Back in April of 2001, I found myself at PetSmart one Saturday morning with my daughter. We had been out having a little "girl" time together, and playing with the puppies and kittens at PetSmart's Adoption Event seemed like a fun thing to do.
We ended up leaving PetSmart with a little black kitten with huge eyes that I thought would make a perfect first anniversary present for my new hubby, who adores cats. I wasn't sure how he would react to a living, breathing anniversary present, but judging by the tears in his eyes when Baby Girl and I handed over that little black scrap of fur to him, she was the perfect choice.
We thought long and hard about a unique name for our kitten, and finally came up with Osira (pronounced oh-SEER-ah) which we reasoned would be a feminine form of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld. She didn't seem to mind one way or the other, so the name stuck.
Being the pushovers we are, we let her sleep in our bed with us from the very beginning. She soon found her favorite spot: curled up into a ball inside the curve of Hubby's arm. Ten years later, it's still her favorite sleeping spot, but she's a lot bigger now and so she snuggles up as close as she can get between his arm and ribs, then lays her front paws and head on his shoulder.
Over the years she's become an equal opportunity cuddler, so now she alternates between cuddling with Hubby and snuggling up with me. I've woken up at times in the middle of the night with the top of her head shoved up underneath my chin as she's snuggling me, and realized that it was her snoring that woke me up.
Osira seems to think that Hubby and I are her babies, because she loves to climb onto our chests and try to wash our faces. As for me, I know where that tongue has been, so she doesn't get very far with me, just washes my chin and my cheek briefly before I feel obliged to put her down and go wash my face the human way.
But with Hubby, she's in seventh heaven. It's hilarious to watch how carefully and lovingly she'll wash his chin, then his cheeks, and then she'll reach up with her paw and grab his head and pull it down so that she can wash his ears. If he doesn't respond fast enough, she'll grab his head with both paws and pull down hard so that she can get to those dirty, nasty ears that need her immediate attention.
She's also one of the few kitties of ours that will actually sit and gaze into your eyes for long periods of time, as if she's trying to look into your soul. Most of our other kitties are skittish about being looked straight in the eye, but Osira seems to need the intimate contact.
Osira is an old lady now, overweight and cranky. She never took too well to our other kitties, who invaded her territory and forced her to share her humans over four years ago. But of them all she's the most social, being the only one who will approach a visitor in our house for attention, eventually jumping into their lap whether invited or not.
This has been a tough year for Osira. She's had two surgeries: the first to remove a very painful bladder stone, and the second to remove a fibrosarcoma, which was basically a long thin lump underneath her skin that turned out to be cancerous. She's also on daily medication and a special diet, so she's become a bit of a high-maintenance kitty as she's approaching old age.
The long term outlook for cats who survive a fibrosarcoma isn't very good, so we're appreciate the time that we have left with our girl. She gets lots of extra attention these days, and more patience when she's having a bad day, which are coming more often now.
For the last month or so her "personal space bubble" has gotten larger and she's taken to growling and hissing at the other cats when they invade that bubble, especially Sissy, whom she hates with a red hot passion. Sissy takes extreme pleasure in coming within two feet of Osira, sitting down, and glaring at her, which is very rude in kitty manners.
In the last couple of months, Osira has started playing with one of our youngsters, Blackie, which has totally surprised and delighted us. Blackie is the gentlest of the other kitties, and seems to understand that she's older and doesn't have claws like he does, so he's very careful when he plays with her.
At least once a day I'll hear Blackie trill a "play call" to Osira, and then he'll walk over and flop down in front of her, showing her his belly and mewing, looking up at her upside-down from a subordinate position. She'll look down at him, sometimes she'll lick his head, and then she'll pounce on him and the tumbling will begin.
It's good to see the old girl with a little spark left in her. We're hoping that she keeps that spark for a long time.