Today I said goodbye to the beautiful Miss Zorretta cat.
17 years ago, in early summer, I was walking home from work, through town and I spotted a wee kitten, only about 6 weeks old, sitting on a bench outside Marks and Spencers on Sauchiehall Street. I remember asking everyone in the vicinity if they knew the kitten or who she belonged to but all I got were blank stares and shakes of the head. At that time I lived in a rented flat where pets weren’t allowed, but there was no way I could leave that poor wee kitten to fend for herself, so I put her in my pocket and took her home on the bus. She was very silent and trusting and happy in my pocket. I took her to the vet on Hyndland Street on the way home, where they reckoned she was about 6-8 weeks old but looked healthy, and I sneaked her into my flat, hoping the landlord, who lived next door, didn’t see her. Zorretta has a little white tip on the end of her tail and a white “mask” over her mouth. I decided to call her Zorro, despite knowing she was female. Over the next few months I would hide her in my bedroom hoping the landlord wouldn’t’ pay a visit. She was obsessed with playing with her catfish toy and would leap and throw it about like crazy. She loved curling up under the covers with me to sleep and would suck her tail noisily like a dummy, curled up next to me, a habit she never really grew out of.
I moved flat to share with my friend Susan, and Zorretta and Tai (Susan’s pure white kitten) went to stay with my Mum and Dad while our new flat was getting decorated (again hiding from the landlord). Mum and Dad were convinced that Zorretta was mute, as she never uttered a peep apart from purring, but when our flat was ready and the kittens were coming home, Zorretta decided that she didn’t like being in the car and shouted all the way home, proving that her vocal cords were in fine fettle. For a year, I shared the flat with Susan and the menagerie that she brought home from the vet’s where she worked as a nurse. Zorretta grew in size and from a tiny wee leggy kitten she grew into a big, incredibly strong healthy cat. She still loved her catfish toy, sucking her tail and her favourite sitting position was known as “superfishface”, where she stretched her forelegs out in front of her, SuperCat style. She swoops, she dives! Around this time it became apparent that Miss Zorro was such a wee sook that she became Zorretta, the girly, super affectionate version of Zorro, who loves kisses and cuddles.
Another temporary house move before I moved into my own place, this time to stay with Mags in Kelvindale, where one day Miss Zorretta was locked into the livingroom without food, water or a litter tray. When I got home, Zorretta told me the longest ever cat story without drawing breath, she was so disgruntled. She had left Mags a little present, unfortunately.
When I moved into my own place Susan had kept a little present for me, a feral tortie kitten, who had been abandoned in a box in Cathcart, with the words “Careful, Kitten Inside” written on it. And so, Zorretta had a catmate. I named the kitten Shaka, after a character in a Jeff Noon book, who was the embodiment of chaos. This kitten was a challenge for laid back, loving Zorretta, as she scaled the curtains, leapt about like a jack in the box, and generally caused chaos everywhere she went. Zorretta took some time to warm to Shaka, but eventually, they became friends, cuddling up for warmth together. Zorretta always got the best spot, with Shaka precariously balancing on the edge of the double decker radiator bed.
Over the years, Miss Zorretta, always a big cat, became saggy round the middle, and when she ran, her undercarriage would swing like skirts. Such a comical appearance, with that serious, plaintive little face. There was nothing Miss Z (pronounced Zee, also known as Zena, Zena Marie, Zorra and Super Fish Face) loved better than headrubs, mutual headbutts and cuddles, and she has been my constant cuddling companion for 17 years. She’s been my source of comfort through breakups and breakdowns, purring and headbutting me, with unconditional love through the good and bad times. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried into her fur, woken up face to face with a little black and white face opposite me on the pillow, my arms hugging her tightly while she purrs like an accordion. She has always trusted me, letting me play with her paws and tickle her furry belly, but the sight of nail clippers has always caused her to scream blue murder. Such a strong wrestler! Stealer of bread products, she who growls at melon.
A couple of years ago she was diagnosed with kidney failure and kidney stones. I thought I was going to lose her, but with love, the help of the vet school and a good diet, she’s been well, and her usual purry, loving self. But now, with an intestinal tumour, my girl has said her last goodbye. I will miss her terribly. Her silky fur, her cuddles and her purring, her head on the pillow.
Goodbye my best and most constant friend, I will never forget you, and the love and warmth you brought to my life.