I’m sure this will totally shock you, but today’s post is all about Ella.  I know you can’t believe it.

Let me tell you about how I found her.

sleepy time, circa 2009

Eight years ago, my mom was going on vacation and asked me to watch her cat, Jake.  Jake was a sweet cat with a wild streak.  He had been born feral under my mom’s house.  She found homes for all his siblings, but Jake decided he wanted to stick around and let my mom know by crawling through a tiny hole in the back of a closet and camping out under her bathtub for a week.  By the time she caught him, that “damn cat” was hers.  Anyway, Jake was a couple of years old when I agreed to cat-sit.  He loved the outdoors and loved to hunt, so the very first night he stayed with me, I let him out.  Yeah, stupid.  I don’t know if he ran off (looking for his house), or if he chased something and got lost.  Either way, he was gone.

That phone call to my mom was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever made.  She came to town and we made dozens of signs, searched the neighborhood, even camped out at night on streets we’d heard he’d been spotted.  Nothing.  My mom had to go, but I kept looking.*  One of the things I did was check the animal shelter a few times a week.  See where this is going?

*Sidenote: Jake showed up 3 months later!  A woman living half a mile away had been feeding him all that time, but he was so freaked out it took her that long to get close enough to read his tag.  Jake and my mom were happily reunited.  🙂

Well, one day I stopped by on my way to work and did what I did every time I went there.  After looking for Jake, I hung out in the adoption room to play with the cats.  Yeah, totally set myself up.

you get the present, I get the wrapping paper, circa 2010

On this particular day, there was a new cat in the room, Stormy (her shelter name).  I opened her cage, picked her up, and instantly she melted into my arms.  Her purr was deafening, she started drooling (still does this when she’s extra cuddly), and started sucking on a piece of my sleeve.  I was a goner, you guys.  Totally and utterly under her spell.   It didn’t matter that I was completely broke.  It didn’t matter that I had no idea what I would be doing in two weeks or months or years and no idea how I could care for an animal.  All that mattered was that this little gray nugget of sweetness desperately wanted a home and covered me in purrs and love and drool.  She was mine.

Ella the Kitten, circa 2003

That was eight years ago and counting (that girl better live until I’m 100 because she’s not leaving me and I’m going to be very old when I die).  In that time, she has made me so happy

She has health issues and is … high maintenance … she gets organic food and home-made cat trees and ice water in a glass.  I’ve spent thousands in vet bills and cried a river when I left to study abroad.  Eric (who works closer to home than I do) has taken vacation time to leave work and feed her when he wasn’t able to make it home at lunch because of a meeting.

seriously adorable, circa 2008

We watch her when we’re home so she doesn’t obsessively lick herself (due to allergies and OCD) and bring her with us on vacation whenever we can.  I had no idea when I adopted her that she would be sick or need constant attention, that I would turn down nights out or new jeans to pay for her medicine, but she is oh so worth it.  Thank God I ignored the voice of reason that day and brought her home with me.

And, yes, I know that I am obsessed, that a lot of people would think I’m crazy and that my attachment to her is a tad bit unhealthy.  I don’t care.

Day 9: Today I am grateful for my sweet Ella Bella Fitzgerald Chancy.

Your turn!