We bid a tearful and unexpected farewell to our sweet kitty Libby last week. Little Libs was at least 17 years old, although as a rescue, we’ll never really know. Despite her age, she remained incredibly happy into her elder years and brought a smile to every face she met. She was the greatest cat the world will ever know.
Libby came into our lives in our early twenties when we were still living in Cincinnati. Right out of college, I started a job as a service rep for a uniform company in a very rural territory. One of my favorite customers was a veterinarian’s office with a kind and cheerful staff. When I stopped by early one Monday morning, a few of the vet techs asked me excitedly if I wanted to meet a very special kitty with a few special needs. Of course I did!
They brought me back to a private room, and Libby hopped out from under the exam table, happily screeching for attention and staring up at me with her impossibly green eyes. I was immediately smitten and began secretly plotting how I’d get her home. Libby was a stray farm cat that had been adopted a few times before, but was always returned a few days later because she needed lots of extra attention. Digestive issues, severe asthma, and extreme sensitivity to household cleaning products were just the tip of the iceberg with her health problems, but we felt confident that Libby could live her best life in our care. So a few weeks later, without Kim ever meeting Libby in person, I drove out to the country on my day off to bring her home.
When Kim returned from work that day, I brought her into the spare bedroom where Libby was getting adjusted to her new life. As soon as I opened the door, a tail-less grey fluff ball dove quickly under the bed to hide.
‘What the heck was that adorable thing!?!?’ Kim asked. Because she swore it up and down, it couldn’t have been a cat.
It was Libby, and as timing would have it, she was in the midst of a mild asthma attack from too much excitement on her first day in her new home.
Our little chinchilla kitty adjusted quickly to her new surroundings and instantly became a member of the family. With a heavy dose of daily pills, prescription food to help with her digestive issues and – perhaps most importantly! – a lot of love, Libby rebounded. In fact, she was eventually weaned off of all of her medication. We learned how to keep her asthma attacks at bay, and she lived an adorably normal life after a tough first year or two.
To say that Libby was a special cat is as big of an understatement as one can make. First time visitors to our home would be shocked to see our little chinchilla/bunny/cat hybrid casually hop from around the corner screeching gently to announce her arrival. She’d then plop into the nearest lap and firmly rub her head on someone’s hand to demand that she be cuddled. Libby regularly turned cat haters into cat lovers. More than a few people have uttered some variation of ‘I don’t even like cats, but I LOVE Libby.’ Our dear friend Meghan, who is terribly allergic to all things feline, even made sure to wear long sleeves when she visited just so she could hold Libby. She was simply magnetic.
Libby was the only cat we’ve ever known to have a legitimate fan club. When our friends’ boys, Daniel and Alex, would visit our home, the first question out of their mouths would usually be ‘can we please go find Libby?!‘ They often helped take care of her when we traveled, so they knew all of her favorite hiding spots. Libby’s hearing had been on a slow decline for a long time and she was 100% deaf for the last few years of her life. The boys knew this, so they would go so far as to walk with intentionally heavy footsteps so she could feel the vibrations through the floor and not be startled awake. That’s love.
Libby and Lucy were best buddies since the day we returned from the hospital with our tiny human. Libby was patient and gentle as Lucy learned to pet with soft hands. No matter how giddy Lucy got about Libby’s presence, Libby stuck by her side. On the few occasions Lucy grabbed her too tight or didn’t know her own strength, Libby still stayed as close to Lucy as she could possibly be.
While we realize that Lucy isn’t old enough to understand why Libby is gone, we think she is old enough to sense our heartbreak. When she said her final ‘bye-bye’ and kissed Libby on the nose the day we would lose her, we felt like she just knew.
Libby was with us before we moved to Chicago. Before we were married. Before Jack, CC, or Lucy were a part of our lives. She brought us 15 years of joy and cuddles, cold and wet nose kisses, the silliest screech of meow you ever did hear, and we miss her more than words can describe. Farewell, Libs. We all love you.