Friday, September 5, 2014

Amber Sunshine

Don't worry little kitten - it's a herbivore. I hope.
In 1998 Markus and I stopped to camp in a little campsite next to the Rosebud River, in Rosedale, Alberta. When we pulled into our little spot by the riverbank, 3 tiny kittens were scratching and scrabbling around in the dust. They were clearly starved, so we took out a can of tuna, and as I opened it a little black and white one climbed from my foot to my shoulder to get the fish. The three finished it in less than 30 seconds, as I remember. Then we left to visit the Drumheller museum, and when we returned, an RV had pulled up beside us and the kittens were occupied by the RV owners' two children. We went to bed in our little tent, and fell asleep to the sound of the wind picking up.

Eventually we woke again, deep in the night, to a raging pelting rain and thunder storm. We could hear the river raging beside us, and felt briefly awed by experiencing what was clearly a flash flood in Alberta's badlands. Then we heard mewing. Tiny, faint, and frail sounding, and then louder as she pushed her face against the zipper-closing of the tent, the little yellow tabby kitten had come for refuge.

Amber and Markus adored each other.
I got up and let her in. She was like a small wet rag. I towelled her off with my shirt and went back to sleep. When we woke the next morning she was a puff of white and yellow fluff, sprawled on her back between our heads. She has always had the softest fur I've ever felt. I will miss that about her.

Her brothers were gone from the campground, and so was the RV. We hope they went home with those kids. We tried to look for her home, but nobody had heard of kittens being born, and when we turned down one of the driveways she screamed, just before large aggressive dogs came running out at our car. We decided to keep her, and drove her back home to Vancouver with us.

I wanted to name her Alberta Rose; Markus chose Amber Sunshine, instead. Both were fitting.

Amber was so frightened when she saw our older cat, Moonshadow, that she peed on the bed where she was sitting. Moonshadow took great care and patience to move just a few inches closer to Amber every day, until finally Amber welcomed her and began sleeping under Moony's arm. They began sharing a small basket.

Amber was temperamental - she had an eating disorder that cost us thousands of dollars in the first couple of years, and became a ferocious hunter when we moved to Bowen. It cured her eating disorder, but was not always a pleasant habit. She was also fiercely territorial, and expressed frequently her disapproval when things weren't going her way.

Amber meeting our new puppy, Juniper. 2000.

She hated snow and rain, and reminded us so every time the weather changed by peeing on Markus and my clothing (even crawling into our drawers when possible). She peed on the baby laundry after Tali was born. We understood her frustration, but luckily she grew to love him, and she became a loving, tolerant (and very fat) kids' cat.

Baby Tali had no fear about pulling and mouthing her ears, because despite her ferocity, she never hurt him.

After Moonshadow died, a few years ago, Amber gloriously ruled our house, dominating dogs and even us when she felt like it. In recent years she guarded over the children in their beds, and developed a nice routine for spending quality time with each of us, every day.

In her senior years she cared less about making friends with newcomers!

She made a fuss every time we came home from the city, walking around the yard yelling at us in the most unpleasant tone she could muster, until we'd sufficiently snuggled her dismay away. I will miss that about her, too.

Amber died, today. We found out last week that she had a tumour in her face, and it grew very fast. This afternoon we had to let her go. She fell asleep in my arms, before being euthanized by candlelight with gentleness and care by our Bowen vet. We were very grateful for him, today. And very sad to lose our dear friend of 16 years.

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