Thursday, April 25, 2013

Balloon String

What can I say about my sweet Ellie girl. She was my true first girl.

She was one itty bitty kitten in a litter of five, born in the high temperatures of August. Ellie was a barn kitty. Her feral mother, young and inexperienced, kept her kittens tucked between bales of hay in the barn loft, away from human contact. Little did she know, her poor babies couldn't handle the heat or the fleas. On several occasions I moved the litter away from the tightly stacked bails of hay to a location in the loft where the air could flow, hoping Mama would adjust to the new location. No such luck, she always carried them back. Slowly but surely the kittens were dying, and left hopeless to nature I could merely watch. One by one, three kittens died, and I could no longer sit back and allow nature to run its course. I pleaded with my father to allow me to rescue the last two kittens from imminent death. On our farm cats were meant to stay outside, but I made my case anyway. I begged him to allow me to keep the kittens in my room. I reasoned, it would only be a month and then I would take them with me when I moved out. I left him little choice.

I became the proud new owner of two feral kittens, Ellie and Moo. Not at all appreciative, they wanted nothing to do with me. They lived under my bed, in the very center where my arms could not reach. As they grew, still very fearful of humans, they woud occasionally dart after my feet as I walked past the bed or as I dangled my legs over the edge. That was all the contact they wanted.

As time past, they came to accept me as their own. They grew to love me. One more than the other. There was just something about Ellie I was drawn to. I'm quite positive if she had been a person, we would have been great friends. The kind of friend you can share anything with and know you won't be judged. We would have drank tequila together. But instead, she was a cat. She had this aloof quality I always admired, as opposed to her brother who is and always has been so in your face needy. Ellie was best friends with my childhood dog, a black lab. They spent many hours of life together curled up on the dog bed, cleaning each other. It was the type of friendship cheesy Hollywood movies with talking animals are made of. They followed each other around the apartment and genuinely played together.

I sit here and think about the life Ellie lived, she was dealt a rough hand but you never would have known it. She was tough. She lived through a lot with me. In my current life, those two kittens were here before anything else. Before I was a wife or a mom or a homeowner. They were there before college, before responsibilities, when life was so simple. Together, Ellie and Moo began this journey of adulthood with me. We grew together. They were crazy kittens, destroying my apartment, while I was partying without a care in the world. Their wildness settled down right in line with my own. And now the duo has been split up.

Ellie had a fondness for balloon string and anything in that same family of string. I think fondness is an understatement, addiction is more accurate. She was hooked, she could sense its presence, she could smell it. She ate so much balloon string I was convinced it would be the death of her. Obviously I was wrong. Like most kids, Alice loves balloons. The placement of balloons was a constant concern in our house. The weighted string couldn't be on the coffee table or a side table, oh no, they had to be way up high. More occasions than I can recall we'd awake in the morning to a balloon floating on the ceiling with only a few inches of string attached. One day she discovered Alice's bike streamers and went to town. After that the bike was added to our list of things not to be left in Ellie's reach. This past Saturday we arrived home from brunch, Alice carrying a balloon in honor of my mother's birthday. And that sad moment occurred...I will never have to worry about balloons and their strings again. Ellie is missed dearly by every member of my house. But on the bright side, if there is one, my mom gained one more pet in heaven.


  1. I'm so sorry. We collect the feral kittens from the strays that wander onto my mother-in-law's farm every year and take them to get fixed before finding them new homes. We have two former barn kittens of our own, too. They're half-brothers (their father is this enormous yellow tomcat that showed up several years ago and is IMPOSSIBLE to catch/trap, so we haven't been able to get him fixed). They weren't even litter mates, and they're still extremely close. I can only imagine what your Boo is going through right now.

    It sucks so bad losing a pet, especially one that has been through so much with you. She sounds like a wonderful companion and friend. This is a beautiful tribute.

    1. There's just something about barn cats I'll always love. Thank you for your kind words.