Latte, our dear sweet old bag of bones, passed away today. In 22 years we were only apart for a few months in 2004 for the “great freeze-out disaster” so she really was one of my longest relationships.
Liz and I adopted Latte from the Tippecanoe County Humane Society in 1994 at the same time as Mustapha. We named Latte after the espresso drink for her beautiful brown Tortoise Shell markings.
I don’t recall her being especially small as a kitten, but she never got much larger. She never weighed over 5 pounds and people often thought she was still a kitten.
She never really liked being held, but especially when she was young she loved being petted and would essentially pet herself if you held your hand out at the right height. Our friend Tracy came over to do laundry one time and reported that Latte went back and forth under her outstretched hand for about 40 minutes without stopping.
She liked being up high, and in the octagon house in West Lafayette she’d often oversee the living room from the bannister of the third floor space. Whenever she could find an opportunity to get some height, she’d take it.
She was often quiet and unassuming. She got out of the apartment once and we thought we’d lost her to the world, but two days later she turned out to be just sitting in the basement storage area on a box under the stairs. She wasn’t yowling or complaining—we only found her because one of the neighbors reported finding some cat turds down there and even when we were calling for her, she just sat quietly on the box until we found her.
For most of her life she played second fiddle to the other cats around. Mustapha was such a big character that he took most of the attention during the 14 years they shared. When Erica brought Parker into our family in 2004, Latte and Parker did not get along, but Mustapha seemed to act as a mitigating influence and we would occasionally find all three cats sleeping on three corners of the bed, something rare enough to warrant a photo.
When Mustapha passed away in 2008, Parker ascended in the cat hierarchy and tensions rose between Parker and Latte. To give the spry Latte her own sanctuary from Parker, we set up “Latte Land” atop a sideboard with her food and water and a cat bed. Visitors for rehearsals in the dining room will recall Latte calmly watching from her cat bed.
When Parker passed away almost three years ago, Latte blossomed a bit. She was already 19 years old at that point, a tremendously old age for a cat, and our mission became “keep the old cat comfortable for the few short months we probably have left”. Where she had confined herself to Latte Land for a number of years, she began to follow us around the house and wanted to be where we were. And Erica really worked on her socialization and while she never really became a lapcat, she sit on the couch and sleep in the bed between us, nearly cuddling. She also got pretty good at shouting at us when she wanted food or attention.
As people say is common with cats, she remained spry up until a few weeks ago—clambering up to Latte Land for food and water and to sleep. Once the decline began, it was rapid. I stayed up with her last night trying to keep her comfortable and just enjoying her company and she was euthanized this morning.
She was a stick legs-fur pants, a little lady, our sweet little dummy. She’ll be missed.