Our sweet sunshine kitty, Princess Sashimi McCulloch, reached her last midnight. It was sad to see her soul leave her body, where she struggled so hard to stay these past weeks. I’m glad her suffering is over, but I will miss her so very much. She was the most perfect of all cats, and the beating heart of our household.
She was such an integral part of our daily lives, especially since the pandemic began and I moved in with her family, that it will be hard to get along without her. It won’t be the same after this.
She used to fuss in the evenings, to get everyone together for TV time. It was her favorite time, I believe – when the whole family was in the living room, including Gavin who lives next door, and she would sleep contentedly on the reclining couch at Aileen’s feet while we sat mesmerized by the flashing box. She did not approve of us scattering about with our own agendas, especially if it meant she was alone in the house. The end of lockdown may have been a blow for her.
Sashimi came into Aileen’s life as a Mother’s Day gift from the Universe. Aileen was wanting a cat in her life, since her previous cat had recently died. On Mother’s Day 2010, while she was rehearsing at her theater, there was a thump at the door. Someone left a box there, which contained two kittens. One of them was badly hurt, with a broken hip and, as it turned out, a dead tail.
The vet recommended putting her down, but Aileen refused. With her son Tiernan’s help she nursed the kitten back to health. Her tail fell off, and for her whole life Sashimi had no tail, and a bit of a crooked back which gave her an awkward gait. She had a little bald patch on her lower back too. She was so beautiful and so precious.
She outlived her brother, who died around 2015 from a perforated stomach. Once I moved to Pennsylvania in 2018, and then into Aileen’s house in 2020, Sashimi became much more a part of my everyday life. She would keep Tiernan company while he did his schoolwork, and once Aileen started leaving for work again, Sashimi would rush to greet her at the door every day when she came home.
She had a way of requesting affection where she would go to the floor mat in front of the door and scratch it. If she did that, it meant she wanted to be petted. It was a habit Aileen had trained into her using a scratching post when she was a kitten. She also had this super-adorable thing she did where she would fall to her side to be stroked and petted. We called it “flumphing” when she did it. She would even let you rub her tummy.
At the end of the day she needed everyone upstairs before she would come up too. When I was the only one still up, puttering with last minute chores, she would come downstairs and pace about until I finally went up to the bedroom where I belonged. She would sit at the top of the stairs like a sphinx, guarding us. In the morning, she would be back downstairs to supervise the making of the coffee and request her cream. It was like she ran the household.
She was pure love and I know it was love that kept her with us for as long as she could manage after her cancer diagnosis. Aileen asked her to please stay at least until Mother’s Day, her foundling day. It was a struggle and it was so sad to watch her grow weak as she lost her ability to eat. When she managed a flumph on occasion it was a thrill for the family, a victory for life. She was so brave and so dignified to the end.
On her last day, the Monday after Mother’s Day, she could barely move, but she held out until Aileen came home from tech, and then let Aileen hold her on the couch, her frail body wrapped in a blanket. Aileen set her down in her usual spot and we all dozed with the TV on, keeping vigil. Sashimi had held out until she was in her favorite place, one last time. Shortly after midnight, she let go.
Goodbye, sweet Princess, and until we meet again, I will miss you so very, very much, and the huge service you did to our family, providing its emotional core.