By Edith Morgan
She passed away quietly, after a shudder, several raspy breaths, and a faint “meow.” And so Mollie, my cat of more than 10 years, gave up the last of her nine lives, cradled in our arms and kept warm and stroked for several hours.
I have always been “a cat person.” Working full-time teaching, caring for a house, and mothering numerous foster children, I could not realistically care for a dog who would have needed daily walks. So cats always seemed the perfect companions for us.
I never went out looking for a cat – they always seemed to come to me; usually it was someone who had had to move to a new place that did not allow pets. Once I received two stunningly beautiful pure Persians, who came to me in a duffle bag, cuddled up together and zipped up, for the trip from Manhattan to Worcester. They seemed to be very comfortable in their new home with me, and spent most of their waking time arranging themselves and posing at the head of the stairs. They spent several happy years here, but as they were already older, I did not have them too long.
So I have over the last few decades been home to Siamese, long-haired orange cats, alley cats, and strays of various hues and dispositions – some sleek, some more rotund (like the one the kids called “fat cat”).
But the one that was with us the longest was Mollie. We did not name her – I would have hoped for a more interesting or unusual name, but we stayed with the name she had when she arrived here, in the company of a long-haired orange cat – who was a hunter and outdoor roamer. But right from the start, Mollie was an indoor cat – and definitely NOT a hunter. She spent the first two or three years here confined to my niece’s bedroom, out of the mainstream.
But when my niece moved out, Mollie suddenly found herself with the run of the whole house: three floors, a basement, and several adults who could pick her up, pet her, speak to her and provide lap space whenever she wanted it.
It took a long time for Mollie to warm up to other people: having spent so much time with just one person, she had to have time to get used to the stream of visitors to her world. But she eventually started to come down and “mix” and even selected her special visitors who were to be graced by her deigning to sit in their laps and allow them to per her.
There was not a question in our minds as to who owned the house: Mollie’s attitude was always that it was hers, and she allowed us to stay there, feed her, clean out her kitty litter box, and tend to her needs as she made them known to us.
This past year she developed an exploratory yen: she found her way into the space between the bathroom ceiling on the second floor and the kitchen ceiling on the first floor and spent several days in that space, refusing to come out. After we finally coaxed her out of there, didn’t she do it again TWICE!!! She also sniffed out where our kitchen mouse used to run across the floor, but of course it was below her dignity to chase it.
Mollie loved to sit on our shoulders when we watched TV or perched on my neck when I was reading. She always knew where I was trying to read the paper and plunked herself right down on that page. But she always rewarded our efforts with purring loudly and steadily!
We will sorely miss her – she was really a family member, independent and full of surprises.
Sleep in peace, Mollie.