We found her in a box, in a garbage heap one day. A scrawny, mewling thing. One tiny handful. Eyes barely opened. Hungry. Someone had obviously left her there to die. We weren’t sure what to do. We already had a dog. And another cat, Muffin. Of course there wouldn’t be space for another. Were we insane?

She stayed the night. And we bottle-fed her warm milk. And determined that she would have to go to the SPCA the very next morning. Because, of course, we were not insane. Only, when morning came, we found her curled up in a ball next to Muffin. The older cat had adopted the noisy little one. Refused to let her go.

So she stayed for good. And we named her Cookie. Muffin’s sidekick.  “Only Muffin understands her,” we said.

If only we knew then how spot-on we were. For she is – and there’s no other way of putting it – a strange creature.  A prickly little thing that refuses to be picked up. Hates cuddles. Will not come up to you for chin rubs. “She’s autistic,” a friend once commented.

Or maybe she’s not really a house cat. Maybe a wildcat. Like the one our friend bought in a market in Bali years ago. She had brought the animal home, only to discover later (after being bitten multiple times) that it was actually a species that belonged in the jungle. Our friend set it free in the end. Probably saved her a few fingers.

You know? Like Stitch in Lilo & Stitch? Maybe she’s an alien?

Yeah. She might as well be

We’ve never been able to figure her out.  Not in 13 years. She’s not so much ours, as she is Muffin’s. They love one another. We’ve seen Cookie forego her food just so Muffin could have more.  And once, when the dog accidentally stepped on Muffles’ tail, Cookie jumped right up, spat, hissed, and tried to slap poor, bewildered Bach.

She is Muffin’s cat.

Which is why it’s all a little bit stressful in our household right now. Cookie’s at the animal hospital.  Liver failure. Hasn’t eaten in six days. Muffles is all angsty and full of questions. Meows non-stop.  Can’t understand what’s going on.  We know 13 isn’t extremely old. But we’re trying to prepare ourselves for the worst. But who’s going to prepare Muffin? 

Do animals grieve too?