Yesterday evening I said goodbye to a beloved, furry friend: my 19-year-old cat Aviendha. She lived longer than any Corbin cat ever has which is especially impressive considering she was an eight-pound “runt” though I prefer to call her a mini-cat. Avi’s health had been deteriorating over the past few months and last week it went downhill rather quickly.
I picked her up and pet her yesterday morning and she purred as reliably as ever, but I could tell that her tired body couldn’t keep up with her tireless spirit anymore. When the girls and I returned home from my mother’s house yesterday evening, I found her tiny body on the kitchen floor with her spirit free at last. Upon seeing her, I immediately burst into tears. While I knew she was at peace and safe in the care of my father, she’d been my closest furry friend since I was a teenager and I was never ready to let her go.
I still remember the day I picked out Aviendha. My then boyfriend and I were looking for a kitten and an ad in the paper led us to a house on the outskirts of Rochester, NY. I recall stepping inside the house and being stunned by the sheer volume of Star Trek memorabilia in the house. The walls were literally floor to ceiling Star Trek books, movies, and collectibles. I felt as though Scotty had beamed me to another, somewhat disturbing world. I love Star Trek, but I don’t love it THAT much!
The couple that lived there had several cats and they apparently rescued neighborhood strays, which is where their latest batch of kittens had come from. We went upstairs to the room where the kittens were and I remember sitting down on the floor and waiting to see how the kittens responded to me. The first kitten to come over was an adorable little tortoiseshell calico and she immediately started playing with my shoelaces. That was all I needed to tell me she was my kitten and we took her back home to my parent’s house.
Aviendha is an unusual and difficult to spell name for a cat, but I chose it because at the time, I was reading The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan and I loved a feisty female character named Aviendha. I don’t remember much about her now and I stopped reading The Wheel of Time series after Book 4 I believe. Regardless, the name suited her and was shortened to Avi with a nickname of Avigail. When I’d take her to the vet, they’d stumble over trying to pronounce her name, but I never regretted choosing it.
Avi loved to crawl under the covers to stay warm and she was usually purring. Though she loved all humans and spent the last few years sleeping on Jordan’s bed, Avi wasn’t especially fond of other cats. She did bond with my black and white cat Zoey who loved everyone, and most days that pair ran up and down the stairs like crazy animals.
Zoey passed in 2009, leaving Avi and Owl, but those two just never learned to get along. Now only Owl is left and while she seems fine being the only cat (she loves snuggling with my pup Jazzmin), my daughters and I are planning to get a new cat after I return from my upcoming New England trip. Owl is a nice cat, but not much of a snuggler and we want another snuggle kitty to keep our hearts and bodies warm this winter.
With a heavy heart, I dug Avi’s grave this morning when the sun finally came out. I’ve lost many cats over the years but this was the first grave I’ve had to dig for one. Thankfully, the ground hadn’t frozen yet, but it wasn’t exactly soft and I soon hit hard clay, which made digging a challenge. I persevered though and dug a hole large enough to fit the box I tucked Avi in last night. The girls made little tokens to bury with her in the form of a felt heart by Jordan and a little card by Jaycie. I put in a clay cat figure I’d painted to match my cat Seamore, a cat Avi grew up with.
I know Avi’s spirit is free and now her body has returned to the earth, but I will forever miss her sweetness and remember how she was always there for me when I needed a snuggle.