Thursday, 9 August 2012

101: Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years. It hardly seemed possible that Jade had been born sixteen years ago today. Miranda had been there all that time, from her birth to the little party she had planned for that afternoon.

Jade had been one of three and they had been the first births Miranda had looked after by herself. She had always had one of the others to help and advise her but this time, she was on her own. Bessie, Jade's mother, had been part of the family for three years and knew Miranda but would she trust her with the babies?

Jade was the first to be born and Miranda fell in love with her instantly. The tiny body squirmed and she waved her legs about, still wet from delivery. Miranda scooped her up and dried her in a soft towel, before helping deliver the next two babies. She dried them all and the sight of three snuggly bodies nuzzling Bessie for a feed brought a tear to her eye.

Eye opening usually takes ten days and she marvelled as Jade's eyes slowly peeked out from under their lids. Another couple of weeks saw them start weaning and Bessie started to litter train the babies. A month later they were ready for new homes but Miranda decided Jade was special and she wanted to keep her. They became firm friends. Well as much as a Persian chooses to have firm friends.

Over the years Miranda and Jade helped each other through life. Miranda sat up nights with Jade and her own litters of kittens, even helping break the sac when a kitten came out sac-intact. She nursed her through bugs and even apologized for making Jade wear that collar after she had been spayed. In turn, Jade kept a watchful eye on Miranda's own baby Jessie, when she arrived. When her marriage broke down, Jade climbed unbidden onto Miranda's lap, curling into a ball and her rhythmic sleepy breathing calming Miranda.

And now she was sixteen. How many cat years Miranda wondered. Googling, she reckoned as many as 80, a real old lady. They would have only a few more years together at most but Jade was in good health and Miranda watched carefully for aches or creaks that might need a vet's attention.

Miranda had boiled some chicken and rice and mixed them for Jade's tea. Just for once, she hand fed her, passing chunks of meat and grains of rice one by one to her cat. Jessie bought her a sparkly new collar and gave her coat a special brush.

Then Jade curled up in Miranda's lap and fell asleep, the cat's warm rhythmic breathing lulling her into a nap of her own.

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