Ellie the Cat, our sweet white calico cutie who provided much joy and laugher in our household, passed away Sept 21 after a very short illness. She was seven years old.
Born in Northern Virginia as the youngest and smallest of her litter, Ellie and her older sister Kiwi were promptly separated from their ailing mother, and were paired up with another Mama cat.
Her foster parents didn’t expect her to survive. She was so small and weak, a classic runt, but that surrogate Mama cat took her in, and nursed both sisters until they were both strong, playful, and ready to be adopted a few months later.
Kiwi and Ellie came into our lives on July 4, 2008, just after the Independence Day parade in Fairfax, County. We were running errands and noticed an adoption event taking place at the nearby pet store. Both Miss C and I were adamant we only wanted to stop to look, that we had no interest in actually adopting a pet.
Martin knew not to take our word.
He knew it was over the second Miss C pointed to the smallest white kitten with brown and black spots, and asked if she could hold it. Kittens that small must be adopted in pairs, so that’s how Kiwi ended up home with us, too.
We were in love.
Even though she was the smallest of the two, Ellie was much more bold. She was the first to scamper out of her carrier, the first to investigate her new home. She was not intimidated by high shelves or long jumps.
I thought for certain that kind of independence meant she was going to be the troublemaker, but on the contrary, she was simply a dignified leader, never needing to push things over ledges or topple over bags to find what was inside. Though she remained the smaller of the two, she had no fear. Yet she knew her limits, never needed to be daring, and was perfectly content to keep an eye on the rest of the household, especially her sister Kiwi, who did grow up with a penchant for trouble.
A few months after adopting Ellie, Lola was born. A year later, Patches der Hund joined the family, and just a year after that, Jaz arrived.
Ellie never seemed to mind her canine sister. Nor did she mind the babies.
But she became uber-protective of me during both my pregnancies, and seemed to sense when I wasn’t feeling well. It’s become family folklore how she and Kiwi followed me around the day I went into labor with Jaz: at one point, Ellie jumped onto my hips to gently massage my skin with her paws as I reclined on the sofa.
That cat knew something.
Amongst her many talents, Ellie the Cat was also a fresh laundry aficionado, always eager to leave a few strands of her silky white fur on any outfit. For a time, she also had a preference for high heels, and found that the more expensive the shoe, the chewier the leather heels and straps.
I quickly learned to hide my shoes and offer more chewy treats for her.
Most nights, she preferred sleeping with Miss C in a pile of blankets, but also liked to lounge all day in her various cat nests around the house. A spot in the sun was ideal, of course.
And while she loved us all in the family, even the dog, she was really the girls’ cat.
Oh, did that cat love her girls. She was sweet with Jaz. She tolerated his pokes and pulls, and allowed him to carry her around.
But the girls were HER girls.
She slept with them. Played with them. Followed them everywhere around the house. Sat on the edge of the bathtub and literally drank their bath water.
She was patient and sweet, loving and gentle. She never bit them, scratched them, or showed her annoyance.
At our house in Northern Virginia, she paced by the glass door waiting for Miss C to return home from school, and climbed their bunk bed and allowed them to build blanket fortresses and pillow castles around her.
Beyond the occasional slices of tuna or new scratching post, perhaps the most exciting thing to happen to Ellie was her move to Germany.
After all, Ellie was an indoor cat. She never expressed an interest to go outside and hunt. Before the move, her only trips were to the vet. Yet, earlier this year, she made the move with us, and she and Kiwi flew across the Atlantic Ocean.
And once in Germany, they lived for a month in a high-rise hotel where their litter box was refreshed multiple times a day, they got an abundance of treats, and they got to watch the world from the highest window ever.
It could have been really stressful for them, but as long as she was able to sleep on the foot of the bed with her girls, Ellie was fine.
But even so, I know Ellie was glad to finally settle into our new home in Germany. She had plenty of rooms to explore, and lots of windows and sunbeams. We purchased them a tall wicker cat tree, and pushed it into one of the sunniest corners in the house, and it became one of her most favorites spots for a nap.
I have thousands of selfies and videos of Ellie, captured over the years by Martin, me, and the girls, each a testament to the love and attention she felt every single day of her life.
Her food dish was always full, and water was always aplenty.
She always had a warm place to sleep, and a person nearby ready to scratch her ears. She licked our toes and groomed us, and made it clear she loved us, too.
She never spent a single night alone, and never felt fearful or abandoned.
She more than likely contracted the virus as a little kitten, perhaps passed along by her mother, and it stayed dormant in her body all these years, until something triggered it to attack her body within days.
She was rushed to the animal hospital in the middle of the night, and was given loads of oxygen and nutrients while they ran every test imaginable to figure out how to help as her systems began to shut down.
And when the inevitable became clear, she had a family of five rush to her side.
The very last thing she felt were all our hands on her body as two brave girls whispered all their love into her ears.
And the very last person she saw was Martin, who stayed with her until the very end.
Ellie the Cat, you won’t be forgotten. We love you.