I named her Kashmir. I was in my all-things-Zeppelin phase. Her coat was soft and grey with flecks of red and looked like a sweater, and so the name was cool on several levels. She was a tiny thing, hiding behind her other litter mates when I found her at the Humane Society. She trembled all the way home, but she quickly adjusted to life with mom and me in our tiny apartment.
She was a typical kitten; she loved shoes and sinks and playing with string. She was shy around new people, but once she got to know them she was was very loving. As she grew older, her personality came into its own. She was loyal and protective. She was playful and silly - running through my room at all hours of the night, trampling across me in an effort to get me up and out of bed, knowing full well she was going to get squirted with the water gun I kept at my bedside for these late night romps. She loved the beach - we would often find her sitting on an open window ledge looking down at the beachfront some four stories down - creating a "porch" for herself that our apartment was sadly lacking. She took no crap from anyone, and was as happy to be alone as she was to have company.
When the summer came, my brothers started showing up to hang out on the beach. Kashmir hissed at them - they terrified her - these big noisy monsters who stomped through the apartment with no respect for the quiet ways she had become accustomed to with just mom and me. The boys responded by chasing her around the apartment with the aforementioned watergun - keep in mind "the boys" were in their 20's - old enough to know better. Being squirted by me was fun; being squirted by my brothers was not. From then on, it was the same routine every time. The boys came over, she hissed, and then hid under my bed until they left. The boys called her crazy, mental, a man-hater.
But she didn't hate men. Only the men that treated her badly. She loved my new pretty blonde surfer boyfriend. The moment he came in and sat on the couch she was on him, purring and rubbing. He couldn't understand what my brothers had been saying. He thought she was wonderful.
I wasn't technically allowed to have cats in my building, and eventually my landlord forced me to give her away. I took her back to the Humane Society. I brought food and toys and money. I made them promise to call me if they couldn't keep her for any reason. I cried. They assured me they would find her a good home, she was after all, beautiful.
Many months later I went back with a friend to get her dog a license. I asked if someone could tell me about my cat. They didn't seem interested in telling me anything, but finally they asked what her name was and said they would see what had happened to her. I told them her name was Kashmir. The whole place stopped. Kashmir was your cat?
They led me to a back room. The walls were covered with pictures of the thousands of animals that had come through. By the desk was a group of pictures arranged like a little kitty shrine. They were all of Kashmir. Kashmir with a hat on. Kashmir sleeping on a dog. Kashmir playing with a litter of kittens. It seems that after a rocky start in her new digs, Kashmir had taken over the place. She became the leader of the unwanted, the favorite of the volunteers. She had little interest in the potential new owners that came to visit. She only had eyes for her new brood.
I was so excited! Where is she? Let me see her! Oh no, the story continues. One night just before Christmas, a gorgeous man in a red Porsche pulled into the parking lot. He had just moved into town, he told the swooning volunteers, and he was looking for a kitten. He didn't know anybody, and he didn't want to spend the holidays alone. He was playing with some of the kittens when Kashmir, who was perched atop a file cabinet watching this scene intently, jumped down and landed on his lap. She purred and licked his face. He dropped the kittens and took Kashmir home. Two weeks later he came back and asked for one of Kashmir's friends so she wouldn't be lonely.
I wouldn't have believed any of this had the volunteers not shown me the picture that her Prince Charming had sent in. It was Kashmir and her friend, laying out in the sun on the porch of their brand new luxury beachfront penthouse. She looked completely at home, with no more fears of big scary monsters to treat her badly. As the volunteers at the Humane Society said, she was a true Cinderella story. Kashmir, it seemed, was living happily ever after.
As I write this, I realize I should take a cue from Kashmir; she was a woman who possessed numerous admirable qualities. She always stayed true to herself. She never took any crap. She made the best of every situation. She avoided the men who called her names and treated her badly. She adored and appreciated the ones who treated her well. She recognized when the right one came along and when he did - she took that giant leap of faith - and held on with everything she had. She found the life - and the porch - she had always wanted and lived out her days in luxury and love. She has become my inspiration. And she should be an inspiration to every woman who settles for anything less than everything.