Celebrate Pets - Pet Stories - Calico Cat - Chyna

Chyna came into my life one afternoon in June, 1989. My son, Josh, and I were walking by “The Stock Exchange”, a high-end consignment store in our home town, when we saw a basket full of kittens in the window with a sign “Free Kittens”. We had been loosely talking about getting a cat as a companion for our new puppy, Asja, and Josh’s eyes immediately lit up with the prospect of his dream coming true. He led the way into the store and I knew we wouldn't leave empty handed. It was easy to choose from the litter—Chyna was the most beautiful of her siblings—a tiny calico with strong white markings, striking eyes and the sweetest face. We quickly changed her name from “Liz” (after Liz Claiborne), to “Minor” and then to “Chyna”. I can remember Josh saying to me, Mom, she doesn't look like a “Minor”, her face looks like a china doll and so she was called.

In her new home in the woods, Chyna was in her glory. Many afternoons were spent climbing trees and romping through the bushes, leaves and crevices of rocks around our property. She easily made friends with Asja and they shared the basement apartment for many years.

A lap cat Chyna was not. She wanted attention when she wanted it and she’d let you know by butting her head up along your leg or by your head. She shied away from visitors, but always showed up on the end of my bed at night—that is, if she wasn't able to sneak out the front door at sundown. Her favorite time to romp (and hunt), of course, was nighttime and I can recall the many gifts of small rodents she offered when I let her back in the next morning.

Chyna was Josh’s cat, but she became more and more my cat as Josh grew into late adolescence and then adulthood. My attachment to her came as a surprise because I had never had a cat as a child and had never wanted one. I loved to pick her up, snuggle her into my arms and dance her around the room while listening to my favorite music. Each and every time I spread out my yoga mat, she was right under my nose, rolling across and making her presence known.

Chyna had a calm demeanor. She was never one to get into mischief or destroy objects in and around the home. She moved from Boston to California last year and took the plane ride in stride, sleeping for most of the flight. She had an elegance about her that seemed to be more pronounced as she grew older. She walked with one tiny paw in front of the other, boasting her beautiful long hair. My brother-in law- often said that with her beauty and her temperament, she could have been a show cat.

Through the years, Chyna acquired a number of nicknames. My sister, D, called her “Chi-Chi”, and my husband called her “Puddin”. I called her “Cheena” and “Chyno” and even “Coop a Noop”, for some unknown reason. She was a source of constant companionship and comfort through the good times and through some very rough ones, too. A part of the fabric of our family – Chyna was loved by many.

Now that Chyna is in the next stage of her existence, the house feels very different. Many times during the day, I find myself stopping to remember if she needs to be fed, if her water needs replenishing, or if the litter box needs attention. I catch myself still expecting to see her curled up in her little bed each time I come home. At bedtime, I pause before I go upstairs, remembering that she is no longer there for a good night kiss. I now realize just how much a part of my life she really was and the ways she brought joy to the most ordinary of days.

Chyna stayed as long as she could—twenty one years, three months. And as fortunate as I was to have her for so long, there will never be a time when I will not miss my Chyna girl. She is in my heart for always.


Cat: Chyna stayed as long as she could—twenty one years, three months.

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