I first met Camy in May 2019. Two and a half months after I opened Club Cat Irvine’s doors. Camy’s parents, Dave and Tonya, found us after reading a post on the NextDoor app recommending Club Cat. They booked for Camy to stay with us in late May in one of our Window suites, Purrsuasion. (Yes, our twenty suites are cat-punned after the classics.)
Camy stayed with us fifteen more times and the majority of those visits were in Purrsuasion. Oh how she loved to gaze outside!
Camy is one of those cats who draws you in from the moment you meet her. She had one of those adorable faces that reminds you of your grandma. The kind of grandma who makes you feel like you are the only person in the world that matters. Who makes you a fresh baked pie and hot cocoa when you come visit her.
And don’t even get me started on her smoky meow. Think Eva Greene, if she could meow instead of talk.
Camy crossed Rainbrow Bridge in July at age 18. Dave had sent us a beautiful card to let us know. I knew the moment I looked at the envelope that it was not good news. Despite my fears, I opened the card immediately because I am impulsive that way. I stood there at the mailbox and just cried and cried. (The tenants in our business complex already know I’m the crazy cat lady, what’s a little more crazy going to hurt?).
We’ve learned about the loss of several beloved kitty customers in the last few years. With every death brings sadness for me and my team. After all, we’re in the business of taking care of cats as if they are our very own. It’s part of the job description.
But Camy’s passing struck a deeper chord in me.
It’s not just because she has been a cutomer for so long. It is true that she was our very first kitty cat who we hosted regularly from almost the beginning – over four years, multiple times per year. A kitty I always looked forward to hosting. And who I just assumed would always be a Club Cat guest even though I knew deep down that that wasn’t truly possible. It’s also because on some level Camy is part of Club Cat’s foundation. And as we embark on expanding Club Cat to other locations through franchising, I find myself looking back at the early days more and more. Like a mother looks back on her adult child’s early years wishing to return to a maiden time that can never be recaptured. Only remembered. And cherished.
Dave and Tonya have graciously shared part of Camy’s story with us. I hope you get a glimpse into what a truly memorable kitty she was.
Shana: How did Camy come into your lives?
Dave: We got Camy from the Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City, our old home. It is a clinic and no-kill facility that takes care of cats until they can find a home. I can’t remember how we learned of Nine Lives, but they seemed like a nice place to start. The four of us, Tonya, Justin, Monica and I stopped by for a possible adoption opportunity. The staff led us into a closed area where they could bring us various cats to check out; the cats had to like us, too!
After a while, we met up with Camy and her cagemate (but not brother), Ricky. It became clear that these were the two for us. We really were expecting to get one cat, but the two could not be separated. Both were found as strays; Camy was with other cats under a staircase in the fancy town of Atherton. They were still kittens, probably 6-8 months old, but ready for us to take. Monica was able to hold Camy, probably the only time this could be done. Camy was otherwise never interested in being held. Neither were lap cats.
That was a done deal! We took our new kittens, together in the carrier, and off we went. We even debuted them at the automobile repair shop, because we had to pick up one car there on the way home. Camy and Ricky had a chance to meet our mechanic!
At home, Camy was scared at first, being part feral. This was around Christmas time, as our tree was set up with the decorations. We weren’t even sure where Camy was hiding at times, but we found her on a dining room table chair. She was just getting acclimated to our house. After one accident under the Christmas tree, we had the sandbox set in the dining room, which she quickly found and used, and no more accidents. Ricky was braver and more adventurous. He settled in quickly, and we later realized he was an alpha male. He would prowl the neighborhood, making friends (and enemies with neighbor dogs!).
Ricky and Camy were good friends, often sleeping together and washing each other. Camy became the surrogate mother of the two, keeping watch over everything. Once in a while, Ricky would get naughty and tease her, but she was able to stand up for herself. We had a lot of fun with our two pals.
Ricky’s boldness led him to run across the street, which we didn’t approve of, but he wasn’t going to be stopped.
I’m afraid he met his demise that way. We were at church, Tonya and I, when we got a call from our son, Justin, who was getting ready with Monica to join us for the late service. He had horrific news. Ricky had been hit by a car, after darting across the street, and we raced home to see what we could do. We rushed Ricky to the hospital, but were too late. That was a dark day for us.
Camy, however, recovered just fine and took over as queen of the house until we got another cat, Christophe, also from Nine Lives. She and Christophe were friendly enough, but still kept a bit of a distance. They would call a truce from their differences and snooze together quite often.
Shana: What was her favorite place to lounge at home?
Dave: Camy’s favorite lounge spot in the house was the back of the couch. She made herself at home on our couches and liked to be the “upper cat” seeing everything from her perch. We would put a blanket over the back of the couch to make it more comfortable and to control the cat hair. I believe it was Camy who was once mortified when we had the couch in the garage in our old house for some reason. It was out-of-place, and she needed it in its proper place. She was probably worried we were getting rid of it!
She stared at it as if to say, “What is going on here?!” She jumped on it to make sure it would stay put.
Shana: Tell us a funny story or two about Camy?
Dave: Camy wouldn’t drink water out of a regular bowl, unless there was no other choice. She had her own cup in the cup holder on the couch. She would constantly steal our water from our cups, even though she could drink out of one of the bowls of water we laid out. She needed her own glass. We even had a special bowl set up in the bathroom, a “Mr. Toad” bowl from Disneyland, because she would drink water left over in the shower. That was a trick left over from Ricky. Not necessarily a bad thing, but we figured she would prefer the bowl, always ready with water. She did like that. She also liked to drink water in the trough of potted plants outside (when she roamed around in our old house).
Our funniest story was when Tonya had set up a martini glass with water and a floating mint-candy candle set up in it. She would light the candle at Christmas time and make it festive. But she kept noticing that the water was disappearing from the martini glass. She would fill it up again, but what was happening? Turns out that Camy was sneaking onto the dining table (a no-no) and drinking that water! Why drink ordinary water when you can drink martini-candle water on the table?! We got such a laugh out of this. We ended up setting the glass-candle on the hearth or floor and she could drink whenever she wanted.
I think my favorite was when Camy sang opera for me (at least that’s what it could have been!). I bought a used musical instrument a while back, a mellophone, which looks like a big cornet, but is keyed in F, so I can play my old French horn music, leftover from days of yore. It was fun to play music again and this was easier for me to play than the French horn. Often, I would retreat to the basement in our former Redwood City home to practice in the evening. That worked out well, as I didn’t disturb the family upstairs. But the basement was also the evening hideout for the cats, Camy and Ricky, and eventually Camy and Christophe. Usually, I would play before we set the cats in for the night.
However, one night, I was going to practice late; I just had to do this before bed. The cats were already hunkered down, but I figured they could handle this for one evening.
After I started playing, I suddenly heard Camy meowing at full volume in the other room! She started wailing, and I wasn’t sure if she was singing along–doing her opera–or howling in pain (maybe I needed to “take some more lessons!”, as Rodney Dangerfield said in Caddyshack). I started laughing, because Camy’s meowing was so overpowering, and I kept trying to decide if we were doing a duet, or she was begging me to stop. With the hilarity and my breakout laughing, I couldn’t play anymore, so I just put the thing away and left chuckling.
Camy had won!
Rest in peace sweet Camy 🌈
Born: March 2005
Crossed Rainbow Bridge: July 2023