In 1990 my second year of college I moved into my first apartment with my roommate. The move held incredible symbolism to me signifying my arrival into adulthood. Having just lost our family dog Tess months before I wanted to get a new pet but this time I wanted a cat.
My roommate and I finally found a woman selling a litter of cute 7-week-old kittens and we each selected one. I chose Kayla for her white dot on her nose; my roommate chose Leah because she was so mellow (Leah was Chloe’s first name which he changed to Chloe after she’d been Leah for about 1-2 weeks. “It just sounds better,” he said. And it did…Chloe just seemed to fit).
Over time Chloe and Kayla started to migrate perpetually into my room and adopted me as their “main dad”. Chloe especially seemed to want to snuggle with me at night and I eventually “stole her” from my roommate.
It was Kayla Chloe and me
against the world :)…
Eventually it became apparent that Chloe thought of she and I as a “couple”. Many of my girlfriends found themselves having to cajole Chloe into understanding their presence in my life. But it was Irma who felt Chloe’s full wrath. When Irma moved in with me in 1993 Chloe found it appropriate to “mark” Irma’s belongings. Nothing subtle about it…Irma was being relegated
to concubine status.
By this time Chloe was working on the record for fattest cat in Colorado weighing in at a respectable 20-odd pounds. It is best to think of Chloe less as a gourmet and more as a vacuum. She loved food. She loved dad. She peed on Irma’s belongings.
Life as Chloe saw it was good.
After Irma and I moved next to the CU School of Medicine in Denver Chloe began what felt like a steady ritual of impressing upon each new pet that came into our lives that this was her domain. Period. Thanks for stopping by. It didn’t take long for each “new hire” to know who the boss was. She held herself in a manner that commanded respect from other cats and she settled into a very comfortable routine.
One of the newbies to our clan was Bethany. Bethany was created from 3 parts tortoise 2 parts feline and 26 parts whine. For whatever reason Chloe decided to adopt Bethany. Y’know take her under her wing groom her,fatten her up…Cat stuff. And Bethany obliged. They became an instant pair-bond–a cuteness that pervaded them so much that we have hours of video of the two of them snuggled up together purring away.
Soon Bethany recognized she didn’t need to reciprocate and for the rest of their years together Bethany would seek Chloe out to care for her. And over time Chloe obliged. Bethany was Chloe’s one-child litter. I am glad she was spayed but I know Chloe had always wanted to be a mom. Bethany provided her that outlet and Chloe didn’t seem to mind a bit that Bethany never groomed her.
Bethany was as Irma and I said
Being fat has its downside even if you’re an indoor cat. Chloe couldn’t balance on a thin bar. Well it’s not so much one thin bar as it was the top of a cage (we used a large cage to introduce new pets to the household–safer for them that way). Chloe thought she’d just jump on top of the cage but there was a lot of her to jump. So her balance failed her one leg got caught twisted and cracked and then Irma and I were rushing her to the
Cat ER (Alameda East).
Now being in medicine it’s fun to watch veterinarians work. They’re just amazing. I deal with one species they deal with any species. Chloe met an orthopedic surgeon who works mostly on cats. That bears repeating–a cat orthopedic surgeon. He would develop a special connection with Chloe since she broke her leg twice. Well sorta. He fixed her leg (Chloe was aspiring to be the 6-million Dollar Cat (it’s good to aspire for things I suppose)) and because she was fat she snapped the plates which had set her leg prompting a second surgery in two weeks.
This new medical experience opened up to Chloe what she felt she would be best at in life: veterniary assistant. Chloe aspired to train veterinarians.
The whole fracture thing opened up Chloe’s eyes to Irma and it was then that they bonded. No longer a concubine Irma was now graduated to second wife. Chloe loved Irma so much. You could always tell that Chloe loved you–she’d lick your nose. Usually raw. But that was Chloe.
We put Chloe on a diet (an accomplishment to be sure) and got her down to a svelte 12 pounds. To celebrate I graduated from medical school and we moved to Florida (at least as Chloe saw it). Here she met many vets to deal with ailments ranging from kidney problems diarrhea and yup fracturing that same old leg again (the plates failed). Oh and the story of how Chloe became a one-eyed cat is somewhere in the middle there (scatched eye infection surgery). Our vet enjoyed showing us the width of Chloe’s file. And he should be proud: we paid for his office car and half of his new house. Chloe’s occupation was in full swing.
And so it was that routine set it. Chloe was as Irma and I were fond of saying warm fat dry and happy. And she was. Bethany would let Chloe groom her Chloe would exfoliate Irma’s and my noses
and life was good.
Chloe was the first in our house to know Malokai was conceived: she wouldn’t leave Irma’s side for two weeks before we even knew Irma was pregnant. Chloe decided to mother Irma and help her through pregnancy (whatever Irma couldn’t eat due to nausea Chloe gladly finished off–just to help ‘course). Chloe accepted Malokai as one of the family (the highest honor bestowed by a cat) and even as recently as the past two weeks felt obliged to nap with Irma and Kai every afternoon.
That was the thing about Chloe. I guess you’d have to be there but she had this amazing purr. It was a sedative. Her purr was loud strong relaxing and potent. Chloe was the only one of our cats who would snuggle completely against our chests and stay put all night no matter how often we tossed or turned. She was always just there snuggled against one of us or exactly between us purring so loudly. And Chloe always purred. Even when she was off training her vets :).
I am glad I recorded her purr several months ago. Listening to it now it’s hard to believe such a strong purr could ever be silenced.
Chloe began to lose weight energy and some of her zest for grooming Bethany about 5 or 6 months ago. She ultimately weighed in at a cachectic 6 pounds this past week. Irma and I were struggling with the vet to reconcile what she could have that was seemingly causing her to waste away without any abnormal labs. An expensive and likely invasive work-up loomed and Irma and I were bereft. I started to brace myself for the worse but that doesn’t mean I was ready. Irma and I weren’t ready for this amazing story
to have an ending.
So Chloe always the practical one decided to make the decision for us about how to deal with her mysterious and unrelenting illness. She let go. As her last act of love and adoration she let Irma and I know she was okay with everything and she let go. We didn’t even have to decide to put her down…she left us quietly and
determinedly this morning.
Our noses need exfoliating Bethany’s a mess and Chloe our sweet baby is gone. But not forgotten. Ever. She was on loan from whatever cosmic force there is and we were able to savor her life from beginning to end. She saw us through the most tumultuous and hardest times and was there at our best. Her love was unwavering…
Our hearts are broken but I wouldn’t change anything. As strange as it sounds I guess I’m a widower now
at least as Chloe would see it.
I cannot express in words the amalgam of deepest sorrow tears joy and laughter that losing her has left us feeling. She wasn’t just a pet nor was she just family. She was part of our soul and part of the very fabric of our lives. It just didn’t seem right for us to mourn her alone. You needed to know Chloe a bit. You needed to understand how much this loss hits us. Chloe was amazing and we sit home in stunned sadness missing her terribly.
Jason & Irma
|Chloe Patra Persoff
|5, January 2002