About fifteen years ago, we went to the Anderson County Animal Shelter to adopt cat #2. Gillian needed a friend. We saw two kittens from the same litter; a long haired male and a short haired female. We wanted a girl so that the big boy at home wouldn’t have any issues. So we filled out the paperwork on a beautiful gray, short haired girl. She was to have her surgery and we would come back in a few days to pick her up. When we went back, there had been a mistake. They had fixed the male instead. Oops. We explained the mixup and dropped back to punt. And we were back in another few days to pick up the right little thing that we would call Piper Maru (because I’ve always loved the name Piper and we are huge fans of The X Files). Luckily enough, the big boy loved her too, and at home, they quickly became just “boy” and “girl”.
They were later joined by Finnegan (bitty) and Daisy (moose). These four made the grand adventure with us to France (2002-2004), and two of them would also join us in China (2010), along with the newbie, Bandit.
Since our childhood pet, Mischief, the fussiest cat ever, lived to an amazing 21 years old, I had high hopes for our long lives with the furry ones. They blessed us until it was their time. Our vets, Dr. Tim Loonam at Grace Animal Hospital and Dr. Weinkle at SC Veterinary Specialists, were very good to us. Even when Bitty hissed and Bandit bit and the Boy fought with every muscle he had, they smiled and did their job. They were there when we stood sobbing after Gillian passed so quickly in 2007, and when we succumbed to Finnegan’s fight against cancer in 2008. And they were certainly missed when we had to take a translator and/or a dictionary with Piper 20+ times this spring and summer to Lucidity Animal Hospital in Shenyang. Their staff was so kind, and so patient with my Chinese.
Piper was 14 when we moved to China. We knew that she might not go home with us in 5 years, but that did not make the eventual reality of her age and illnesses any less difficult. She was such a good girl and we loved her very much. She blessed us until it was her time. Days away from her 16th birthday in June, we said goodbye.
I put off this blog post and debated it altogether. As I sit here looking at pictures of all our cats, reminiscing, and sobbing into one tissue after another, I’m rethinking it by the minute. But for us, making a life in China was about having our cats with us. It is a part of our adventure. We couldn’t imagine leaving them behind. Expats make choices all the time when they move; some take their children with them, we took our cats. Thanks to an amazing company called Pet Relocation, we could do that. So, I am writing this post to honor Piper; to honor the furry ones who are still with us (Daisy and Bandit); to honor our family and friends who have stood with us in wonderful and difficult pet times (Ellie, Heather, Ron & Joanne, Kristy, Matthew, Cao, Huang, Kelsey, Beth & Rodney and more); and to honor our vets around the world who have done all they could for our babies, in any language. And I write this as one more example of our lives as expats in China.