The Most Wonderful Cat in the Universe

For the past several years, Zinah has been on kidney meds, and was doing well, but in the last month she had lost a lot of weight, and it was obvious she was in decline. Last Thursday, it was evident that she was ready to go, as she’d stopped eating and was having difficulty moving and was in some pain. She went to the great catnip fields in the sky Thursday morning.


Eighteen years ago in March, I went to the SF SPCA and knew from the moment I saw her that we were meant to be together. She was just a “catolescent” when she came home with me at the age of 8 months, and delighted in chasing her treats from one end of the house to the other. Every evening she would meet me at the door to say hello. She loved to chase her catnip mice, delighted in sunning herself in the studio, and enjoyed meeting all the dancers who came to classes on Francisco Street. All of us got a great laugh when she walked into the studio as we were all practicing one-footed shimmies and holding onto the walls – she saw what we were doing, and obligingly propped her little front paws on the mirror and started wagging her tail in time to the music!

From Francisco, we moved to a flat on Golden Gate, where she shared the house with Precious, a monitor lizard, and Milagro, a red-tailed python. While they all kept a wary distance from one another, it was an interesting household. When that relationship and household fell apart, Zinah’s fur absorbed a fair amount of tears, but she retained her cheerful outlook.

When we lived on Balboa, she spent many happy hours with me in the back garden, pulling weeds, watching birds, and defending her territory from the many other back-yard cats on the block.

Our next spot was the Delores Street apartment; she spent a lot more time indoors, but thrived on the many visitors, including the students who came for teachers’ class. She began to be a more “grown-up” girl, but always reverted to her playful self when the catnip was strewn on the floor, and liked to nap curled up in the papa-san chair, which she considered her special spot.

When I lost that apartment and had to move out of the city, Zinah spent several months living with Noah and his friend Maggie until I was settled again in Petaluma. Living in rural country was a new experience for her – and she wasn’t all that thrilled with the rooster that crowed outside our door every morning! But she did love sneaking around in the tall mint, watching the many hummingbirds, and sunning on the deck.

Our next stop was Fremont, where we shared a house with DW; there were some tough adjustments at that time, not the least of which was my accident. During my convalensence, she was always at my side, from the time I walked in the door after the accident until I was able to return to work some months later. Here she had a warm climate and spent a lot of time in the back yard, but would spend her evenings watching TV with us (but she didn’t horn in on the popcorn – good girl!)

When we moved to Palo Alto, JL was a charming co-tenant and welcomed her to his house; here she perfected her technique of asking to be let out of one door and then going to the other door to mew about being let back in. She began to be more sedentary, but still retained her loving personality.

Our current home, Villa Incognito, was paradise for her; a fenced yard that she could explore at will and be safe (by this time she was old enough not to be jumping 7-ft fences). The window walls let her watch kitty TV – the bird feeder and bird bath in the back yard were a constant parade of finches, doves, robins, and the occasion rowdy bluejay – and she had her “warm spots” for comfort. When I travelled, some of you came to care for her in my absence, and she would always know the day I was expected home.

Over the past year, her decline was more and more evident; she lost weight, from a mature weight of about 12 pounds down to under 5 at her passing. She got infections from her old teeth, and was on antibiotics a number of times. The past three months have really been spent watching her carefully, and petting and loving her a lot. The vet and I agreed that extraordinary measures were not appropriate – I would not do to her what I don’t want done to me – and so when the time came to let her go it was simple, if not easy for me. I brought her body home and buried her in the back yard, with a dwarf rhododendron with purple flowers for her to feed, so that she would continue to bring beauty into the world

Zinah was my “forever” kitty – the one that all other cats would be compared with. She was with me for almost exactly 18 years, and I slept with her longer than any man in my life. Every day I miss her – when I realize I don’t have to fix her meal as soon as I get up or walk into the house, when I don’t have to clean a litter box, and when I turn off the lights to go to sleep, there isn’t a soft warm kitty on my lap to cuddle with.

She will be greatly missed, but more importantly, fondly remembered for all the joy and love and laughter she brought into my life. If you would like to remember her in a tangible way, may I suggest a donation to Maine Coon Adoptions ? Zinah was part MC, and your help may find a new home for another wonderful coon, who will make another person as happy as I was with her.

Thanks for the pets you gave her, and for being my friend.

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4 Comments to “The Most Wonderful Cat in the Universe”

  1. I’m SO sorry – it’s never easy, but you must have given her a wonderful life.

  2. I certainly gave it my best shot, Joy. Thank you.

  3. I have the fortune to know bbaraka very well. She was my dance teacher when I moved out to the Bay Area and we became close friends. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without her. I’m sure Zeina is missing her mommy, her human mommy. The connection between this woman and this cat, was something beautiful to behold.
    I was in the class and saw Zeina put her paws on the mirror and move her tail in perfect time with the beat, while the rest of us ran through our hip work drills (this was a middle eastern dance class)

    Blessings to both Zeina and to Baraka, both of whom are pure love.


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