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the song is "the river"


Pepper is the first of our girls and our oldest tortoiseshell. We got her in the spring of 1986. Our neighbor's daughters brought her over. They said "we thought she was yours, because you have so many cats." Which is funny because we only had three at the time, although Lola was on order.

Pepper was probably three to four months old. She had a little girl's beaded bracelet around her neck. The bracelet was so tight, I couldn't pull it over her head. I had to cut it off.

Pepper turned out to be quite playful. She was the first of our kitties to play fetch. She loved the foam rubber balls and would chase them down the hallway and carry it back. She loved to tell us she was on her way. She never paid attention when I told her not to talk with her mouth full.

She was always good with the newcomers. We call her Mom Pep because she mothers all of the other kitties. She will spend hours grooming them.

For a while, she quit playing. But, as of late, she has been bringing me mousie to throw for her. If I ignore her, she will bat mousie around under my chair. I usually give in and play for a while. She will carry mousie with her if I go out to watch television. She will push the mouse under the couch.

It is nice to see her act kittenish again.

September 1, 2000 Update I found out yesterday during what was supposed to be a routine teeth cleaning, that Pepper may not be with us long. Something is eating away at her jaw, leaving behind some sort of fibroid material where the bone should be. When it progresses too far, we'll be saying goodbye. If this is cancer, there is no treatment for it. For further updates, go to the diary.

The vet just called about a half hour ago. It's cancer. *tears*

November 6, 2000 Pepper is no longer with us. Saturday, her mouth started to bleed. This afternoon at the vet's, we found out it was from the cancer in her mouth. We released her from her disease. Our vet sedates first, because so many cats have fought the final injection in the past and he does this so that it's easier on them. I stroked her, talking softly into her fur until she fell asleep. Then the vet found a vein, shaved her leg and administered the fatal injection. She was gone within seconds. I placed my head on her body, whispering goodbyes as her earthly body breathed it's last breath. Rest in peace, my tough little girl. You fought the good fight and we'll miss you terribly.

I love you, Pepper.

(For more details of Pepper's final week, go to the November 2000 diary.)

Thank you, Laura, for this beautiful poem.


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