Betsy was the last of our 'Austin' cats that included Tucker. She was born in Austin to a lovely black mama cat called BC. The woman who owned BC was the same woman who rescued Tucker from his abusive family and lived with her until that home became too crowded with other rescued cats. She followed her mom to our place where food was daily and plentiful and few other cats were around. Even though they were mostly outside cats, they were loved and cared for at their home away from home.
Betsy decided to live with us and ultimately was loaded up and moved to where we now live. She acclimated to the moves with grace and gratitude never letting the newer adopted felines forget she was the matriarch of the household (feline of course).
My fondest memory of Betsy in her heyday was that she never turned her back on an opportunity to chase a dog--any dog, any size. She chased terriers and huge labs. I don't think she hated dogs (she lived with several over the last 10 years) but truly enjoyed the chase (and possibly the resulting yelps of fear!). The memory of her 7 pound self walking back from the chase, black tail erect and full, faint smile on her face, will always be a cherished memory.
This spring Betsy made a true friend in the resident mockingbird. Every time she would go out, he would be there to welcome her into his yard. She would slowly make her way to the garden bench and he would escort her there every step of the way. As she would lay on the bench, he would serenade her with squawks and hisses often times landing mere inches away from her to bring home his point of allowing her refuge in his yard.
One afternoon, Forrest had the luck of being able to photograph their afternoon together. Betsy was taking an impromptu bath near a garden and the mockingbird was helping her in the only way he knew how by pouncing her repeatedly and often. The wondrous thing is, Betsy never flinched or wavered from her bath. The photo above is from one such pounce and mockingbird flying away and Betsy looking just a bit annoyed.
Betsy had a tumor on her thyroid that was detected by our vet a little over 3 years ago. That explained the rapid weight loss and lethargy (more than normal) that we had noticed. Daily medications suppressed her overactive thyroid and she rebounded within a week to her geriatric ways. Her prognosis was wasn't positive--the medication was hard on her kidneys and liver and even with surgery there was no guarantee of a long survival.
Three years later and after more medications to slow her accelerated heartbeat, Betsy was finally ready to depart. She came to me early one morning and gave me the earnest, tired stare that I knew to be the signal of her desire. She was tired of being sick and tired of being tired.
That afternoon, I took her to our wonderful vet. She never fought the trip, never once meowed, just wanted me to hold her paw, which I did with great sadness. She waved her paw as the medicines that made her sleep entered her body and was released from all of her suffering.
I brought her home and a small funeral service was conducted at the treeline underneath the cedars, hack berries, oaks, and native grapes and beside Heather and Emily, the past felines of the family. We used to walk this area years ago when there were fewer dogs and no back yard fence. Betsy would stalk the scents in the leaves and dirt, chatter at the birds in the trees, and lounge beside me when I would sit. She would chase after Emily through the under brances of the cedars. She was laid to rest in deep soil with desert sage and a washingtonian palm frond, facing eastward towards the rising sun.
Betsy is sorely missed, especially during the evening time when her presence on the arm of the couch beside where I sat is felt but not seen. Her purrs echo in my memory for they were louder than any cat I've known. We love you Betsy.