In loving memory of our beloved Bandit, April 8, 1990 to June 4, 2007.

Here are just a few memories of Bandit (in 17 years, there are a *lot* of memories).

Bandit was one of the smartest cats I've ever known.

Some examples of how smart she was...

The first example of how smart she was is the first time I met her. She was all of 6 weeks old when I opened my front door one day and she dashed past my legs into my living room. I picked her up and put her back outside next to the food bowl, assuming she was the kitten of one of the feral/stray cats I fed. However, as soon as I put her down she ran back into the house again. At that point I accepted the inevitable and informed DH that we had been adopted by the cutest little long-haired tabby I had ever seen.

She understood an amazing number of words and phrases, such as:

Whenever I said, "Come huggers me, Bandit!" she would walk across my bed and snuggle down next to me so I could hug/hold her like a teddy-bear. The word, "tuna", no matter how softly muttered, sent her tearing across the house into the kitchen even before I started the can opener (it got so that DH and I had to spell the word "tuna" - which worked until she learned how to spell "tuna"!!!). When she was naughty, the phrase, "Go lay down, you're punished!" caused her to drop her head and walk into my bedroom (where she sat right next to the threshold and leaned over to look out at me sadly until I relented). She knew when I said, "Let's play put the sheets on the bed," that it was time to come jump up and kill all the evil bed greeblings.

She knew an amazing number of actions that would cause a reaction, such as:

When she wanted to wake me up, she would touch the "touch lamp" that sat on the night stand next to my bed 3 times very quickly with her nose to turn it on to its brightest setting. Or, if that didn't work fast enough, she would dip her paw into the glass of water I kept beside my bed and then shake it off in front of my face.

Bandit was one of the meanest / fiercest cats I've ever known (her nickname was "Bitch Queen of the Universe").

Some examples of how mean / fierce she was...

When Bandit was only about 8 weeks old, my son walked in the front door followed by his friend, who was followed by his pit bull. Bandit was sitting on the arm of the sofa when she launched herself through the air and landed on the dog's face. She locked her front claws behind his ears and her back claws under his jaw, and proceeded to bite him about the face and head. She looked like the alien in the movie "Alien" who plastered itself onto the astronaut's face. The poor dog stood there yelping and shaking his head back and forth trying to dislodge her. He finally managed to rid himself of her and ran yelping all the way home.

I would warn every vet and vet tech about how violent Bandit could get and would ask them if I could hold her so they wouldn't get hurt (even though she would bite and scratch me, she didn't do it as savagely to me as to anybody else). One vet's office refused to let me hold her and had the vet tech try to hold her down instead. The poor vet tech wound up needing over 50 stitches in his forearm where she raked him with her hind claws.

For the first few years after we moved to Houston, we lived in a second story apartment. We used to let Bandit sit on the balcony until one day when she spotted a very large tom cat in the garden below. She jumped off the balcony onto the back of the tom and then chased him for two blocks until she got tired (she used to be a lot more "fluffy" than she had been recently).

Just about a year after that, we had a couple over to our apartment. I warned the guys to stay away from Bandit, but one of the guys said, "You've got to be kidding - we have 3 large pit bulls at home, we're not afraid of one little cat!" "No," I said, "I'm not kidding - stay away from her, she'll hurt you." Ben and I went into the kitchen together to get drinks when we suddenly heard loud screeching and Bandit's cougar-like yowl (Bandit's trademark, patented July 8, 1990) coming from our living room. When we rushed back in we found that one of the guys had made a kick-like motion towards her with his foot. He was standing on top of the backrest of our sofa, hugging the wall and screaming, "Get her away from me, get her away from me please!"

Bandit was one of the most vengeful cats I've ever known.

She would take revenge every single time I traveled out of the city and left her alone with Ben ("not the mama"). And she knew how to count, too! Once when I left her for three days, she took the opportunity of my coming in the front door with my luggage to dart outside. I found her collar on the bushes in front of our apartment, but no Bandit. I searched all night and the next three nights in vane. Just when I was ready to give up, after the exact amount of time that I had been away, Bandit showed up on our (upstairs) doorstep haughtily waiting to be let back in again. Other times after I'd been away, when she didn't feel like being bothered by disappearing, she would take her revenge by biting me in the middle of the night for as many nights as I had been gone.

Bandit liked her creature comforts.

I like to pile my bed high with pillows - 4 fat, king-sized pillows and 7 small throw pillows. Bandit would climb on top of that huge mound and nap peacefully on the softest spot in the entire house. She would curse me out every night when I made her move off of her throne in order to unmake my bed for sleeping. However, she did forgive me upon our nightly ritual of a complete body massage, brushing with a soft baby's brush, and scritchin's for at least a half an hour before she deigned to settle down to some serious sleeping.

Bandit had the most indomitable spirit of any cat I've ever known.

When she was 15 years old I took her in for a routine teeth cleaning. The vet was using a new "rice" warming sack and the vet tech left the sack in the microwave for far too long. Bandit was burned on over 60% of her body - burned so badly that the skin became gangrenous and started sloughing off her body. I didn't even know it had happened, she hid her pain so well. It wasn't until 10 days later that I saw the open wound on her belly that I knew she had been grievously injured. It took three surgeries to remove the dead skin and close up all the wounds on her belly, back and side. For weeks and weeks she was in the most unimaginable pain any creature could endure, yet she still came to me each night to be petted and brushed. And when she went to the vet to get the last staples taken out, it took two vet techs and me to hold her down, and she still managed to slash and bite two of us (me so badly I had to get antibiotics and a tetanus shot!!!).

In the last year of her life she was blinded by the tumor in her brain that eventually brought the end of her life. Yet she never backed down from the challenge of living life to the fullest. She walked boldly across the floor (and often, just as boldly, walked into walls or furniture) - but was never afraid. When anybody got "in her face", or in her air space (she resented any other creature breathing *her* air), she would hiss and yowl and violently swat the air in front of her (said intruder having wisely backed out of range), and then sit back to lick herself in triumph.

Bandit loved me more than anybody else on this earth loved me.

She loved me totally, unconditionally, and steadfastly. Any time that any part of her body was touching any part of my body she was purring in contentment. She snuggled close to me every night and let me hold her like a teddy bear. She trusted me to always be there for her as she was always there for me. When I was feeling moody and being so bitchy that everyone else avoided me, she came and rubbed herself on me and purred until I was feeling better again. When it seemed like everyone in the world was conspiring to crush my spirit, she licked the tears from my face and let me know that even if everyone else in my life left me alone and in pain she would stay by my side and ease my sorrow.

Bandit will be more sorely missed than any other cat I've ever known.

After 17 years I feel so lost and alone without her that the pain sometimes takes my breath away. I'll forget for whole minutes at a time that she's gone and then something will remind me (everything reminds me!) and the realization of her loss washes over me again with the same force as when the vet whispered, "She's gone now."

Bandit left behind three "sisters", all of whom I love dearly. And there will probably be other cats in my life whom I'll love as well. But there will never be another cat who has that special bond with me that Bandit had. There can never be another cat who could take on the world with her spirit and courage and grace. Her loss has left behind a hole in my heart a thousand times larger than the tiny creature who held my heart in her paws.

Goodbye my darling, my life will never be the same without you.

Pictures:

I like to wear clothes!   |   Sleeping is my favorite thing   |   Portraits of me   |   Mommy likes Photoshop - sheesh!   |   I'm a biker bit*h!   |   Me on my cat motel   |   Chilling round the house   |   More biker shots   |   This is *my* bed!   |   Sleeping is *still* my favorite thing!   |   Bandit's Boo-boo   |   Boo-boo's getting better!   |   Second Burn   |   Second Burn Now   |   Looking a bit better!   |   Put through the wringer - my poor baby!!  |   Bandit's Better - Mommy's Wounded!   |   Bandit's boo-boos now   |   Feeling All Better!   |   Much, MUCH Better!   |   My Second Kittenhood!   |   Fit as a Fiddle Again!   |   Snoozing   |   Me and Sammy   |   Synchronous Napping   |   On Mommy's Lap   |   My Close-ups   |   A Convenient Spot For My Tail!   |   Snoozing on Mommy's Pillow !   |   Last Pictures of My Bandit

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