I'm under no delusions that my cat was one of the best cats out there. Ever since I brought her home to my doorstep at eight weeks old, she's been a bit well... psychotic. I'd often wondered over the years if it was worth purchasing some kitty Prozac on the black market to calm her nerves a bit. There was just something off about her from the start.

Perhaps it was the fact that she was an all black cat. Perhaps it was because I named her for the infamous parricide that Lizzy Borden allegedly committed. I expected her to be the sweet version of a kitten who curled up on my lap, slept on my feet at night and played adorably with string when I dangled it in front of her face. Whatever the reason, she just wasn't cuddly and cute like other cats.

Sure she started out sweet enough. I brought her home as a tiny kitten, full of possibilities. I'd come home from work each night and she'd run to the door and jump up and sit on my shoulder, purring like a jet engine. Her favorite activity involved chasing paper wads I'd tear off the Washington Post, ball up and throw for her. When I'd come home from work, I'd find all the paper wads in the house, neatly stacked in a corner of the living room after she'd spent the day organizing.

But soon she developed the personality I'd come to know and despise. The one who'd sidle up to me, purring, and put her head under my hand to be scratched. Then just when I let my guard down and thought all was calm and bright and we were having a moment, she'd randomly attack my hand and bite a hole through my fingernail.

Her fun involved readying herself in the hallway as I brushed my teeth every night, then attacking my bare feet as I'd try to make it from the bathroom to the bedroom without sustaining scratch marks on my ankles. Or noticing that my feet moved slightly under the bedsheet and pouncing on the bump with razor sharp claws. Or finding a box, any box no matter what size, and sitting in it - or more aptly on it. Then hissing and spitting when the owner of the box decided the box would be better used by housing what it was intended to house rather than an overweight, stubborn cat.

The Dormouse came to fear and respect her, giving her a wide berth whenever possible. If she walked through a room and Lizzy was lying in the middle of it, she'd back up against the wall and inch along it, just so there was no chance that the cat could attack her ankles on the way through. Eventually the cat learned she could just hiss at her and elicit a crying jag that began with, "Lizzy hurt my feelings!" and
signaled the world's end. The Caterpillar was on her way to fearing and respecting Lizzy in the same fashion.

It's not like she didn't come by it honestly. I suppose I wasn't all that much a picnic as an owner either. I tortured her with bringing children into the house she was not asked about nor provided approval for. I unreasonably discouraged her from going outside to eat grass and then return to the house to barf it all up on the kitchen floor. I tried to put her on diets when she weighed eighteen pounds. When she snored at night (yes, this cat actually snored) and woke me up, I kicked her off the bed. I tortured her with love and strokes and holding her still on my lap. I did random things like dress her up for Halloween. She was not amused by any of my costume creations and all of her disguises ended up being marked by an emotion: Angry Unicorn, Angry Santa's Elf, Angry Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, etc. I thought it was hilarious. She was unamused.

But there were also moments where we connected too. She was my constant during lonely nights when I first moved to the Washington area and even though she would sometimes attack my forearm without warning like it was an errant mouse trying to sneak into the her territory, she was there... a part of my life that was undeniable. She was there on cold winter nights and breezy summer evenings when I sat on the balcony with her on the lookout for squirrels that might dare to invade our area. She watched the first episodes of Friends with me. She jumped into the toilet late at night when I got up to use the bathroom causing me to bathe a urine soaked feline at two in the morning. She watched me cry while watching news reports of the Oklahoma city bombing, the space shuttle disaster, the twin towers. She outlasted boyfriends, friends, jobs and apartments. She preceeded children and husbands... well, husband. No matter what a pain in the ass she was, she was also my companion through it all.

I feel badly that the blood clot that was finally her undoing happened while we were out of town last week. We got back late Sunday night and when I didn't see her upstairs I simply assumed that she was just angry about having been left alone. In recent years, there'd always been the second cat to keep her company and in the two years since we'd lost him, she'd dealt with being left when we went out of town more and more poorly. The next morning she was listless and unlike her but I waited, foolishly thinking that she just needed to eat something and would perk up. She must have been cold and scared and when I brought her to the vet last night she seemed almost relieved. I didn't want her to be in pain any more and I know I made the right decision for her. There was no treatment. But I'm sorry I wasn't there for her when she'd been there for me on so many occasions. She was a member of my family and she deserved at least that much. I hope she can forgive me for that.