I FIRST PUBLISHED THIS photo on July 29, 2010, the third celebration of Mimi and the “Fantastic Four” with the title “The Other Big Four” to give the girls—and especially Mimi, who had just decided she was special enough to join the Tri-Color Trio despite her color (more on that below)—a little attention with all that was lavished on the kids. I republished it on July 27, 2012 as part of the fifth birthday and celebration. Each year my photos evolve as my household of cats evolves and seeing this brought a change in my own thinking about my household of cats, especially as that turned out to be just two weeks before I lost Kelly: there is no one household of cats to identify as “mine”, change is constant, love is eternal, and the realization that living with a lifetime of cats is a continuum.
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From 2010: My four girls! It’s Peaches, Cookie, Kelly and Mimi.
Usually, it’s just my three seniors, “the Golden Girls”, who eat up on this cabinet because they get special canned food with extra supplements, and the younger ones sidle in and ask if they can have a bite and always get their way. I can make sure the girls get their meals only when the others have a difficult time getting to their food bowls…though not impossible.
But Mimi has decided she is special and joins them, even though she’s only about six—and she’s not a tri-color, but solid black. I tell her she’s well away from the age where she needs the special food but, well, Mimi is special.
I actually have five girls (and four boys), but Mewsette, the fifth girl, is a long way from joining this group.
(N.B.: The fourth boy was Dickie, who I’d fostered for that year, from October 2009 to October 2010.)
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And in 2012…
I took this photo two years ago at this time because “The Fantastic Four” were getting so much attention around their birthday. I wanted to make sure everyone remembered my four girls so I took their photo during dinner.
What a sweet memory, so typical of each of their habits—they always lined up in that order, Peaches, Cookie, Kelly and Mimi, and always stood or sat to eat just as they are. And I remember this evening, having planned this photo and ensuring its success with a bit of dry food to make sure they stayed in place eating long enough to get at least one good shot—it took seven tries to get this. And I remember moving my camera away from my face and standing there holding it, waiting to see if another good shot would come up while they were eating, then simply standing there and enjoying their happiness, and relishing the moment. This moment, these moments, of watching them eat and enjoying their happiness, of remembering each of these cats as individuals and the four of them as a group, this group of cats and this time in my life, stays with me as I’ve focused on recording as much about the moment as I possibly can.
I think, now, of my family of cats as a continuum after many years of thinking of them as individual groups from this time and that time, as if there had been a period of many years when one particular group was with me until another group came along, and many years ago that may have seemed true. But I review the photos and sketches and memories and I see this family and that family, a new group each year as a new member joined us and another one was lost, and then I see the line of time with cats all around it, not in distinct groups but as individuals, overlapping their time here.
And so this photo is a moment in that continuum, a habit that enjoyed a space in time of some months, but less than a year. Cookie had been with us since 1992, and Kelly since 1997. Peaches had joined us in 2005, Mimi in 2007. In 2009 I was only feeding Namir and Peaches on this counter; a few years prior to that it was Stanley and Moses. Namir passed in July 2009 and it was some months before Cookie and Kelly decided they should keep Peaches company during meals. Peaches lived until October 2010. Cookie, Kelly and Mimi shared the cabinet until we lost Cookie in January 2012. Kelly and Mimi share it now.
Enjoy the moments in the moment. Enjoy them again later. The love is always there.
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When Mimi joined the group
Posted September 10, 2012 (photo is from July 2010): Here, the “Golden Girls”, the “Tri-color Trio”, my three most senior kitties, Kelly at 17, Peaches at 20 and Cookie at 18, have their dinner on the cabinet in the middle of the kitchen while Mimi longingly, or slyly, I wasn’t sure, looks on. Apparently, she had a plan.
Mimi was relegated to the floor with her kids so that I could watch the three senior girls eat their dinner and assess their appetite and eating habits as I did daily to ensure they were eating well. Peaches, fighting kidney failure, definitely needed the supervision for her occasional struggles with acid reflux, one of the side effects of the condition. Kelly was timid about the kids and preferred being with her sisters, and I was happy to ensure she ate in peace without being nudged out of her dish by a three-year-old. Cookie didn’t really need the supervision but she kept an eye on Peaches and so she got to eat next to her; besides that, Cookie was my girl and that was reason enough.
Mimi didn’t hear the part about the age category or the fur patterns and decided she was special too and should eat in the place of honor with her sisters instead of on the floor with the kids. Sometimes, she had had enough of those kids. And then there was Dickie who was with us then, and could hoover up anything faster than anyone, and then start charming each of the other cats for what was left in their bowl.
So Mimi began appearing on the cabinet at meal time, waiting for her portion. Mimi never asked for anything, she was always grateful just to be part of the household. It took me a few days to catch on as I tried to convince her they were getting the same food she was, not realizing it wasn’t the food she was after, but the status. I gladly complied.
Mimi is tiny and quiet but she is also persistent, and one day I decided yes, indeed, she was special. Because she is. And when Cookie developed kidney failure the following year, she kept an eye on Cookie the same as Cookie had done for Peaches, and then she also did with Kelly, until just a few weeks ago.
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TODAY WE SEE all those wonderful photos of the Fantastic Four, and sometimes the Five including Mimi, all lined up on the cabinet, sometimes waiting for dinner, sometimes afterward, and sometimes just hanging out with me and each other in the kitchen. They are another in the continuum of cats who’ve shared my life, and I can love them to pieces and still love all the others who came before like a big family or a group of lifelong friends. They come into our lives, and they stay in our hearts.
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