As we walked slowly by all the cages at the Animal Rescue league she was the one who meowed loudest. Long meows that kept coming, as if to say "Look at me!!! Get me the heck out of here!!" A pretty face and shy but sweet personality. The tag on the cage door noted that she was 3 years old and had been given up because her owner had "too many cats". Who knows what kind of an environment she lived in? I'm sure her situation was quite puzzling to Charlotte: why was I brought here to be caged up and gawked at by strangers?
I knew nothing at all about how to choose a cat. Obviously, you don't want an aggressive one or one that is too timid. In the end we chose her because of the meows. There was something about them that convinced us she was in need of a good home. When she arrived at our house instead of checking out her new digs, she promptly went into the basement and hid up in the rafters. Ok, probably not surprising. Imagine: suddenly you're yanked out of your temporary housing and brought to a totally strange environment. I'd hide too! I figured we'd give her some time to make her way out and then we'd gently introduce ourselves to her. Charlotte had other ideas!
We knew she was eating and drinking, using the litter box, but every time we ventured to the basement to visit her she was tucked up in the rafters and inaccessible to our touch. After a call to the Rescue League for advice we decided to "help" her along, bring her up into the house and close the basement door so she'd be forced to get used to us. Time for some tough love! It worked and she was the most affectionate and sweet cat, very attached to me for some reason. She'd sleep with me, tucked under my arm, a warm and furry companion. She purred at the drop of a hat, a purr that belonged to a much bigger cat- so big we coined the term "mega-purr".
She always had a distinctive meow, loud and insistent. She didn't meow for food, or attention, really. It always seemed as though she had something definite to say to us. One time, after I had been in the hospital for 3 weeks, I called her upon returning home. She came running from the neighbor's yard at the sound of my voice and let out the longest meow I've ever heard to date. W was there as well and we were both amazed at that meow. There was no question she noticed my absence and was welcoming me home.
There are so many funny stories, too many to write down, but they'll always be in my memory. Her second story exit adventures when she was younger, the cryptococcal infection she had when she was 8, requiring us to get the expensive Sporanox from Mexico (a story in itself!), her eye injury treated with serum from her own blood, and her always sweet and affectionate presence. As she has aged and slowed down she has remained the same loving cat. Now, she's barely able to get around. She sleeps most of the time and gets up only to eat, drink or use the litter box. She looks tired. It's time. The vet will come this evening to euthanize her, which breaks my heart, but I know it is the kindest thing to do.
We have been very fortunate to have her for 15 years; she has outlived her younger "brother" Benji and been with us for Wilson's childhood and adolescence. I couldn't have asked for a better companion and will miss her dearly. Rest easy, Charlotte, and I hope to see you on the other side.