December 3, 2014
I have the sad duty to report that Snickers, the Camper House Queen, died on Monday December 1, 2014. She was about a month shy of 20 years old. She was dearly loved and we miss her terribly.
We found Snickers at the animal shelter, all paws, fur and bones. She started talking to us then and never stopped. I fell in love with her in an instant.
We took her home and at bedtime she developed the habit of crawling onto Holly’s chest for her nightly skritches. Holly was a very good skritcher. We think Snickers had been abandoned and had to fend for herself for a while. So she had some intestinal problems when we got her. Holly’s skritches relaxed Snickers so much that there was often a gas leak. The smell was so bad that, on occasion, we had to abandon the bedroom until the smell dissipated.
As a kitten, her favorite toy was a small foam rainbow ball. We’d throw it from the carpeted living room into the vinyl covered dining room. She’d dig her claws into the carpet to gain traction and give chase. When she hit the vinyl floor and tried to stop, she’d slide into and up the sliding glass door. Sometimes the ball would go under a cabinet with a missing kick plate. She’d go spread-eagled, slide under the cabinet, and crawl out with the ball. Dust bunnies and cobwebs clung to her fur. She could do this for hours.
If we threw two rainbow balls she’d begin her chase, then slide to a stop, looking from one ball to the other and not knowing what to do. We could sense that her little kitty brain had shorted out.
Sometimes we’d distract her while she had her hind leg in the air for grooming. She’d pay attention to us for a while then get startled when she spotted her hind leg in the air. Then she’d remember why it was there and continue with her grooming.
For most of her life we had another cat, Chamois. They tolerated each other but that was about it. Chamois claimed the downstairs, especially the living room and sun room. Snickers claimed the upstairs, especially our bedroom. Like clockwork, she’d appear about 9pm every night and announce that it was bedtime. We told friends this and they didn’t really believe us until they happened to be at our house at 9pm.
Back in 2012 when we began planning this road trip, we didn’t think either cat would still be alive by the time we left in August 2013. Chamois died in October 2012. Little did we know that Snickers had other plans. She was the central character during the first 15 months of our life on the road. She wasn’t called the Camper House Queen for nothing.
On travel days, part of our departure prep was to ready the Queen’s travel throne. We placed a ramp for her to climb so she could get onto a low table set between the seats in the cab. A pillow with a special kitty cover would be within reach. Once we’d been on an interstate or other highway for a few minutes, we’d hear her meow and her head would pop above the table. She’d get herself onto the table while Holly grabbed the pillow throne. Snickers could lay there for hours, especially if the sun happened to be shining onto her throne. As soon as the truck downshifted for an exit, Snickers would head back to her safe spot in the corner at the foot of the bed where she “surfed” the corners until we were settled into camp.
Our coach has twin beds and Snickers quickly realized that sleeping with Holly meant the constant threat of being rudely ejected from the bed when she tossed and turned at night. So Snickers became my “bed buddy.” She had her nightly bedtime routine – by 9pm like a house mother she’d be nagging us that it was bedtime. On our way to bed she made sure we filled her food bowl with kibble. Once I crawled into bed, there was the obligatory 20 minutes of kitty skritching – reading with one hand, skritching with the other. Holly would pay homage with more skritching or a shoulder rub before getting into her own bed. Then Snickers would move to her spot at the foot of the bed, on top of the pet warming pad we tucked under her blanket, or she would curl up next to my stomach. After the light went out and we settled down, she’d make her nightly rounds – down the kitty steps to nibble some kibble, drink some water out of her fountain, and make one final trip to the litter box. Woe to me if I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Negotiations were noisy.
Wake up calls started the moment either Holly or I showed any signs of waking up. Kitty alarms do not have snooze buttons. Holly was usually up first, so she got Snickers her breakfast. After that, it was time for her to roust me out of bed so she could have it all to herself. Just getting out of bed was not enough. The bed had to be made so that the Queen had a smooth, comfy spot to sleep in. In fact, BOTH beds had to be made as one never knew which bed might be blessed with the precious sunbeams.
We often made sandwiches for lunch, especially if we were going out for the day. When we opened the fridge to take out the lunch meat, Snickers’ head would peak around the corner and she’d demand tribute – a piece of deli ham picked apart into kitty-sized bites and maybe some bits of provolone or cheddar.
On days when Holly and I went out hiking or sightseeing, we usually got back late in the day – often after 4:30pm, Snickers’ standard feeding time. Before opening the door one of us would ask, “Who wants to go first?” knowing that the first one through the door would get an earful of Snickers-speak.
We kept human snacks and kitty treats in the cabinet directly across from her spot on my – I mean HER – bed. Whenever Holly or I opened that cabinet and reached for a snack, Snickers would wake up and demand her treat. It was only fair. We were snacking, so should she.
We don’t always realize how much a part of our lives someone is, people or pets, until they are gone. Snickers was definitely that someone. We may have been her minions, but we were happy minions.
Until we meet again dear Snickers,
May the catnip never run out,
The water fountains never stop flowing,
The clouds never block the sunbeams,
The treats never run out,
And the rainbow balls never stop rolling.