I used to say that, unlike her late brother Disraeli, Victoria had been appropriately named. Perhaps, though, I should have called her Maggie, because she turned out to be Iron Cat. In 2013, Victoria was diagnosed with cancer, and I was told she wouldn't survive the year. She did. Then, a couple of months later, she went into chronic renal failure, but persisted in remaining alive (despite having to put up with a daily regimen of subcutaneous fluid injections). Finally, if that wasn't enough, she developed inflammatory bowel syndrome, which is exactly what it sounds like, but she managed to handle it for several months thanks to steroid therapy. The vet was amazed. But last week, shortly after reaching her sixteenth birthday, Vicki suddenly stopped eating, and it became clear yesterday that the cancer had expanded into her abdomen.
Of the two cats, Vicki was far more outgoing and assertive; she was the kind of cat who insisted on supervising the contractors whenever work was going on in the house (which she would keep up for hours, I was told), and wanted to socialize with any and all visitors. Not surprisingly, she was extremely chatty, usually trilling, chirping, and grunting instead of meowing. Meows were generally reserved for informing me not that she wanted to be fed, but instead that "I am going downstairs to eat now." (Obviously, it was important to announce the fact.) She very much wanted to hang with her human, whether on my lap (the preferred spot), the back of my office chair, or on the top of my desk; if I neglected to pet her with the appropriate attention, she tapped my arm imperiously. Late in life, she developed the habit of climbing on my stomach while I was sleeping--which led, on more than one occasion, to me petting her while still asleep. She was, in other words, firmly in charge of the place.