Agatha and I made the last trip to Dr. Dunn today. She had gotten really bony and weak, and this morning went part-way under the guest bed to sleep instead of one of her usual sleeping spots. I think it was the "find a place to hide" behavior, and certainly I've been expecting it. Advanced kidney disease, high blood pressure, blindness, and most probably cancer finally have overwhelmed her.
I adopted Agatha as a kitten through the auspices of my cat sitter at the time, a woman who financed her rescue operations through pet sitting. I picked her out from her litter mates at a vet's office in Jackson, Miss. (where I was living) for her pretty calico coloring and dainty little white front paws. They were calling her "Agnes"--I modified this to Agatha for the little-old-lady feel, thinking of those dainty white gloves.
She was a total beta, timid, spooked at sudden noises even when it was only me sneezing. She hated car rides beyond the usual cat level--that first trip home from the vet she wet the carrier, and the 7-hour drive from Jackson to Atlanta when I moved was a nightmare despite the tranquilizers (for her, though maybe I should have had some too). These last few years, though, she seemed to have decided that hiding from every visitor was not really worth all that effort, and would even allow the neighbors to pet her and offer treats.
That was with everyone else--from me, she needed affection. Any weekend day where I was home around 10 AM, she'd appear for lap time and become a purring cat-round. On chilly winter nights she'd hop up on the bed and duck under the covers to snuggle up next to me, then later in the night move to the foot of the bed on top of the covers. After she went blind last fall, I had to get cat steps for the bed so she could still be on the bed for that hour of reading and cat-snuggling I have before going to sleep most evenings.
She was the cat most likely to find and posses the warm spot, wherever it was--the sunny place by the patio door, the folded towel under my desk lamp, and these last few years the special bed in the Cat Room with an incandescent light aimed at it. She was also a catnip addict, taking it fresh or dried, in any shaped toy on offer. The really good 'nip would warrant grabbing the toy in both paws and rubbing it over her head. She was the most assiduous sharpener of claws I've ever had, and she managed to shred the back corners of my sofa-bed down to the wood frame before I spotted the damage.
Timidity and submission to the other cats of the household didn't mean that she didn't express her wishes most forcefully at times. I'd be sitting at my desk, back to the door, and would hear an imperious "Ow!". Agatha would be in the doorway, commanding my services. As soon as I got up from the chair she'd turn and head to the living room, where she'd flop on the carpet next to her brush. Or she'd go to the back door to indicate a need for an escorted trip to the yard for some lemongrass or catnip--or I could go pick the greenery and bring it to her as an alternative. Guess that's where I ranked in the pecking order.
Good bye, Miss Agatha-cat. You are missed.