Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sheba 1995 - 2016

Taken probably around 2000

I have some sad personal news to report. It is with sadness and emotion that I report that my beloved cat Sheba has just died earlier today. It's been very difficult for me. I've had her for the better part of 20 years.

My mom had adopted her from the North Shore Animal League way back in August 1995. I remember that I was on vacation at the time with my father and my sister in Indonesia, and when I came back home there she was in my apartment, the same one I'm living in right now. What a nice little treat she was. I was 13 years old.

Taken around 1999-2000
Just think about how long ago that was. 1995 was the dawn of the internet age, when it just had started getting popular. Only 14% of Americans were even online at the time according to PEW, and I'd be surprised if most had even heard of email. We were using dial up back then, and paying for internet service by the minute with AOL dominating the market. This was before Facebook and Google had even come out. Yahoo had just came out earlier in the year. Most people didn't even have a cell phone at that time. I remember people were still using beepers back then. Beepers! Can you believe how far we've come in the lifetime of my cat?

And so in August 1995 I came home from vacation to a new cat. We already had another cat that me and my mother snatched off of the street and took home. This new cat's name was Sheba. I think she was named by the people at the animal shelter because I don't remember us naming her. But it was the perfect name for her. She looked just like the cat in the Sheba commercials, which is why I think they named her that. She was a beautiful Russian Blue, with a slender figure, green eyes, and a graceful, elegant stride. She was very feminine. I'd have visions of Sheba being the cat of Cleopatra.

Taken around 2007 with my Aztec sunstone painting in my old apartment

She had personality too. She wasn't one of those cats that slept all day and only got up to eat. She had lots of energy that she kept well into her later years. She'd jump up on things and move around for hours. Sometimes this would actually annoy me because she'd make noise when I needed to sleep or to concentrate on something. I would sometimes wish she was one of those lazy cats that slept all day. But usually I did love her energetic poise. Just a week ago she was jumping up to my bathroom sink where she preferred to drink water right out of the faucet.

For International Cat Day back on August 8th, I "Trumped "my cat for her 20th birthday.  

Sheba also liked getting attention. She'd jump on my lap when I was sitting on the couch and stand there and give me this look that basically said, "Hello, I'm adorable, I want you to pet me." I almost always obliged and she'd purr and eventually nestle in the nook between my legs to take a nap. She also didn't mind being held for a while. I loved scooping her up and cuddling her in my arms, and giving her little head a kiss. She wasn't shy around people, but she never let anyone but me hold her. Russian Blue's are known for being loyal only to their owners.

February 2015
When my dad moved to New Jersey around 2000 my sister moved in with him and took Sheba with her. At the time I was still mostly attached to my other cat and so I didn't mind. While living there for several years Sheba and I grew apart. I remember visiting my dad's apartment and she'd run from me when I'd try to pick her up. My dad instantly fell in love with her. I couldn't blame him. Sheba had that effect on people. My dad didn't even like cats, but Sheba was special. I remember hearing a story of how one day Sheba had jumped from their third floor window and went missing for several days. My sister said my dad was crying over this, and my dad never cried or showed emotion. This was a testament to the effect Sheba had on people. Everyone I introduced her to said she was the most adorable little thing. Eventually they found her somehow and brought her back to the apartment.

Then, when my dad moved a few years later his new apartment didn't allow pets, and they gave Sheba to my mother and one day my mom came over to my apartment that I had just move into and dumped Sheba on me. I still had my other cat. And so now I had two. I remember Sheba staying on the top of my fridge for a week afraid to come down. They say Russian Blue's don't like changes of environment. Eventually she got used to my apartment and it was then that we really started bonding. When my mother moved to the west coast I moved back into the apartment Sheba originally lived in and brought her back full circle. My other cat died in 2008 of a tumor, and since then it's been me and Sheba.

Our relationship had grown very close, especially in the past several years. There were times when I was going through depression and difficult life circumstances and it was just me and her. Me and my baby girl. That's one of the beautiful things about cats. They don't judge you by how you look or how much money you make. They judge you by how you treat them.

Taken around 2000

There were some issues though. She was a very thirsty cat and needed lots of fresh water. As a consequences of that she urinated a lot, which meant her litter box was always full. She also vomited a lot. I'd have to feed her small amounts of food in frequent servings because if I fed her too much she'd either eat it all up and then vomit it out an hour later, or she'd waste half of it and it would go bad.

Taken November 2015

Other than that she was a very healthy cat. She never had a single medical issue in the entire 20 years we had her. No allergies, no sicknesses. Nothing. Other than getting her fixed and declawed when she was almost still a kitten, we never took her to the vet for any issue not one single time. She would wake me up early every morning with her meows and greet me with those same meows every day when I got home from work, in the expectation of food. It will be weird getting used to coming home to an empty house now.

Taken October 2015

So this hasn't been a good weekend for me. My baby girl is dead. She was the best cat I could have ever asked for and I'm so lucky I got to be her owner for almost her entire life. I will never have another cat as good as her. I could ask why she had to die but I know better. We all have to die, eventually. Death is the only thing that is certain in life. It's one of life's ironies. I'm thankful she lived as long as she did. The average life expectancy for a cat is 15. And Sheba was 20 years and 7-8 months old when she died, which is about 99 in human years. She had a long life, and I hope a good one. In my teen years I did a few mean things to her. I was just a stupid adolescent boy. I made sure I treated her like a queen when I grew up. I hope that overall I gave her a very good life. I have an appointment with the vet tomorrow morning where I plan to have her cremated and her ashes kept.

I'm gonna miss my baby, so much. So much. But as I gaze out into the sunset, I recognize that life goes on. And it's the finitude of life that makes it special. I'm just lucky to have had Sheba in my life.

RIP Sheba 1995 - 2016 

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