The final installment of the story of Simone, or Simmy, Sim-sim, Simkin – whatever you want to call her. (Just don’t call her late for dinner.) If you missed the previous posts, click on Part 1 or Part 2.
Simmy the Travelling Cat was also a Wonder Cat. One day when I came to visit, she greeted me as usual but was clearly not herself. My mother wasn’t, either, but neither was about to tell me what was wrong. Then I noticed that the cat seemed disoriented and was bumping into things. My heart sank when I realized what my mother already knew ̶ that Simone couldn’t see. A trip to the vet told us that Simmy had detached retinas and was completely blind. There was only a small chance of the condition reversing itself, perhaps in a matter of days or weeks. With great sadness, we brought Simmy home, resigned to the fact that our beloved cat would end her days in distress and darkness. Simmy did adapt admirably, navigating through the rooms tolerably well by whisker-feel, and, probably, sound and memory. But our lives – hers and ours – were just not the same.
But, lo! A couple of weeks later – just as the doctor had predicted – Simone was no longer colliding with chair legs or walls, and she seemed so much brighter and happier. Another veterinarian’s visit confirmed that, by some minor miracle, her retinas had spontaneously reattached, and she could see once again!
We enjoyed several more years with Simmy. (Gulliver, by the way, went back to my cousins when they returned from New Zealand; he was always their favourite and Simmy their least. They were delighted when my mother agreed to keep her for good.) But time and illness took its toll on the little Japanese Wonder Cat. She lived bravely with hyperthyroidism for the last years, her already petite frame growing increasingly thinner as the disease progressed. In the end, congestive heart failure, so common in old cats, was what claimed her. On that final, merciful visit to the vet, Simmy was courageous to the last. She ended in a purr, hearing how beautiful she was while accepting oh-so-gentle pit-pats on that bizarre yet beloved rear end.
That was about seven years ago. I still miss the ginger-headed little princess, sometimes expecting her to jump down to greet me when I arrive at the door, and to this day she reminds us of how she once graced our lives. Every once in a while, in my mom’s immaculately-kept home where Her Majesty reigned for so long, I still come across the occasional pure white, silky hair, or a long barbed whisker. It’s as if our lovely Sih-muh-nee, in her inscrutable wisdom, stashed them there on purpose, knowing one day we’d find these heart-wrenching yet beautiful souvenirs.
A huge thanks to my sister, Nancy Barrett of Nature’s Dance Photography, for supplying some of the photos for this series.