After my first cat, Garfield, died, we adopted a kitten from our next-door neighbor’s cat. I named her Juliette. She only weighed a pound or two and probably should have spent more time with her biological mother before coming to live with me permanently.
No worries. I could fill in! I would crawl around on all-fours carrying this tiny kitten by the nape of her neck in my teeth. I couldn’t provide her milk, but she would suckle on my earlobes. It was a small price to pay for my own cat-child.
If I could have, I would have taken Juliette everywhere with me. My mother made me a 1980s version of a Baby Bjorn for my Cabbage Patch doll. I used it to carry Juliette. I would feed her hind legs through the holes, strap her to my chest, and walk through the neighborhood. I can’t say she was a fan, so we only did this once or twice.
I would sit with Juliette on my lap, just like a child, with her back against me and her paws facing forward. I carried her on my hip, just like a child, with her back paws on either side of my hip and her front paws on either side of my shoulder.
I even tried to teach her how to walk on her hind legs. I would hold her front paws and guide her slowly around the living room. I figured if we did this often enough, she could strengthen her back legs and gain the balance to walk upright like a human. It would be okay if I still had to hold one of her paws.
Not all dreams come true.
I treated Juliette like a human child.
I baptized her. Three times to make sure I would see her in heaven.
My mom made matching dresses for me and my cabbage patch doll. I put them on Juliette. They were too nice for daily wear, so she had a cute pink dress she wore daily for months.
I even blew her nose. I would hold the tissue over her nose while cupping her jaw shut so the only way for air to exit her body was through her nose. Then I would push on her stomach. She must have had impeccable sinuses because there was never anything on the tissues.
When I left for college, I couldn’t take Juliette with me. Believe me, I would have if I could have! She would have been walking around campus in a cute dress holding my hand if I’d had it my way!
Juliette lived out her final days at my parent’s house and died before I could bring her to live with me. She was the best cat a little girl could have.