The last few days have been very sad for us as we said goodbye to our sweet, almost 18-year-old, Siamese-Mix kitty, Marilyn. We thought we’d create a little tribute post to remember the fun times we had with her and share some of our favorite pictures and memories.
Our Furry Additions
Shortly after Stefan and I fell in love, our fuzzy cat, Princess, literally wandered into our life. Princess was a terror of a kitten and, short of setting her free to another unsuspecting sap, we figured getting her a friend would calm her down a bit.
One afternoon, after a two-hour drive home from our first apartment in Miami to visit Stefan’s parents in Naples, we were “oohing” and “ahhing” at a gaggle of kittens at the Naples Humane Society.
The Humane Society in Naples was way smaller in the year 2000 than it is today, but still there were tons of kittens to chose from. Many of them were siblings, but we weren’t ready to be outnumbered by cats or to split up family. Then finally we spotted her: blue eyes, light grey fuzzy fur, and a dark grey tiger striped tail. We were in love!
Her eyes were the brightest blue we had ever seen on a cat and she was absolutely cuddly and adorable, with just the right amount of tomboy mixed in. We filled out the application papers and hoped we would get approved. Then we could hardly sleep that night, waiting for the mandatory “cooling-off” period to pass until we could take her home with us.
Even though she was only about 12-weeks-old when we got her, the paperwork told us she had already been turned in to the Humane Society twice. And had been named twice before too. First, she was Tabatha, then she was Star…but we didn’t find either of those names fitting. We decided we would call her Marilyn Monroe, for her bright grey-blond hair, blue eyes and beautiful face. Marilyn for short – it was her forever name.
Happy to now have a friend for Princess, we returned to Miami to introduce the two of them. In our minds, we were the greatest kitty-parents EVER! Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. As soon as we introduced these two bundles of fur, they HATED each other. All hell broke loose; hissing, meowing, and posturing ensued. Even though it was pretty amusing seeing these tiny cats pretending they were ferocious beasts, we were still pretty stumped on what to do next.
At first, we thought it would only take a little while and we should just give them space. That didn’t work. Finally, Stefan decided to lock them in the bathroom together to let them duke it out. After about an hour of hissing, there was only quiet. “Success,” we thought! But it turned out they each had just exhausted their little kitty energy reserves and were snoozing in separate corners. As soon as they woke up it was time for round 2 of the battle.
After we had resigned ourselves to the fate that we would just need to let them roam around the house, each living in their own “wing” with minimal interaction, Stefan had one more idea. One day, he found the kittens snoozing away in separate corners of the house. Stefan scooped up Marilyn very carefully, trying not to wake her, and gently placed a sleeping Marilyn next to Princess who was snoring on his office chair. They both didn’t notice and kept sleeping for a few more minutes, snuggling up against each other’s warmth. Princess was the first to wake up and we watched with anticipation as to what would happen. To our surprise, Princess gently started licking Marilyn’s head and went back to sleep. A few minutes later Marilyn woke up and did the same. They were never really friends, but they very much tolerated each other from that point forward.
Unfortunately for Marilyn, Princess couldn’t help but continue torturing her “sister” cat. One of Marilyn’s greatest loves was to peak over balconies and ledges to see what was going on below. Princess loved nothing more than pushing Marilyn over those same ledges.
Marilyn may have lost a few of her lives in those early years. Her biggest drop was from our 5th-floor penthouse apartment in Frankfurt many years ago. Marilyn landed ALL the way at the bottom on the street (luckily without a scratch) and Karma struck Princess. She also fell, but only one floor, landing on the balcony of the neighbor below.
It was always a comfortable truce, but never a love between the two of them. But our mission had been accomplished. Princess calmed down and Marilyn had a happy home.
Ruling the Roost
When they were both 12 years old, Princess was the first of our gaggle of pets to leave us. Due to continuing health problems, we had to say goodbye to Princess in 2012, leaving Marilyn to be the only cat in the house.
She loved being the center of attention and promptly became the Master of the master suite once she was the sole cat. We merely got to sleep there, but this was her space to get away from the dog. Her favorite spot was at the foot of the bed, spending most of her days snoozing. Every night she would curl up with us for some cuddles and then retreat into her favorite corner for the rest of the night.
While it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead, the reality is: She wasn’t always the sweet one. In fact, she was pretty evil. She liked to bite, once sending Stefan to the doctor with green puss oozing from his hand. Mackenzie got her share of bites over the years, too, and a random friend here and there. Maybe all those drops knocked something loose in her head, but every once in a while completely unprovoked she would snap.
The biggest target of Marilyn’s moodieness was Ayla: 140lbs of dog vs 8lbs of cat. The dog was terrified. In fact, whenever she saw Marilyn she would go perfectly still and look the other direction. If I was the cat, I would be mad at Ayla too. That dog stole the cat’s food every chance she got. Sorry Ayla, the kitty buffet is closed now.
As time passed and Marilyn got older she was always a small cat, but very muscular. Still, we could see her slowly aging. She’d occasionally miss the bed, or miss a landing while jumping from her perch. The suddenly in September 2017, from one day to the next, she went completely blind. Not a little blind; completely lights out. The vet diagnosed her with first real signs of kidney failure, high blood pressure (which likely caused the retinas to detach), and a heart murmur. We thought we had lost her, but the vet assured us that she was in otherwise decent health and would adjust fine, as long as we didn’t change her normal environment.
Sorry, Marilyn, that plan wasn’t to be. Just a few days later we had to pack up and evacuate from Hurricane Irma. I can only imagine what a shock to a system it must be to go blind from one day to the next, then get shoved in a carrier for a 15-hour car ride and a week in a strange hotel room. Whoops. Life is tough Kitty, buckle up.
Once back in Naples, Marilyn adjusted really well to being blind in her old surroundings. She was extremely love-starved and actually enjoyed being cuddled for more than a few seconds (for a change). She was getting thinner, but she was still going strong. Sometimes we felt like she could see again when she was walking or sitting in the room, even though we knew she couldn’t.
She took a turn for the worse quickly, and within just a few hours of our last day with her, we knew that this would be it. Our trip to Banfield Pet Hospital was a tough one. We hoped that maybe it was just something simple, but deep down knew she was nearing the end.
The doctor and staff were amazing and caring – and most importantly realistic. Sure, one could drop thousands on medical tests to find out exactly what was wrong and throw many more thousands at extending life for a few more days, weeks or months. But at what price? What quality of life for Marilyn?
At the end, nothing would change the fact that she was a very old cat, who was blind, with high blood pressure, a heart murmur, advanced kidney disease and now most likely a brain lesion. We made the decision to help her across the Rainbow Bridge as we could tell she was ready to go and no longer the same happy cat we’d had for so many years.
It has been a long happy ride together. Marilyn has been there in every one of our adventures from Florida to Germany, briefly to Switzerland, back to Germany and finally back to Florida. We are all devastated, but her “daddy” is probably taking it the hardest. She was always his “baby-kitty” from day one and there have been few days in between that she didn’t snuggle up tightly next to him while he fell asleep at night.
Goodbye Marilyn, we’ll hold you in our hearts forever!1