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Monday, April 24, 2006

Bailey, 1994(?)-- April 24, 2006.

I never wanted the damn cat in the first place.

"You just have to watch her for a couple of weeks, until my friend gets settled in." Heather remembers the conversation differently.

Our memories do agree as to the reaction of Molly (my cat, and still with us): she spent the first two days of Bailey's "visit" under my bed, hissing at the world.

That was March 1998. Bailey was a Himalayan. Purebred. But she wasn't a "show" quality cat because her eyes were blue, not yellow (has to match the fur color, or some such nonsense). She'd gone through at least one previous owner before Heather's friend, and probably two. Hence the guess as to her age. Her repeated stints in pounds showed in her early personality, and Heather noted she seemed to have a foster child's standoffishness. That was about right--until after I brought Bailey back from the vet's in the fall of 1999 after her bout with a urinary tract infection. She spent a half hour in the foyer of the apartment, warily looking around. She literally refused to move. Then it sank in that she wasn't being given away again and she became positively gregarious. When we moved to Casa del Price in 2001, she had no adjustment problem whatsoever. We barely had the couch against the wall before Bailey fell asleep on it, secure in her place.

A veritable dander factory was our Bailey. After 8 years, I suspect I have angora lungs. But, as it turned out, overloaded vacuum bags were a minor inconvenience.

That, and the hell with cat shows: Bailey turned out to be an ideal pet. She never so much as hissed at the kids, who found her irresistible. Especially The Boy™ and Rachel, who enjoyed carrying her around in a headlock or stranglehold. Good-natured to a fault, her swat fights with Molly were beyond hilarious. I remember one time when Molly walked up, out of the blue, and just cuffed her three times, right between the eyes. Sounded like someone testing a cantaloupe for ripeness.

Bailey blinked for a couple of seconds, shook her head, and the chase was on. For all their tiffs, the cats never hurt each other.

She started going downhill two weeks ago, increasingly disoriented and sluggish. Now she's gone--total kidney shutdown, tumor-related. Had to put her down. But not before we held her in the brilliant late afternoon sunshine out on the lawn, before carrying her into the sterile room where an overdose of anesthesia ended her life.

It's going to be a lot quieter around here.

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