Camille

Camille 1994-2010

 

Camille was our first and oldest cat, and she has been a part of our family for 14 years. When Treesh and I first received her, she was probably already about two years old. She had been abandoned, left with a litter of kittens at the back door of Faire Isle Animal Clinic on Vashon Island, Washington, where we lived at the time. They were in foster care until homes were found for all but one of the kittens, and then we joyfully received Camille and the remaining kitten into our home. (The kitten we named Emma; you can hear her story on the TameBear Radio podcast, episode TBR25 titled “Little Emma.”) That was in 1996. We’ve adopted other cats since then, but Camille has always been “Queen Cat,” ruler of the household, and she kept the others in line.

I remember how strange it was at first to have this animal roaming around the house. How was it any different than a racoon or a possum; except for the fact that Camille was domesticated, already housebroken, and gradually warming up to us. It was fascinating just to watch her explore everywhere, and then once she felt at home, to sit in a sunny window like she owned the place.

We had decided at first that a cat does not belong in a bedroom. But Camille really wanted to be with us the first night. She kept pawing our closed bedroom door, keeping us awake, until we finally let her in. We wanted her to stay downstairs and look after Emma, but what could we do? Once we let her into the bedroom we were able to finally get to sleep… only to be awoken an hour or so later by tiny squeaks coming from our bedroom closet. Camille had gone and fetched her kitten, brought her upstairs, and hid her there in a corner.

Camille was always such a good cat! She was a caring mother, she never scratched or bit anybody, she always behaved when we took her to the vet. She wasn’t demanding in any way but enjoyed our company. She was a talkative cat especially at mealtimes. She loved chasing Da Bird, and loved being outside even when we put her on a tether.

Two years after her arrival, Camille moved with us to Goshen, Indiana. She sat on the bench seat right next to me in the Penske truck and traveled for three days across eight states. Over the years she tolerated a couple more kittens and a feral cat we took in, even though she probably would have prefered us not to. (Especially the kittens — Camille really did not like the kittens.)

About four years ago she began showing some signs of illness. We took her to the vet numerous times, but never got to the bottom of it. She outlived the more severe diagnoses, but in the end was confined to one room away from the other cats. This past week Camille was no longer interested in food, hardly drank any water, and was becoming dehydrated and lethargic. We did not want her death to be lingering or suffering in any way, so we made the hard decision Thursday night to put her down. I took her to the vet the next day, and brought her body home to be buried in the backyard.

It was an awfully sad day for both of us. It is amazing how another animal can become such a close and steadfast friend in life. On her last day, I kept asking myself “What is this mysterious, wonderous thing we call life?” I have no answer, but I keep asking; and it remains a mystery.

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