We met in Charlotte where we lived, me indoors and she in the woods. I left dried food out for her. Several neighbors did, too.
Then our manager called a meeting. "Leaving food outside will draw raccoons, and by law, I can't kill a raccoon. Someone has to adopt the cat." In the long-drawn-out silence, I volunteered.
I drove my little tabby cat to be spayed.
"What's her name?"
Name? My favorite cookie popped to mind: Snickerdoodle.
"Snickerdoodle! What kind of a name is that?" The agent bent over her paper. "It doesn't even fit the space." But she made it fit, and Snickerdoodle became my cat's name.
Back at home, the phone rang. "Pick up your cat. We can't spay her. She's pregnant." Snicker's second pregnancy, neighbors said.
I postponed my move to Nebraska and gave Snicker the floor of my clothes' closet for her birth quarters. She produced four squalling kittens. I found good homes for all, and still hear from Kay Golden about the kitten she took.
Off to Omaha we went. I bought a big house with a walk-in basement. Soon Snicker shifted a brick to open a long hiding space. "Got to fix that." I knew I couldn't pull her out if she chose to hide there.
Then two plumbers drilled with a jackhammer into my floor only a few feet from Snicker's tunnel hiding spot. Was she in it? I couldn't tell. If so, I couldn't get her out, so the men finished their thunderous job.
The drilling traumatized Snicker. I blocked up her entrance, but the damage remained. The instant the doorbell rings, Snicker, fearing a jackhammer, flees. She'll come out for no one, not even my friends.
The rest of Snicker's life unwound quietly. She liked to talk to me. She bumped Paco's leg encouragingly when he ate salmon. She fled outdoors when she got a chance, but came home.
Recently, though, at fifteen years old, her life turned nasty. She looked at me, her left lid closed tight. When it opened, her eyeball was black.
Paco, beloved of Google, said, "Look it up."
"Look what up?"
"Cat. Black eye."
I snorted, until Paco told me my cat had cancer. Melanoma. That explained Snicker's black eye, her sudden weight loss, her inability to defecate or urinate.
I called Dr. Pete, my visiting vet. He led me to his office-van, sat me on a chair, and put Snicker on my lap. He raised a bottle of blue liquid. "A little will put Snicker to sleep so she won't have to feel her organs close down."
Her head flopped down, Dr. Pete administered a second shot, and Snicker died in my lap.
I went back in the house and thought. "You can sit around moping about this or you can…visit the Nebraska Humane Society.
I adopted Ruby, a spayed three-year old female, an orange tabby with white boots. She looks nothing like Snicker. She's not tiny; she's long legged, athletic.
Today I hung a full name on her: Rubyfruit Jungle.