August 21st 2007 6:02 pm
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Chloe was a special addition to our family. She was adopted in Lake Charles, LA, where my Dad was working at the time. Prior to Chloe, we began feeding another stray who had wandered onto our balcony. I named him Cameron, after a neighbouring town. We eventually gave him to what we thought would be a good home. When I was older, I learned the horrible truth that he had been shot with a BB gun (not by his owners). I am still troubled by this incident nearly 12 years later, and will never forget the orange cat that got stuck the tree, adjacent to our balcony.
Who we later presumed to be Chloe’s birth mother was seen walking around our apartment complex. She was a Siamese cat, who my Dad would see in the parking lot before leaving for work each morning. Never to let an animal go hungry, my Mom began leaving milk in the bushes for the cat (or any stray) to drink.
One morning, my Dad saw that a Siamese cat had been killed, and its body had been left in the parking lot. He was worried to tell my Mom about it, as she had shown so much care to nurture a timid Siamese. Alas, she was not the same kitten that she had been feeding.
Apartment tenants began asking what she was doing in the bushes, in a less than polite manner. We became fearful for newly christened Chloe’s safety, but she was too afraid to let my Mom pick her up. But after weeks of coaxing her, I had enough. I quietly approached her, massaged her neck, and scooped her up in my arms. Mom was flabbergasted that my bold approach had worked.
We assigned her a cardboard box, lined with a soft blanket, just as we had done with Cameron. We continued to feed her moist food from a pouch, water, and milk. She slept in her box, and I played with her when I returned home from school.
New tenants, with whom we shared a balcony with, moved in next door. They turned out to be drug dealers. For the most part they were quite friendly, and would make small talk about the cat. Still, not the most ideal living situation! They were eventually caught.
With the constant traffic up and down the stairs, and increasing number of strange people hanging around, we decided to lock Chloe up in our car at night. There, she would be safe with food and water, while it was cool enough for her during the winter months. One night she peed on the middle back seat of the car, and I was none to happy. I suppose it was to be expected.
At the end of March we went to Las Vegas. We boarded Chloe at the Farr Veterinary Hospital, along with Smudge and Kamara. They had never met Chloe, and obviously did not share the same kennel.
While at the hospital, Chloe was given all of her shots, along with a full medical examination. She weighed only 5lbs and 8 ounces. The vet also determined that she was a little under six months of age, and had already been spayed. We found it hard to believe that someone would abandon such a loving and beautiful pet, and would presumably leave their apartment without taking her.
When we returned from our trip, we decided to bring Chloe into our home. It was the 8th of April, 1996. Smudge was five, Kamara was three, and for the record, I was twelve years old. My parents thought the best way to integrate Chloe into our home was to keep her separately locked up in their bedroom and en suite bathroom, as we had previously done with Kamara. However, there was more cause for worry as Kamara had only been 3 weeks old at the time of his adoption, and Chloe was a six month old stray.
As time went by, we opened the bedroom doors, which had been closed to much curiosity. The three cats looked at each other. There was the occasional hiss, and some running away on Chloe’s part, but that was all. Not long after their initial meeting, all three cats were eating their meals together in our tiny kitchen. As usual, Kamara extended his welcoming paws, and he and Chloe became the best of friends. Smudge was tolerant, but good about sharing her space.
At the end of the school year, we got ready for the move back to Canada. Mom and I had previously told my Dad that we would give Chloe to Auntie Helen once we got home, but that notion was far from mind. Chloe Purple was definitely a permanent fixture in our family, and that was quite apparent walking through the airports with all three pet carriers, which graduated in size.
Chloe fit in comfortably in our large house. She never intruded on Smudge’s space, and through her demeanor it always seemed as if she did not feel that she deserved to be given love or a safe environment to live. At home, I felt so fortunate to be reunited with our two budgies, and having three cat siblings under my favourite roof was a dream come true! Having three cats rustling Christmas ribbons was a special memory.
For March break 1997, my family booked a trip to the Bahamas for one week. This time we left all three cats and the two birds in the comfort of their home. We had my school friend, Loren and her mom, come in to feed and play with them twice a day. Although the vacation was fun, I couldn’t wait to see my siblings again. I also anticipated the release of the Aerosmith album, ‘Nine Lives’.
When we arrived home everyone was healthy and happy to greet us at the door. I’m sure a lot of pet owners can identify with that! We were a family again, but just a few days later things would drastically change.
On the morning of Saturday March 15, 1997, our lovely Chloe Purple O’Rourke passed away.
She died under the breakfast table, while next to our Dad’s chair. He heard a great “meow” and then a loud thump. He called for someone to come downstairs. I rushed to Chloe’s side while Mom phoned the vet, and Dad grabbed a blanket. They told me not to touch her, in case it would spook her. I just sat on the floor and watched her breath deeply.
When my parents returned home from the Bridal Trail Veterinary Clinic with her purple collar and special star tag, I knew she was gone. Chloe had died from a brain aneurysm.
In my thirteen year old mind, I had not spent enough time with her. I felt badly for the times I had pushed her away when I didn’t want to be bothered. I still regret it, ten years later.
The day she died, I wrote a small letter to her in our Pet Book:
“My special little Chloe Purple, I miss you so much! I can’t believe you’re gone. I’m sorry for not spending time with you. Now you’re my special baby angel cat. You will always be my cute Maggot. We really love you a lot, and wish you would come back home. I will never stop loving you, and will never forget you.”