In the spring of 2002, at the Helping Paws Animal Shelter, a tabby kitten chose us.
In a roomful of cats and kittens, she approached us purring and rubbed her body against our legs.
The deal was sealed. Our new family member was adopted on the spot.
Our daughter named her Satine after the Nicole Kidman character from the movie “Moulin Rouge.”
But a sweet, feminine kitten she was not.
More scruffy and scrappy, we shortened it to Tino. That suited her personality, an Italian kitty always into mischief and mayhem.
Tino grew up with four generations of our family. My husband’s mother, my mother and aunt, all deceased now, relished her sleeping in their laps and celebrating holidays with us.
She watched our children, Matt and Lena, graduate from high school, college, graduate school, get married and have their own children.
Tino was present at birthdays, slumber parties, cook-outs, remodeling projects, blizzards and two Chicago World Series wins.
Not like skittish cats that hide under a bed when someone enters your home, she greeted everyone with a discerning eye and curiosity. As soon as you sat down, she was on the arm of your chair, behind your head or kneading your lap.
Reading the sports pages with my husband, sprawled upon his chest, was a favorite Sunday morning routine.
She was a huge Blackhawks fan and watched them win three Stanley Cup championships in our basement shrine. Jonathan Toews was her favorite player.
Anytime workmen came to our home, I would have to make sure I found her before they left. Often leaving their van door open on the driveway, she would jump into the back to check out their paint cans, brushes, air filters, tool boxes or lumber.
The chimney sweep was a favorite visitor. He commented on how friendly she was and almost took her home.
If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.
Not Tino. She was always a talker. No need for an alarm, she would meow outside our bedroom door to tell us it was time to rise and shine.
If you called her name, she would come running and acknowledge you in her cat language.
It was uncanny. As soon as I was on a Facetime chat with our grandchildren, she would climb onto my chair, watch the phone screen and engage in the conversation.
Our yard in the woods was her playground. She would climb trees, bat bugs, pounce on chipmunks and mice and leave them at our door.
Except for that dreadful time a chipmunk ran inside while a door was open. It took two days for us to trap and release the poor rodent. Tino just watched it scamper across the living room floor with total nonchalance.
Get that damn thing I commanded. Nope. Not a chance she mewed. I only hunt outdoors.
Tino could always find a sunny spot to take a catnap and dream of birds and ice cream.
We kept a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer for her. From the table I fed her bites of salmon, chicken, cheese, tuna, scrambled eggs and the beef from a Portillo’s Italian beef. She loved licking the bone of a lamb chop. Who doesn’t?
This Christmas she began to shut down.
It was like she knew it would be her last.
Having a tree inside was always intoxicating, like catnip.
She sat or slept under it for days. And drank the water from the stand.
In January she became incontinent.
Then she wouldn’t eat. It became hard for her to stand.
Our vet, Dr. Lori Wyatt at The Animal Doctor, had warned me a year ago that she was frail.
Last July, she advised us to just keep her fed and happy as best we could.
We made the dreaded appointment for January 14th and, even with COVID restrictions, we were able hold her and be with her at the end.
I kissed her head gently and told her I loved her.
She was 114.
Tino lived a long and adventurous life and was a vibrant member of our family for nineteen years.
I hear her voice and see her in every room in our home.
I still expect her to walk on my keypad while I am typing.
When I am cooking dinner I feel her sitting at my feet waiting for a scrap to fall on the floor.
Carrying laundry down the stairs, I imagine her running between my legs. (Now that I didn’t like).
While watching “Bridgerton,” I expect her to nap by my side.
Getting out of the shower, I wait for her to step in, drink the standing water by the drain and leave paw prints all through the house.
I miss her meeting me at the kitchen door when I returned from work, an errand or walk.
I could depend on her.
I could trust her.
She was a great comfort to me when I felt alone or sad.
She lowered my blood pressure.
She was warm and her fur smelled like grass, dirt and sunshine.
We will scatter her ashes in the spring in her backyard playground. Share stories, tell tall tales and eat ice cream.
Rest in peace sweet Teeny Tiny Tino.
You were loved every day of your life.
I am honored you chose us to be your family.
I love you.
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Filed under: Observations