There was a cardboard box sitting in front of a house on my way home from work. Written on the box was the simple message, “Kittens – Free.” I don’t know what made me stop because I already had two cats, but I did. That’s when I met Duchy, back in the fall of 1998. She leapt onto my shoulder the moment she saw me, answering my unspoken question about which kitten I might want to take home.
She was my office kitty, going to work with me every morning. She slept in the visitor chair while I sat at my desk, making my lonely office feel like home. She moved with me from home to home to home over the years, always staying at my side. Once or twice, I had to leave the rest of my cats in the care of relatives while I found a place where I could have them all, but Duchy always stayed with me.
I love all of my fur babies, but there was something special about her. She and I were pals in a way none of my other pets could match. She was thrilled when I started working from home a few years ago. I hadn’t been able to bring her to work in years, so when we converted our spare bedroom to my office, that was where she wanted to be. She’d sit in the window and watch the birds or she’d sleep curled up against my arm as I worked the computer mouse.
She would have liked to have been an only cat and never approved of any of the other kitties who came and went from our home. She wanted all the laps, all the canned food and every bit of the love all to herself. She didn’t mind the dogs, but she never understood why anyone would ever need another cat.
She spent seventeen years with me, which I am told is the equivalent of 85 human years. Two days ago, she went into a sharp decline and yesterday morning, she slipped away. I can’t believe what a gaping hole she has left or how quiet the house feels without her. I have been a lover of cats all my life and I have shared my home with dozens, but none has held quite the spot in my heart that Duchy has and likely always will.
I miss you, Duchy. Save me a spot in heaven, won’t you?