You were a tiny grey streak of lightning. It’s almost hard to believe we saw you at all. Your mama cat had brought you to our garage, knowing we feed the locals. Every cat on the block must know about this house. I had to wait patiently, watching under the car, and behind the cupboards, to finally see your bright face. Such a little thing, with unease for these unknowns, frightened of sounds and hasty movement. But you were already full of love. You would jump up to bump your head against the underside of the car (getting a bit greasy in the process), and you would rub all along the wall, and sometimes you would get so caught up in your love that you would accidentally rub against my knee as well.

I brought you fish, and you were an immediate fan. I don’t think you had been brave enough to come and get the kitty biscuits by the front door, and you were just a tiny kitten anyway, they weren’t ideal food for you. We got to know each other, with little pets and a bite or two when you were startled. By the time I could stroke your soft grey fur and have you sit in my lap, I decided you needed to come inside where it was warm, and there would always be fish for dinner. I placed your next meal inside the cat carrier, and you trotted inside without a second thought!

You didn’t like the bathroom and scared yourself more by trying to climb the shower curtain than anything else. We picked you up and made you lay in my lap, where you purred and purred. In that moment, you decided that inside was okay, because there was fish, and there were lots of soft pettings and your new favourite: chin rubs.

You grew into such a big boy, getting longer and longer. All the proportions of a lanky teenage lion. You would run and chase and always talk to me. You became known as our fancy cat, because you pranced around and liked to jump and twirl, and carry toys in your mouth. Regular cat toys seemed too small for you, and I brought home the big fuzzy orange Rat-Rat, which you loved immediately. There was a toy you could really rough-up, and you could still carry it around as you pleased. You were cheeky, scratching on the carpet right beside your scratch post and stealing socks.

It was always time for love, and you were glad to be picked up and cuddled. You also gave hugs by standing on your back legs and stretching up, pressing all your body against me. You followed me around the house and ran to the door to see the birds and chittered at them with your long whiskers flickering. You laid on the topmost platform on the cat tower, but you preferred to sleep somewhere near me. Shiny things on the floor made you nervous, and you had to bat at them to ensure they were no threat. You knew my tone of voice when I was calling you to chase a bug.

I don’t know what happened to take you away at only two years old, far too young for any cat to die. I just know that you were my kitten, and I miss you. I love you, Chichiri. I know you’re being fancy somewhere, my beautiful boy.