Zoe came with three legs, two green eyes, one calm disposition, and the sweetest, most expressive face you could imagine on a cat. I am, perhaps, anthropomorphizing here. She had a ridge of light colored hair above her eyes that looked like eyebrows, making it very easy to project one’s thoughts onto her. But it makes me happy to think her facial expressions were genuine, so I’m going to go with that.

If I recall it correctly, the story goes that Mandy first met Zoe at the shelter when we were there to get a cat for our friend Clayton. Mandy started petting her, and Zoe enjoyed the attention so much that she rolled over into her own water dish. Zoe paid no attention to this, however, and continued to bask in the affection. There was little explanation for what had happened to her leg. She had been a stray and was trapped and brought to the shelter. Either the leg had been injured before she was trapped, or was injured when she was trapped. Either way, the result was that Zoe was short one rear leg when Mandy adopted her. That was in February 2001. We were told that Zoe was about two at the time; more recent examinations pin that age at around four years old.

Zoe lived in four different apartments with us, but no matter where we were, Zoe’s favorite place to be was on the couch in between me and Mandy. She liked to use one of our thighs as a pillow. It made for easy petting opportunities. Sometimes she would get a hold of one of our hands and just start licking. She would get very intense about this; her eyes would dilate and her ears would sort of drift to the side when she got in the zone. If allowed, Zoe would probably keep this up indefinitely. You had to put a stop to it fairly quickly, though. Cats’ tongues are rough, and Zoe’s was on the rougher end of that spectrum. It was like wet sandpaper. When she couldn’t get between us, Zoe would find something uncomfortable, usually the TV remote, and fall asleep on top of it.

Zoe ate. Up until the last year of her life, she would devour any food placed in her dish in a couple of minutes, then look around for more. When we acquired Smogs in 2005, we had to place her food up on a counter where Zoe, whose jumping ability was diminished by her missing leg, could not reach. In the mornings Zoe would let us know it was “food o’clock” by kneading the bed between our heads and purring until we woke up. Zoe had the loudest purr I have ever heard from a cat, and she used it all the time. Between that and her expressive eyes, it was very hard to say no to her.

About a year ago we took Zoe to the vet. She had what appeared to be a lingering kitty cold, and we got some medication for her. The cold cleared up for a while, but returned often. Zoe started slowing down, and losing weight. Significant changes in the weather would sap her energy, and sometimes she wouldn’t eat. Most likely, the culprit was arthritis. She had trouble getting up on the couch sometimes, so we would pick her up and place her in her favorite spots. Zoe was an old lady. Just as sweet, but a lot slower. This winter’s ups and downs took its toll, and we ended up making a little nest for Zoe in the master bathroom. On good days she would come out for a bit, but mostly she was content to stay curled up in her blankets on her kitty bed in the warmest room in the house.

Late Friday night we saw she was having some trouble. She hadn’t eaten since the morning, and hadn’t used her litter box. She either couldn’t or just didn’t want to move anymore. We stayed up with her through the night, and on Saturday morning brought her back to the vet. We perhaps delayed making the call for a bit. She was seventeen years old, and we were pretty certain that if we took her in, we probably would not be bringing her home. It was a decision neither Mandy nor I had ever had to make before. We had seen this day coming for a little while now, and I thought I was prepared for it, but I was not.

Smogs, I think, is confused. She and Zoe were not particularly close, so I don’t know if she misses her, exactly. But she can sense the change in the house, and I don’t think she quite knows what to do about it. Mandy and I are glad she’s here, though.

Zoe was with us for thirteen years. I think they were happy years for her. I know Mandy and I were happy to have her with us. The house is a little smaller now that she’s gone.