This is Coco.
She always slept on my right side—never (except for a very few instances towards the end of her life) on my left. ❦ Her full name was Corazón. She went by Cory for a while, but it didn’t take. Her mother was a farm cat owned by a former go-go dancer called Jackie. ❦ Coco disliked most other cats. She may have hastened the demise of our kitten, perhaps by means of the evil eye. She scratched and bit at a whim. For years we warned people entering the apartment, “Watch out for Coco, she’s mean.” ❦ When she was a kitten she would creep up the bed at night, lodge her nose under my earlobe and stick her claws in my neck. There was no way to discourage her from doing this. Sometimes I got up and shut her in the bathroom, telling myself I’d let her out in a few minutes. Eight hours later there she was, looking up at me with nonreproachful eyes. ❦ She was fiendishly fond of catnip and drawn to peppermint and other herbal teas. She sometimes kept a teabag as a toy. ❦ Her disposition was never placid. At about two years of age, she suffered what the vet called a Fever of Unknown Origin and had to spend the night at an animal hospital. When I came to collect her the next day, I was handed a log sheet with the notation “Cat did well overnight. Unable to retake temperature (fractious).” Many years later I was waiting for her x-ray results at Angell Memorial. The vet came in, sat down next to me and said, “It’s going to be a little longer. Coco bit the radiologist.” ❦ She had a striped tail (it faded as she grew older) and sergeant’s stripes on her back—triple chevrons on the upper spine. She liked to climb and was accustomed, at different times, to ascend to the tops of refrigerators, shower doors and high bookshelves. ❦ Coco stoically endured many interesting ailments. She passed several years in sneezing fits, was known to have nosebleeds, and was a prolific producer of hairballs and foamy liquid. Her weight topped out at 10.9 pounds when she was around five. She could not stand having her blood drawn. ❦ Every day when I came home, Coco dashed out into the hall and clawed the carpet. The carpet never showed any signs of wear. ❦ I think it will be hard at first without my little sprite. She has always been at my heels. I acquired her when I was very lonely and lavished her with love, and she responded with a proper measure of prim but deep and unshakeable devotion. ❦ In her last day of life, she frequently lay across the threshhold to my bedroom, as if expressing her readiness to cross. Bon voyage, Coco, mi milagrita.