' them in the river." In the middle of a hot Georgia summer. Fortunately, there was a kind-hearted worker who took the box and moved it around the site to the nearest patch of shade till the day's work was ended.
He took the box home to his girlfriend, they nursed the kittens for a week or so, and then I don't remember if we read about it in a weekly local newspaper or if some friends told us about it (I think it was the former), but we called them the week after another cat of ours had died (busy street) and we brought home Cerridwen and her "sister" Boudicca that same day. Boudicca was several months old by this time, but Cerridwen was just a teeny tiny kitten who loved the kitten formula she had been fed on for a week. Loved, loved, loved it. She eventually weaned off of formula and then loved kitty kibbles. Not canned food, not tuna fish, but boring old dry kitty kibbles.
And she loved to sing. She didn't meow, she sang. Up and down the hallway in the evenings, she would walk and sing. I sometimes wondered if she was afraid, or missed her kitty mother, or just loved to sing.
And she was an amazing cat. She had a lung problem at about the age of two, but I refused to put a cat on Prednizone for the rest of her life, and the problem pretty much cleared up on its own. There were a few years when times were tight and she didn't have her physical checkup, but she was fine. In fact, she was so fine that the vet, at about the time these pictures were taken, suggested that maybe I should limit her food intake. Like, she (the vet) was worried about kitty diabetes. Having a couple of older animals by this point who needed daily meds, I took the vet's advice seriously.
She became the cat who slept at our feet every night, who stuck her head in my mouth when I yawned, who always loved to bat at the plastic container that held her food every morning. She'd jump up onto her stool that led to the kitty feeding stand and politely wait for me to get my cup of coffee before I fed her and other cats in the morning. Boudicca really never got along with her, but she loved Grendel and would play on the cat stand with him in the evenings: Grendel on the bottom, Cerridwen perched on the top (where all the catnip was) and they would just bat at each other through the openings. And she loved Dave the Dog and would lick his ears and rub under his belly. He never quite knew what to do about it.
Dave had his very own bed right next to ours, and there were evenings when she would be lying there (and invisible to low light) and Dave would look at us to say "There's a cat on my bed!" She just blinked and said, "So?"
When time came for me to take pictures on the floor of the living room (where the light is best) for Ravelry postings or for merchandise for my website, she joined right in. Here are those pictures:
These are some hand-painted wooden needle holders
that she found rolled along the wooden floor and
made a nice noise while doing so.
These are yarns and a partially-completed panel of an
Orenburg (Russian) lace shawl that I am working on.
Perilous is the only word I can think of to accurately
describe my feelings when I took these pictures.
Perilous and comical.
As I said, taking pictures of black cats is not the easiest thing in the world. And really, it is hard to see a kitty face until one is up close and personal.
So time progressed, Grendel died, Dave died, Boudicca died, and suddenly Cerridwen was all alone in the house. She was the only animal for two humans, and the night that Boudicca died she sang a lament in the hallway for several minutes. She couldn't understand why her "sister" was not hopping up to the pillow on my head as was her wont. Cerridwen didn't seem to be lonely. She didn't mope, she gave equal affection to Webmaster Bill and to me, and her eating habits didn't change. We brought home our newest addition, Penelope Lane, in late January, thinking that some company would be good for her. And that we should have another cat in the house to take some of the "only cat" burden off of Cerridwen. She was only 10 pounds, after all.
Cerridwen was beginning to make the transition to having another cat in the house, was learning that humans were there in case there was stalking, that laps were still there, that there were now 2 litterboxes in the house, and then I think everything changed. I think, I really think, that she missed her pack. We found some health complications in mid-March thanks to an ultrasound, so I kept a close eye on her. Fortunately for her situation, I have not really been working outside of the house since mid-April, so I've been able to keep an eye on her.
She turned 16 at the end of May, and I think that her longing for her pack of animals coincided with her body aging. And she became very skinny very quickly, she began throwing up food and liquid, and finally she became so dehydrated that a blood sample was barely possible. Her options became hospitalization, serious meds, or letting her go. And she was so listless (and so lonely), that taking her to the vet's for that one final visit seemed like the most humane thing to do. So we did. And I had a good cry the next morning when her stool for her feeding stand was empty and there was no kitty to bat at her plastic food holder.
Grief is a healing process, and a long process, and not an easy process. Sometimes I see her playing with her friends on the mythical "Rainbow Bridge" and I am overjoyed that she is so happy. Sometimes I wonder if I had had a job whether we could have afforded hospital care and she'd still be happy and strong. And sometimes I'm just glad that I knew such a sweet, funny, playful, intuitive cat, and I am grateful that we rescued her 16 summers ago and she had a good, long, fun life that, for us humans, ends all too soon.
Rest well and play with your friends, sweet cat. I hope to see you again someday.