Like her brother and best friend Jeoffy, Aoki came to us when she was about three weeks old. She was both the bravest and the most fearful beastie I’ve ever laid eyes and love upon; she headed straight for the front door when it opened onto our very busy street but would also scream in fear whenever she had to be put in a cat carrier. She adored her family (especially Jeoffy and Brook, her cat-dad), her catnip banana, and roaring into the water bowl.
She gave tiny, gentle kisses and purrs. She wanted most of all to be near us, ideally all of us at once. She had a look that could almost kill other cats to death, as many a stray who ventured into our home discovered. She was an effective and cruel hunter of mice silly enough to try to hang out in our house. I witnessed her eat her own puke on more than one occasion. She was perfect.
Aoki died January 13, 2022. That night, we noticed she was having breathing difficulties so I took video and sent it to our vet, who arrived at our place shortly afterwards. It quickly became clear that there was no possible way Aoki could survive; we were able to spare her the stress of a trip outside her home. She was trying so hard to breathe, she didn’t even notice our vet walk up to her to give the injection.
We sat next to Aoki and stroked her beautiful fur very softly until she was gone. And then we held her and held her until we were able to let our vet take her away.
She had multiple health issues difficult to manage together but somehow, we juggled them all for a long time. Just over five years ago, she was diagnosed with kidney disease; the prognosis at the time was about two years.
But we did all the things suggested and got it under control. She developed high blood pressure and deafness and she was chubby. And after her beloved Jeoffy died, she took on some of his problems, particularly his bad arthritis.
Like him, she learned quickly how to let us know if she wanted to go up or down the stairs; we built little stairs so she could safely get on and off the bed or sofa. We did everything possible to make her continue to love her life.
Aoki’s sheer bloody-minded will to live showed itself best in how she bounced back from dental surgery last September. This was the second time she needed teeth removed; we took her to a specialist as our vet wanted a board-certified anesthesiologist to supervise and manage all of the above.
She came through with angry aplomb, tougher than ever; the dental veterinarian told me she thought Aoki was going to be just fine, concluding with “she’s a tough old broad.”
Aoki’s arthritis came on fast and hard, but she continued, carefully, to play with her toys and to love the hell out of all of us. Over the days before she died, every time I went to kiss or pet her, I felt compelled to whisper in her ear, “Please don’t leave yet. Please.” After, I’d tell myself I was being paranoid and that she might go on tough and brittle, sore but snuggly for a good long time yet.
Aoki was also known as Toof and Miss Mew, but most of all just as Kitten. As a kitten, she already looked like a little old man or raging old dame, depending on the circumstances.
She just had so much face; if she hadn’t been so anxiety-prone, I think we could have helped her to a career as a character actor. But she would obviously have been best in roles playing a street-smart tough girl with a heart of gold and a gentle touch, fully open and steadfast if you earned her trust.
She was perfect.