When a mouse ran across the floor of our new Vancouver apartment we said, we have got to get ourselves a cat.
I went to the local SPCA and found a female tabby with beautiful tiger stripes and big wide eyes who, unlike the other meowing cats, seemed indifferent to being adopted. I thought that was the perfect attitude for a cat so I chose her.
The minute the cat climbed out of the cardboard carrier, she began to explore her new home. She walked straight to the bathroom and inspected the bathtub as if to say, You have one of these?
We quickly learned about all the things their new kitty liked. Direct sun, fresh flowers, plastic bags, and the sound of Bill’s saxophone when he played. We decided to name her after our favorite jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald.
As Ella settled into her new life, she found some favorite places to lay and sleep. She laid on the window sills, on chairs near the windows, on the bed, in an old basket, but her most favorite place was the back of the couch.
When it was cold she enjoyed laying on the kitchen table next to the radiator, or on the Chinese chest by the big radiator. While Mari or Bill worked at their desk, she would snuggle on or around their computers. She was one heat-seeking kitty.
Ella was such a good sleeper, she often snored. When friends were over, they often heard her gentle snore as she lay on the back of the couch. During the night, she sometimes snored as loud as Bill, confusing Mari about which of them to nudge.
Ella really liked to lick things, especially faces. It you put your nose against hers, she would lick it. Every morning when Bill’s alarm went off, Ella climbed on his chest and licked his face. Sometimes he counted hundreds of licks.
She also liked to drink out of people cups
After a few years, we bought a property in the Okanagan Valley, a four and a half hour drive from Vancouver. We began to take Ella with them in the car and found that she was an excellent traveler. She enjoyed stopping at the Hope Chevron, Princeton’s Cowboy Coffed and at the No Frills in Oliver. Once we arrived, she loved to explore the house, the cottage, and the yard and especially the swimming pool. She thought the pool was one big water bowl and liked to drink from it!
One day, we brought home a new male cat and the minute he meowed, Ella sat up and stared. Who. Is. That? The new cat, who we named Dizzy Gillespie, was younger and bigger than Ella and he was jealous of Ella’s dominance of the apartment.
Dizzy wanted to dominate and so he was very mean to Ella. He picked fights with her and attacked her after she visited the litter box. After two years, we gave Dizzy to another couple, and Ella learned to relax again.
Ella was not only pretty but also very good at posing for pictures. Every Christmas and Hannukah Mari took pictures of her to use for holiday greetings. She made a very good model.
Ella always had fragile health, and around the age of 14, she got very sick. The vet said she was dying. We were deeply saddened, and made sure Ella enjoyed her last days. We let her do things she never could before. Like laying on the kitchen counter, sitting in the kitchen sink, drinking milk and eating off our plates.
We fed her as much and as many different foods as she wanted. And when the time approached to put her to sleep, we gave her a thing she’d always craved: chocolate. She eagerly licked chocolate frosting off our fingers and noses, and her wide eyes showed what a revelation it was for her. Ella loved chocolate.