Just a few days ago, my beautiful, fuzzy, diva cat Bella left this earth. The hardest part about it was we don’t even know what told her sweet heart to stop its beat.

Bella was a Kentucky feline who ended up in the animal shelter there. Her pedigree was impressive and, in fact, she was a first one of her kind I had ever seen.

She was a Norwegian forest cat and after doing a little research on the breed, I found she surely fit the bill. She was found wandering the streets alone and terrified and four or five months old.

If I had ever had to buy her, she would have never had been my baby Bella. With papers, it could have set me back an easy thousand dollars.

The shelter called me  and asked if I wanted to see her. I was there the next hour. She greeted me with spits and hisses and every long black hair standing straight up as if to assure me she wanted nothing to do with me. I fell hopelessly in love.

While waiting for papers to be filled out, there in the remotest corner of a cage was a three week tuxedo baby kitten. Barely alive, one eye draining, too many toes on each foot, just waiting to die.

I couldn’t bear it and I said, “I’ll take both of them.” Reaching in to the cage, I wrapped my hand around this poor sick baby and did what Joy Adamson told me to do. I tucked him into my smock pocket.

Our family increased by two that day, and our days became filled with baby bottles, special formula, sunlight, holding and assuring them constantly that they were safe and loved.

So different these two. “P” became emotionally and physically attached to not only Gene and me but to all humans. But Bella never trusted anyone but me. Not even Gene passed the invisible test.

So many times over her life did I wonder why she ran from loud noises, fled from her cat bed if someone came in to visit us. Who could have abused such a precious being. Or was it human abuse? Maybe she was in an accident, a cat fight or even a fight with a predator.

Never in my home was she hit or hurt to exacerbate this massive mistrust. But I always believed I could erase that memory that crippled her. After Gene passed and “P” and Bella and I moved to assisted living, I explained to all the workers about her past. God bless them. Except the one allergic to cats, the rest came to our apartment to love on both of my cats. She learned to trust them; not to the point of letting them hold her, but neither would she leave the room when they tried to pet her.

Bella was too fat. It was no mystery why. She ate her food, “P’s” food, my food and food on the floor. She could be sound asleep in another room and if she heard the very sound of a can being opened, she literally tore her fat little body into the kitchen and began running circles around and around and around me as I transferred her food from the can to her bowl.

Poor little “P,” being the kind soul he always was, would just stand behind her and wait. He would not dare eat before she did, not because he feared her but because that was just who he is.

Both “P” and Bella were fixed. But I always wondered if his touching her as he passed her by made her think, you know, have intimacy with her. Maybe that was behind the fact she hissed, spit, and smacked him every chance she got. There was no real fights, and never any blood, but I did keep my squirt bottle by me to break up any potential problems. I can’t abide violence.

One thing my Bella did that melted my heart was this: When she wanted in my lap, she got up on the arm of my chair, and when she deemed it the perfect time, she simply became limp and rolled right over into my lap.

This placed her upside down. She would get all comfy, wrap her front paws around my arms, and then lay her head far, far, back, making her eyes to look lovingly up at me upside down. It was an endearing moment every time to see her flip her yellow eyes open and closed, open and closed. These were like love fests.

Now we have made sure Bella will live on in people’s hearts. My dear friend Lonnie came to visit me, not knowing Bella was dying. When she was told what was happening in my apartment, Lonnie went outside to begin what she had planned to do in the first place.

It was a love gift to me, one accepted in love by me: she made a beautiful flower garden right out side my bedroom window, and she blessed it with the name, “Bella’s Garden.”

I still think I hear Bella talking to me. When I feed “P” I sometimes forget and fix two bowls of food, and today as the birds all came to our feeder, I could have sworn I heard her at the window making that strange cat noise with her mouth.

But it wasn’t Bella. She is gone. And my heart feels empty without her now.

Thank you, God, for giving me Bella for eleven years. I will never forget her.

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