Cashew came to live with us in December of 1999. We had lost 3 of our four kitties to old age and illness, and we were afraid if we didn’t get another cat quickly, Cinco (the remaining kitteh) would never allow another cat in the house. So off to the shelter we went, looking for 2 grey kittens. There were 2 grey kittens available, but over to the side, there was a large (15#) torti curled up in a cat bed, her head draped across the edge, her demeanor as if to say, “Face it. You know you want me.” The CatMan and I didn’t say anything to each other at the time, but on the ride home, we both started talking and realized the torti (named Cashew) was supposed to be the one we brought home.
So Cashew came to live with us. She wasn’t that interactive with Cinco or any of our subsequent cats, but she loved her some human companionship. When the CatMan would stretch out after a run, she would try to crawl up on his back. When any workman came to the house, she would escort him to his spot and then stay to watch him work. In her later years, she liked to climb between the CatMan and me in bed and then at some point during the night, she would end up on my pillow, wrapped like a turban around my head. I jokingly referred to her as the CatMan’s girlfriend because when he would go to bed before me, she inevitably tucked herself into the crook of his arm, giving me the side-eye as I tried to ease myself under the covers.
She had a tiny little beeping meow for a cat so large. Her nicknames included Shewie, Shewie Watoosie, Shewie Dewies, the Really Big Shew (using an Ed Sullivan imitation), Miss Shew, and Big Girl. We nicknamed her drooping tummy “Joey Adipose”. She loved to be combed – to the point of drooling with happiness. She was never the instigator of a cat smackdown, she swatted only if the other cat struck first. She would automatically knead her front paws and squint her eyes if I said “Shew” in a certain tone. She was the Queen of the House without a doubt.
Shew was diagnosed with thyroid disease about 1 1/2 years ago. She was a trooper taking her pills and she didn’t complain about having blood drawn. Since December, she had been in gentle downhill slide, with the past two weeks being the worst. We weren’t really sure how old she was when we got her (best guess: about 3), so we estimate she was 17 years old when we finally laid her to rest on Tuesday. The vet who was with us was the same one who had teased us 14 years previously (at Shew’s first visit) that tortis were aloof and then wrote on her chart that she was “obese” (which to anyone but a doctor looked like “overt”.) We all had a gentle laugh again about that, which I thought was a fitting way to celebrate the life of a kitty who had brought us all joy and unconditional love.