I got Dobby in 2005, right before my divorce. The next May, I met Mark who had a big dog named Dolly. She would dance with him in the kitchen! I graduated from library school at the end of 2006 and planned to go to Mexico to volunteer for a year, so Mark said he would take Dobby until I returned from Mexico. My stay in Mexico only lasted a few months before I got deathly ill and had to come back. The day after I returned, around Easter in 2007, Mark and I sat with Dolly while she was being euthanized. She had a tumor and he had to have her put down.
Mark thought that Dobby needed a companion, so when he saw a notice on a bulletin board at work that there was a kitten named Kimba that needed a good home, he got her. She was so fat that he thought she was pregnant, but that was just Kimba. She was always hungry and she’d eat Dobby’s food or Tucson’s food as well as her own if they weren’t quick about eating.
Kimba was younger than Dobby, but she would groom him when she wasn’t fighting with him. She would get jealous if we brought any animals newer than her into the family. Once, before Mark and I started Workamping, I thought I’d like to have a little bunny that could run around the house. The rabbit came in a little carrier, and Kimba would get into the carrier when the bunny wasn’t in it. She would chase the bunny all over the house. I finally had to give the rabbit back to its previous owner because Kimba didn’t like it.
Mark and I got married in 2008 and in 2010, Mark started driving long-haul for Swift. He loved driving cross-country, but he didn’t like working for Swift. I wanted to travel too, so we started planning ahead a year in advance that we would become Workampers. While Mark was out driving, I started having garage sales, donating things, giving things to family, throwing things away, digitizing photos and LP records, and generally downsizing for a year until, with the exception of a small storage unit for things we wanted to keep, we were able to fit into an RV that my sister, Sherill, helped us get.
When it came time to move into the RV in 2011, we put Dobby and Kimba in to see what they thought of it. The first thing Kimba did was crawl in under the dashboard amongst all the wires and we had to pull her out tail first like birthing a breached baby. As soon as we started the RV engine, both cats ran back into the bedroom to hide. It was like that every time we moved, but a few days into a trip, Dobby would start coming out and get up on the dashboard to see where we were going. Kimba never did warm up to being on the road.
We got our house in Door County in the early spring of 2017, and during the winter of 2018, we got Tucson as a little puppy that was smaller than the cats. Mark tried to warn the cats to treat Tucson nice because someday she would be bigger than them. “Someday” happened within a few months. One day, I tried to take Kimba out on a leash for a walk because she was so rollie-pollie, but she backed out of the leash and ran away. We were living in an RV park in southern Tucson that first winter in Arizona, and I had no idea where Kimba was hiding. I looked everywhere. Finally, in desperation, I leashed Tucson up and took her out. She put her nose to the ground and started following Kimba’s scent. I let her lead. After wandering all over, she took me under the carport of a manufactured home several streets away. I just happened to look through a board on the homemade front steps and spotted Kimba hunkered toward the very back. It wasn’t easy getting her out. I know she got in there on her own, but she was so fat, it was hard for me to get her through the boards again. When I finally got her home, I started bragging about our 10-week-old puppy that found our runaway cat several streets away from us! I never tried taking Kimba for another walk.
In 2019, Mom came to visit us in Door County briefly and rode back to Oregon with us in our RV. She thought she’d like to have a kitty, and she really liked Kimba, so we let Mom try it out for the couple of months we were in Oregon. Kimba stayed with her, but she drove Mom crazy meowing for food all the time. Kimba put on a lot of weight because Mom fed her to shut her up. Mom decided she didn’t want a cat after all.
Dobby got sick and we ended up having to have him put down in July 2020. We buried him out under the trees behind our house where the former owner had buried a couple of pets. Kimba missed him for a while, but at least at that point, we were able to put her on a diet and slim her down some. She would sometimes try to steal Tucson’s food and Tucson was kind of afraid of her and would let her have it. That’s why it was so alarming when Kimba started leaving some of her own food in the dish and finally stopped eating altogether. When the vet told us she wouldn’t last much longer, I had no idea we only had another two days with her.
After dropping me off at work this morning, Mark took Kimba’s remains to a pet cemetery that does cremations. We can pick her ashes up on Monday and then we plan to take her back to Wisconsin and bury her next to Dobby. Mark said that it seemed awfully quiet around here today without her meowing. Every so often, I think I hear her purring, and then I remember she’s not here anymore. I’m going to miss her curling up in my lap and purring.