? - July 8, 2008

Dad and I got Maiko a couple of days after Sairah died, shortly after we came back from our trip to Japan. We were both so distraught we rushed right out to the cat rescue organization at the first opportunity, and Dad actually picked her out--I was looking for someone more flashy. As it turned out, though, he had impeccable taste.

We simultaneously and separately came up with her name, inspired by our visit to Kyoto, where we learned about the maiko, or apprentice geisha. And it fit her--my refined, demure, acquiescent, slightly shy yet highly sociable little girl.

She was part Siamese, though you could only tell by the tiny kink in her tail and her uncharacteristically loud midnight "talking." She loved sparkly toys: her "sparkler" cat teaser; shiny, crinkly mylar balls; pompoms with bits of glitter in them. She adored being held against my shoulder and slowly "kitty danced" around the room. She was a pretty girly-girl kitty, and she knew it.

She turned out to be great company for Dad. She would sit on his lap during his morning prayers, as well as most of the afternoon while I was away at work. When I was sitting on the couch writing on the laptop, she would squeeze herself as close to me as she could, oozing between me and the keyboard whenever I'd let her. She had the sweetest, most affectionate disposition, and she loved to be with her people.

After Dad passed away, I got another cat, Meera, to keep her company. After a first couple of spats, they got along just like sisters. Aside from occasionally punching each other in the head, they would curl up to sleep together all the time, and Maiko-oneechan would always make sure that her little sister's head was clean. In fact, they were pretty much inseparable.

Her only flaw was a lifelong delicate digestion. When I first got her, she had to be on medication for a while, and for years I had to give her a quarter tablet of Pepcid every day. Fortunately, she was an angel about being pilled--well, at least for me. ("Cheese, Maiko! Do you want your cheese?")


(Look, she liked to sleep face down, just like me.)



In hindsight, she was failing for probably the last year or so of her life. She'd developed a new and disconcerting vomit pattern, but tests at the vet failed to find anything wrong with her, and otherwise she seemed to be fine. Then, a couple of weeks before her death, a chance set of X-rays showed that fluid was building up inside her chest cavity. The best diagnosis they could make was something called idiopathic chylothorax, and the prognosis was poor--only one in four cats improves following the surgery for it. I thought we might have caught it early enough that she'd have a good chance. But during the operation, they found growths on her lungs and spleen, so she was far sicker than we'd thought. She didn't survive the procedure.

My beautiful little girl, I wish so much that I'd given you a better goodbye--not just a quick headbutt and kiss as I left you to stay overnight in the vet's office, alone and afraid. I wish I'd been able to hold you and comfort you at the very end. And I hope you're safe and snuggling with Dad right now.

Save a little kitty dance for me.