I immediately set to work trying to convince Matt that our household would be better place with this ragamuffin in it. My friend and I tried to figure out the stray cat's situation (male, female, fixed...) but the cat wasn't very co-operative and so we just guessed that it was a girl. I named the cat, Stella, after all, it was easier to convince Matt to take in another cat when it had a name.
And then Stella went missing. Stella is a striking cat with smokey fur and, sadly, at that time, bloody ears, and I knew someone must have some information. You don't forget a face like that...
I went to the local animal control with my Mama and she checked all the cages to see if Stella had been picked up. No luck. I started knocking on neighbourhood doors and talking to neighbourhood children in the least creepy way possible. Finally I caught a break and ended up on the porch of a lady who told me she had noticed a feral cat and called animal control to pick it up. In the midst of getting some information from this lady, she started some verbal warfare with the father of a child fighting with her child in the park across the street. It was an awkward moment, we paused to let the adults exchange heated swear words in front of their children. I don't know the exact details of the story, and the source of the story was definitely a little flakey but apparently, Stella wasn't pleased at being picked up by Animal Control and somebody got scratched. This landed Stella in a 10 day quarantine. This is why my Mama didn't see him when we went to Animal Control earlier. On day 8 of the 10 day confinement, I confirmed Stella's whereabouts and committed to taking him home in two days. Let's be honest, most cats in Animal Control don't make it over to the SPCA to have a chance at a forever home, and I knew Stella needed to be saved.
When I came back to Animal Control two days later, they brought Stella to the front and said to me 'here he is!'. He? This was news. Turns out my Stella was a neutered boy.
And that's the story of how the boy cat named Stella found his way into our home and into our hearts.
He was everybody's cat. We gave Bec my last name because she is definitely my little bitchy girl. Kyle has Matt's last name because Matt and Kyle are snuggle lovers. But Stella had a hyphenated last name. He belong to both Matt and I, but he mostly belonged to everybody. He was gentle with kids and always the first to greet and hang out anyone who came over.
Stella was almost unflappable. New surroundings, new people, new cats or even dogs didn't give him anxiety in the least. He just did not care. Any place you put him immediately became his place and he would set about exploring it accordingly. You could yell at him (because sometimes he was a test of one's patience) and he would look at you with his wise, yellow eyes and then wait for you to run out of steam before he would come over to give you a head butt.
When I used to make wedding dresses, he was convinced that the bra inserts were cat toys and unless I hid them, I would find them all over the house. He would sit with me for hours as I sewed and then look me in the eye with love while simultaneously swatting an entire container of pins on the floor.
The street cat within Stella often reared its head. We reluctantly gave in and let him go outside in our old place. One time he disappeared for a weekend and after posting pictures everywhere, we got a tip that he was across a 5 lane road in the area. He got grounded after that. But this summer, I cracked under pressure and we started to let him out in the back yard of our new place. I much prefer to have my cats be indoor cats, I constantly worry about other animals, cars, diseases but I'm glad we let Stella outside this summer. He was very good about staying near the house this time and I will always remember him sitting with us for dinner on the patio. He would sometimes go and hang out with people at the bus stop nearby. I hated him being close to the road but he would go, make some new friends and then lay in his signature, legs crossed, chest out pose and wait with them for the bus. We always joked that one day he was going to hop on the bus and go for a little adventure downtown himself.
(Snuggly and sick at the vet, 2 days before he died.)
I can see the silver lining in Stella's last few days. Though he got weaker and slept a lot, from what we could see, he was never in any pain. Even as I followed him around with treats, he would reject the treats, start to purr and roll over to request a chest rub instead. He purred even as my friend put him in the carrier on his last trip to the vet. I'm also thankful that my amazing friend, an experienced vet tech, was there when he went into cardiac arrest. I know it was not pleasant for her and I feel selfish saying it but I think I would have fallen apart if I had been there. Most of all, I am thankful we gave Stella another 4 and a half years of life. A life he lived to the fullest, even though he never did end up taking that bus ride downtown...
All that doesn't stop my heart from breaking a little every time some pure white fluff still rolls by on the floor. I'm going to miss the sweet cause of that constant tumble weed so much...