Monthly Archives: May 2015

She Was the Softest Cat in the World

Bella.Header

I recently put down our 19 year old cat. It was terribly hard.  Even though I know it was the right thing to do, I will feel guilty about it forever.

Her name was Bella, but she had many nicknames.  Bella Wella, Pretty Girl, Little Girl, Girlie Girl, Little Punkin, Little Bit of Nothing, Little Miss Sunshine, Sun Bear, and Iddle Biddle Diddle.

She was a medium length hair tortie who had the softest fur in the world.  She had orange stripes hidden on the inside of her front legs, mottled skin on the inside of her ears that reflected the patchwork of fur colors on the outside, tufts of fur that stuck out between the pads of her paws, puffy back leg fur that looked like pantaloons, and a small patch of creamy white on her chest (hence Sun Bear).

I loved to bury my nose in her side and sniff her, because she had a nutty, earthy smell.  Not all cats smell the same.  Julius smells like an old closet.  I don’t like to sniff him so much.

She was always tiny.  At her heaviest she weighed about 8 pounds.  For most of her life she weighed about 5 or 6 pounds.  Towards the end of her life she was 3 to 4 pounds.  I held her over my shoulder and carried her cradled in my arms a lot the last few months of her life.  When she was young I would drape her around my neck like a scarf.

But she was not a cuddly cat.  When I chose her from the litter, I should have been tipped off when she wouldn’t stay in my hand for more than a few seconds.  She would let me hold for a short time, but then would jump away.  She would cuddle in bed at night for 5 or ten minutes, and then jump away.  She was a quirky, freaky little cat, like a lot of torties.

Bella was a bionic jumper.  I found her on top of an open door once.  Perched up there.  Actually, she was kind of stuck.  When we moved into our current house she would jump to the top of an 8 foot tall fence to get into the neighbor’s yard.  I had to fish her out of there a couple of times, thank goodness they were friendly people.

Bella was fiesty.  She lived with big, grey Enzo for 10 years, big, grey Jacque for 2 years, and big, grey and white Julius for 8 years.  Julius weighs 15 pounds.  She was less than a third of his size.  When he started messing with her she would take it for awhile, but if he pushed too hard she would start in on him, and I would come into the room to find him rolled over on his back crying while she dove in to nip him again and again.  When she was very small Enzo used to lick and clean her until she was damp, and then he would start to chew on her.  She learned early not to take any guff from big, grey cats.

She was also stubborn, obtuse and sometimes not terribly bright.  Enzo and Julius were/are my smart cats.  Jacque not so much, evidenced by his running off one night and never making it back.  Bella would jump on the counter, I would take her down, she would jump up, I would take her down.  Rinse and repeat.  When Lisa and Tom were watching her when she was kitten she got her head stuck in a tissue box.  When Mel was watching her she freaked out each and every time she walked past a mirror wall in their house, because she saw the stranger cat in it.  As she got older her stubborn streak became a mile wide.  She got wet food whenever the hell she wanted it, because she would NOT STOP meowing for it.  She never learned the word “No”, which is something smart cats do.  Or maybe she was the really smart cat, and she knew what “No” meant, but just chose to ignore it.

Until the last few years of her life, she had a huge purr.  It was incongruous, coming from such a little body.  Even the tips of her whiskers rumbled when she purred.  But like most things that made Bella Bella, her purr became almost silent.  She, who could leap several times the length of her body straight up into the air, couldn’t jump up onto a chair or climb the stairs.  She became deaf.  She had cataracts and couldn’t see well.  Her right hip was painful and caused her to limp.  She faded.

My eyes are tearing as I write this, because when you live with a pet for 19 years, when you know every little detail about their body and spirit, watching their decline and making the decision to end their life is gut wrenching.  So I tell myself she had a wonderful life, a wonderful family, a wonderful trio of big, grey cats.  We had her cremated, and she is in a little box, on top of a slightly larger box that holds Enzo.  Over the summer we will go to the shelter and look for another little female cat to bring into our home and lives and hearts.  But I miss her.  My little Bella.

The Early Years

Early

The top left is Bella when she was a few weeks old.  She is licking her paw.  She wasn’t the prettiest kitten, she looked more like a scraggly bat.  Enzo would groom her and sleep with her.  He is gnawing on her on the bottom right.  Me with my two besties in the middle.  Bella isn’t the only one who got old!

Fur

A close up of her glorious fur coat, all beautiful earth tones.  She was kind of freaky, especially when she was younger.  You get a sense of that from her wild eyes in the picture on the right.

The Middle Years

Middle

Bella mellowed some with age.  We moved into our current house, and we all enjoyed our expanded indoor and outdoor space.  She loved to sit in pots.  I guess that made her a pot bella cat.

The Later Years

Later

She remained beautiful and healthy, though a lot slower, up until the last year or so.  She went in the yard every day, to sniff the air and sit in the sun.  She slept a lot, and she and I both got creative finding new places for her to nap.

Last Day

Bella on her last morning.  I made a nest for her on the floor downstairs, and during the last week she spent a lot of time curled up in it resting.  Goodbye Miss Bella, you were a good girl.

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Two Days at the California State Science Fair

Science Fair.header

Sam and I headed up to Los Angeles earlier this week to attend the California State Science Fair.  It was held at the California Science Center, in Exposition Park (where the 1984 Olympics were held).  His project was on how seedlings grew in burned vs. unburned areas in Mission Trails Regional Park.  You can check out his science blog for more details, though it is not that up to date (Science Blog!).  This is one of our projects to work on now that the state fair is done!

It was a fun few days.  We were both really impressed with the other projects we saw, and also at how well run the fair was.  Sam is going to continue his project, so hopefully he will get back there next year.  Click on photos to get a better look.

Almost 1,000 students, each with a parent or two.  Plus volunteers and judges.  It was a crowd!

Attending the state fair were almost 1,000 students, each with a parent or two. Plus volunteers and judges. It was a crowd!  On the right is Sam next to his giant poster.

Sam and I were both SO EXCITED when we learned his project would be displayed in the room with the space shuttle Endeavor.  The posters were displayed in rings around the space craft.  We were blown away.

Sam and I were both SO EXCITED when we learned his project would be displayed in the room with the space shuttle Endeavor. The posters were displayed in rings around the space craft. We were blown away.  During the public viewing of the projects Sam hung out by his poster while I sat in my travel chair underneath the Endeavor and read a book.  Coolest place ever to read.  EVER!

More shuttle pics.  The tiles on the bottom had numbers.  The engines were huge.  The shuttle as a whole is beautifully streamlined.  It reminded me more of a sea creature than a bird, like a giant ray.

More shuttle pics. The tiles on the bottom had numbers. The engines were huge. The shuttle as a whole is beautifully streamlined. It reminded me more of a sea creature like a giant ray than a bird.

Sam spent every minute of his break time racing around the science center checking out the exhibits.  Many of them involved motion.  Making waves, lifting a truck on a giant lever, you get the idea.  I think his choices might have had something to do with sitting next to his poster talking for hours.  Nerd alert: He was like a coiled spring, bursting with potential energy just DYING to be converted to kinetic energy.

Sam spent every minute of his break time racing around the science center checking out the exhibits. Many of them involved motion. Making waves, lifting a truck on a giant lever, you get the idea. I think his choices might have had something to do with sitting next to his poster talking for hours. He was like a coiled spring, bursting with potential energy just DYING to be converted to kinetic energy.

Super super cool space exhibits, I mean besides the epically cool Endeavor exhibit.  Gemini and Apollo capsules, a Mars lander, satellites (including Sputnik!) and space probes.

The science center had super super cool space exhibits, in addition to the epically cool Endeavor exhibit. Gemini and Apollo capsules, a Mars lander, satellites (including Sputnik!) and space probes.

The kelp aquarium was a soothing spot to wander about.  Sam liked the small window.  I loved the school fish, they were mezmerizing as they flashed through the water.

The kelp aquarium was a soothing spot to hang out in. Sam liked the small window. I loved the schooling fish; they were mesmerizing as they flashed through the water.

The awards ceremony was in a lovely indoor/outdoor pavilion.  Sam got an honorable mention, which was terrific for his first state science fair.  Maybe next year he will get to go up on stage and get a medal, just like Han and Luke.

The awards ceremony was in a lovely indoor/outdoor pavilion. Sam got an honorable mention, which was terrific for his first State Science Fair. Maybe next year he will get to go up on stage and get a medal, just like Han and Luke.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include Sam’s video of the desert flash flood exhibit.  The flood went through the exhibit every 10 minutes.  We went back to see it 3 times.  It fascinated him.  I got to spend a lot of time watching the desert tortoise sleep, or slowly bang around its enclosure, as I waited for the flood in the other exhibit.  Soothing, but not as soothing as the kelp.  The nice thing about this video, is that you don’t have to wait around, you can just watch it…again and again and again…

Flash Flood Video

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