happy birthday to my bella

Ten years ago, I saw an ad in the paper for free kittens. I was working on my master’s degree at Ohio State and had just had my heart broken by a particularly arrogant jerk. I decided a kitten was just what I needed, so I drove down to a stranger’s house and met my Bella. She was rescued from the gutter by a compassionate woman who already had a house full of animals. Isabelle had two siblings, but I only had eyes for her. I drove home and bought a few supplies. I went back the next night with my laundry basket to pick her up.

We were best friends from the very start. How could you not fall in love with this little ball of floof?

She sat on my lap while I studied for my comps, and curled up next to me every night. She was my best girl.

And then we moved to New York, and Mr. Phish came on the scene. He’s a hugger, and Bella was not a fan. But she tolerated him. And when we brought Genevieve home, she hissed a little bit but soon, they were fast friends.
She was less thrilled when Mooster showed up, because he was a naughty little kitten who just would not leave her alone. I think Bella thought she was going to be an only child, that it would be just me and her forever and ever. But she graciously accepted the changes and made room for the boys and the kitties as they arrived.

She tolerates Mr. Phish and the other kitties, but make no mistake: she is my cat and I am her person. We have been through a lot–a lot of broken hearts, a lot of bad teaching days, a lot of lonely weekends far from home. I trained her to travel and we flew together for years. She just curled up and went to sleep, and the flight attendants oohed and ahhed about what a good cat she was. When we move, she rides shotgun with me in the moving truck as my navigator. She’s lived in three states and seven apartments. She’s a trooper.
I love her green eyes, her amazing toe floof, her gorgeous coloring, her attitude (she’s pure tortie sass). She’s quirky and sweet and loving when she wants to be. She will sleep absolutely anywhere–in the middle of the floor, on the step, half in a box. She loves to be brushed and the bathroom is our special place (for brushing and loves). She talks to me when I’m in the shower and loves to drink from the faucet.

She is the only cat who will reliably use the scratcher (even though she is the only one without claws) and if one of the other cats invades her personal space, she raises a huge ruckus, hissing and spitting like she’s dying. Though she’s getting older, she still has some kitten left in her, and I often hear her romping around at night, howling and carrying around her rat babies. Sometimes, when I look at her, I feel like my heart might explode because I love her so much.
Happy 10th birthday to my darling Isaboogie. You made me into a bona fide crazy cat lady and a proud kitty mama. Thanks for an amazing decade of friendship and early morning brushings. I look forward to the next 10 years.

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