When people saw her, the first thing they'd say way, "That cat is still alive?"
Phoebe decided today she'd had just about enough of that nonsense and finally did what we'd all expected her to do 17 years ago.
Truly, she had beaten the odds several times. The first time was when she contracted "something like feline leukemia" when she was just over a year old. That was all our vet at the time would tell us. All I know is I spent two weeks nursing her back to health by keeping her in our powder room and going in three times a day to administer drugs that she was determined not to ingest. For two weeks I looked like I had been picking blackberries with my teeth and her vet bill set us back three months. But she was Heir 2's confidant and friend, so what's a mother to do?
She survived but, the vet-at-the-time said, she probably would only survive a few years.
So we let her have her way. She came and went as she pleased -- mostly outside in those days. Back then she loved to curl up on the tractor seat and sleep the day away. She'd come in at night -- to pee in the toaster. It took us awhile to figure this out -- her aim was that good. But someone finally caught her in the act (four toasters later) and we learned to put the cutting board over the toaster slots. So she switched to the stove -- again, with uncanny accuracy that left no obvious trace until you attempted to use the burner, at which point -- well, I hope you're not eating...
Why did we keep her after all that?
Well, just about when we were ready to drive The Last Mile to the vet...Phoebe would go on vacation.
Two weeks, every June. She'd simply disappear. It took a few years for us to realize Phoebe was double-dipping; somewhere was another family who thought she was theirs. Apparently this was a significantly more successful family, because they went on vacation for two weeks every June -- and sending her to a kennel. They thought they had a cat that they "threw out every night" (like Fred Flintstone) -- we had a cat that came home every night.
In view of the aforementioned vet bill, we got to keep her. Besides, she was only going to last "a few years," right?
And, let's face it -- she was just so darn cute...
As she got older, Phoebe became more of a recluse, finally never venturing further than Heir 2's bedroom. We called her Miss Havisham, not only because she never saw the light of day, but also because she had just as nasty a personality. The only one she adored was Heir 2.
When Heir 2 went to college and Heir 1 moved into his room, he briefly -- under duress -- adopted Pheebs. It didn't last long. Their arguments are legendary and it's a draw as to who was more boisterous -- Heir 1 when she peed on his keyboard or Phoebe defending her actions with her raspy "meows." When she took out his friend's gaming console, she was kicked out.
She was slowing down by then anyway. The most mischief she could cause was to pee in the dogs' bowl or flip a few papers on the floor. She did manage to install 413 shortcuts to a program I didn't even know I owned on to my computer desk top. It was her swan song of subversive behavior.
This afternoon, she slipped away; but not, Dirtman said, before getting in the last word. Before she died she let out a loud, raspy "MEOW!"
Dirtman says he knew exactly what she was saying, but I don't use that kind of language on this blog...