Princess Leah Belle Marston died on December 14, 2016, 13 days before Carrie Fisher, who played her namesake in Star Wars. She was 18 1/2, which would have made her approximately 74 in human years. She was my first fur baby and constant companion until I had to move to New Jersey without her in April of this year.
I adopted her when she was a two-month-old kitten in East Lansing, MI. I was 19, had just finished my 2nd year of college, and I was impulsive. I didn’t think twice when I said I wanted her out of the litter of black and white squeaking puffballs that needed homes.
Having a cat when you are in college is quite inconvenient, but I took her with me everywhere, even to work when I cared for Sara. Not everyone found her to be as lovable as I did, though. She quickly earned the nickname Shitty Kitty from the guys at the frat house where we lived one summer. She was quick to lash out if she felt threatened or didn’t like the way someone was petting her. She was adventurous, tough, feisty and a survivor.
When it was time to move out of the fraternity to a new apartment she was nowhere to be found and I spent the next month passing out fliers with her picture in the neighborhood. People said they saw her occasionally and some would leave food for her, but no one was able to catch her. Finally, after two whole months of being out on her own, she showed up back at the fraternity house and I got a call that they had her.
She was an excellent hunter and would frequently bring me presents left under my bed. One time she brought me a chipmunk that was still very much alive and I had to chase it out the door with a broom. Another time I found a live mouse in her food dish that she was saving for later.
As she got older she became more of the sweet girl that I knew her to be and she was happy to be in a warm lap or curled up on her window seat watching the birds she used to hunt. She loved to snuggle under the covers and sleep as close to my face as possible. I was devasted when I developed allergies to her (and as it turns out all cats). She had to be kicked out of the bedroom so I could finally sleep without congestion and sinus headaches.
When we moved from San Francisco to New Jersey it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do to leave her behind, knowing that I would probably never see her again. I am incredibly grateful to Catina Chang for taking her in as a foster kitty and giving me constant updates as I searched for her permanent new home.
In July her new home was found with Linda Sturdivant in Point Reyes Station, CA. Linda loved her as much as I did and called her Queen Leah. She gave my girl the comfort and love in her last months that she deserved and I will always be grateful. I truly believed that Leah would live to be 25, but as the vet said she had already lived past her expiration date.
I will always miss her softest, mink-like fur against my cheek and her scratchy kisses on my chin. She was there for me through so many dark times in my life. Linda told me that the memorial candles left on her grave stayed lit through the night even in the rain. I like to think that her strong spirit is still there comforting us.