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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crystal The Perfect Cat

Crystal, my family's cat, was sent to us from God. Her name Crystal, was given to us by my son, Alex. The name fit her because when glass crystal is held in the light, a multi-colored rainbow shines. She was like a rainbow of colors that reflected the light of calm, peace, security, loyalty, love, warmth, and devotion to our family.

We decided to get Crystal after many years of begging my husband Jim, for a cat. He grew up with an outside cat and I wanted our cat to be indoors so we could grow closer to her. Jim finally agreed after I went back to teaching. The boys said we needed something special because I was going back to work. They were not excited about after school care.

We got Crystal through an agency called Adopt A Pet. Volunteers acted like foster moms and knew each cat's personalities. I had many conversations about the perfect cat for our family. I said, "Yes, I want one with short hair because I know long hair cats shed all over the house. Yes I want a cat that is friendly and sits in your lap. Yes I want a cat without claws because I don't want my furniture scratched up."

I had finally settled on a short haired male, who was good with children. After arriving at the agency we discovered the perfect cat I had picked out was sick. It was against the rules to take home a sick cat so I thought better to come back another day. At first the boys were disappointed, but later Alex's eyes peered toward a Persian cat with long white fluffy hair and huge golden eyes. He picked her up, nestled her head towards his, and shouted, "I want this one." I cringed when I saw her long hair and claws.

"Oh no Alex, her cat hair will shed all over the house and she has claws that scratch furniture. See that cute Tabby over there with short reddish hair," I begged.

Michael came over about that time and said, "She's soft and pretty, let me hold her."

I knew then there was no turning back. Crystal was our new cat. My perfect plan had been changed. We brought her home and I felt better because her silver hair matched our light colors I chose for decorating. It was as if she was meant to add a certain flair to our home. She just blended with the background of our family. We showed her the litter box and she never had an accident until her last year of life.

I took her to the vet to make sure she was okay because she had been limping. Dr. Benjamin told us she was probably five years old by looking at her teeth. We told him she came from a home that had a hundred cats. The lady just couldn't take care of her any more. I'm not sure what her name was in her former home. He said her legs were just fine and didn't know why she limped.

We later solved the mystery. We think she had to fight for food because in the first month, she limped before the cat food bowl. We noticed a pattern around dinner time. It was a way to get sympathy from the cat lady. She pretended to be hurt, hoping for more generous food servings. She stopped limping after several months. But when Crystal was nervous, or upset she reverted back. It reminded me of my own bad habits when I feel vulnerable or insecure. Through the years we seldom saw her limp again. She felt more secure and safe with us.

Over time I called her the perfect cat. She never jumped on our kitchen counter. She didn't do the things you hear about from other cat owners. She was just there for us. If the boys played video games, she laid on the floor as if she were watching. If I was in the living room reading a book by the fire, she settled into a comfy chair next to me or gazed out the window at birds in our Live Oak. She was happy to share a part of our lives. She never went outside, so we didn't have to worry about letting her in and out. She strolled into the room where Jim plays video games. She laid in front of his feet for her daily petting. She loved it and always came back for more. We all said Crystal loved him best.

When Alex got Mr. Wiggles, A Teddy Bear Hamster for a pet, we were afraid Crystal might eat him. Sometimes Mr. Wiggles escaped downstairs and found his way to the kitchen cupboard. We looked all over the house for Mr. Wiggles and feared the worst.
Panicked I thought, where does a hamster go? So I opened the kitchen pantry and there was Mr. Wiggles snacking on fallen cereal. Crystal never bothered him. She knew how much Alex loved Mr. Wiggles. He was part of the family.

Crystal had amazing talents. She could play Kitty Hockey. We discovered the talent when we saw her batting a plastic top to a bottle of Diet Coke. I got on the kitchen floor and hit it back to her. With my amazement she hit it right back to me with her paw. I called Michael and Alex into the room and said,"You have to see this." We wanted to see how many times Crystal hit the plastic cap back and forth like a game of hockey. I think the record was twenty. At the time this was most exciting because both boys were avid Roller Hockey Players for the Redwings.

If we had a party or friends over, Crystal was in the middle of our center hallway posing with one paw outstretched and the other paw tucked under her silver fluffy body. Her head was held high as if it say, " I'm proud to be a part of this family and I belong here." She stayed in that position for hours. People always said, "She's such a pretty cat." And we always answered, "I know."

I brought home my school's library cat for a weekend stay to see if Crystal was comfortable with a roomy. I had never seen Crystal hiss so loud when she saw Libby, the library cat. Her tiny body managed to get in the attach mode and Libby quickly hid under a chair. I didn't want Crystal to tear up our library cat so I kept Libby in our bedroom. Jim suffered through two nights of Libby jumping all over our bed. Crystal loved us so much she didn't want to share attention.

When we took our long family vacations, Crystal stayed at Grandma Palmer's home. The first few days she stayed under the dining room table. Later, She ventured out to the living room. Grandma Palmer laid a quilt on her red velvet chair for her to sleep on. My mom said, "Crystal only stays in the living room chair. She's no bother. Does she have to go?" Grandma's home was like her second home. She felt safe and warm in the comfy red velvet chair.

I knew Crystal was dying because she was loosing weight. Dr. Benjamin said she was very old, about seventeen. It was hard to let her go. I had conversations with myself, "Should I take her to the vet to put her to sleep?"

It must be natures way of letting go because she stopped eating or drinking water. I tried to give her little drops with a syringe. As she walked down the hall it was slow. Her frail body wobbled but she kept going. She didn't want to give up life with us.

When I left the room she managed to move to a different area of our home. Michael had a friend over to play video games the night before she died. I went to the family room to tell the boys to go to bed, it was late. I found Crystal laying to the left of him. She was posing like she always does.

Michael, "She's posing for you. She dragged her tired body over to where you notice her. She loves you that much. She's saying goodbye."

Later I found her in front of our bedroom door. It was her way of saying I love you, I am here for you. I don't know how her brain was able to even think but her passion for our family was strong until the end. She was the best cat ever. We miss her. It's not the same without her. When we go to heaven I pray Crystal will be there with us. She will be looking up at us with her loving golden eyes.

This photo was taken a week before she died.

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