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Andy Cat

LA Community Cats has been dedicated to my cat Andy who lived with me for 13 years. She forced me to surmount the learning curve on feline needs as we faced the challenges to her health.  Almost three years since Andy’s death, I continue to be inspired by her exceptional spirit.

Nobility Among the Lowly

Alerted by meowing just outside the Korean-American tutoring center, my young tutees and I raced to the parking lot. Inside a trashcan, a mother cat had been laid to rest after being hit by a car. One kitten was born as a result of that impact. I named her Turbo - at least for the first few weeks as she speed-nursed her miniature bottles. By the time she shifted over to solid food, the name Andy found its way to my lips.

Many Lives Before

She was a bold little gal whose spirit had walked this earth before - as a fox, a wolf, a lioness among a few of her incarnations. I often felt that Andy's built-in Elizabethan collar was a holdover from the days when she prospered England during the 16th century-perhaps, another of her previous lives. Her formidable nature as a ruler carried over into her 20th century comeback as a cat, for she could render swift judgment on friends and enemies alike. I knew who was welcome and who should be parked at the door. Though, Andy handled it with great subtlety as she followed the creed: the greatest power is in not having to use it.

Dueled With Her Eyes

On many occasions, Andy stared down my friends while clearly communicating, She's all mine! While Andy loved to be complimented on her lush fur coat, she drew the line at flattery, considering her purpose far too serious. I honored her wishes to steer clear of the girlish and adapted the spelling of her name to end in "y." In perfect tandem with her cut and dried persona, she was a feline of few words. Rarely was she heard meowing. In fact, she opted for squeaking and so she earned the nickname of "Squeaker Mouse."
A very left-brain type, Andy would have made a good mathematician or bank teller, for she kept a tight scorecard on everyone and settled up debits and credits in the moment. Why go to bed owing someone a hiss or a scowl when Andy could finish off the evening with a good smack in the face? My roommate Parvin's Pishy cat can attest to that, having been on the receiving end of that impact more than a few times.

Patience, Her Outstanding Virtue

In contrast to Andy's mercurial outbursts, she was forbearing. She waited long hours for me to return home in the evenings while I tended to my feral cat colonies. When I opened the front door, her eyes were initially disapproving - You're still seeing other cats?! - though, they soon gave way to a gracious welcome as she jumped into my arms and positioned her paws on my shoulders. Never once did she rebuke me for serving dinner late. Quietly, she would purr out high marks for my Effort, Attentiveness, and Affection. The purring would sometimes shift into an intensity that resembled the cooing of a dove.

I will never forget the times she waited for me to finish brushing my teeth. The smell of peppermint still lingering on my breath, Andy was driven to press her nose against my lips. Though, nothing could top the aroma of Chinese herbs loosely held in a brown paper bag. To Andy, they were finer than all the catnip in the world and she rolled around on top of the bag anointing herself in their essence.

And then, in the middle of the night Andy would lay her head next to mine but not without telling me, "Yep, yep, yep, you are mine." Her yepping sounds revved my heart without fail. Regardless of the fact that I was asleep, I was always conscious of her on some level for she had taken up residence in my soul a long time ago.

Her Spirit Endures

When Andy developed tumors on the outside of her body, she ignored them - they simply were extra weight to her. Nor was she interested in sympathy.
Nonsense, she told the sympathy-givers with her penetrating eyes, stop that detestable boo-hooing! If they still insisted on feeling sorry for her, she flat out left the room. For, my valiant feline little girl never considered herself sick and never behaved as such. And on the second operation to remove cancer, more than a year after the initial surgery, she sprang back so quickly that she was sitting in the window only a few hours after the anesthesia wore off, resuming her surveillance of the neighborhood. The skilled and loving hands of her veterinarian, Dr. Henry Pasternak, bought her time - two healthy years - the equivalent of 8 cat years.

And, in the silence that followed her last breath at 2:17 in the morning of March 10, 2007, I wrapped Andy in a soft blanket, held her in my arms and told her how much I would always love her. Several hours later, I awakened in a twilight state and saw the image of her face rising above me; her smile was as wide as the bedroom, and I heard the words she'd waited all these years for me to receive:

Stop trying so hard, you big monkey!
It was a great honor to live with this exquisite cat, one of God's finest works of Creation. Her spirit is alive just as yours and mine, it is the only "matter" that endures after this mortal coil is dropped.

Andy's presence continues to drive me to care for all cats, but especially those who have never enjoyed a home of their own.
Beverly Berwald