My precious Chiyo is thirteen years old this week.
Her sweet little face now has silver gleaming on her muzzle, and glinting silver eyeliner. When she came to me she was entirely one colour; her eyes, her fur, and her tiny footpads were all precisely the same shade of blue-grey. Now she is a hundred shades of grey and silver and blue, and even her tail has bands of shading. She is truly a beautiful creature.
She has gone from the littlest 6-week old kitty to a beautiful round 6.8kg. Her kidneys, so painful for her and expensive for me, have settled with a permanent kitten diet and regular antibiotics and vet care. She is as healthy as she has been since she was a baby.
Chiyo has always been my cat.
Kana loves me dearly but protects Claire above all else.
Charmander was wild for too long, and though he's come back to us he will never be Claire's best friend again.
Lan, my Warder, guards and loves me well, but has the imperturbable personality of his namesake.
Captain Cappuccino, intended to be Claire's bonded mate, instead bonded with Wade and is now a spoiled household beast.
And Binky is Claire's and only Claire's - I may have all the kisses and purring she can produce, but it's Claire's pillow she sleeps on, and Claire's company she seeks.
Chiyo, though, has been my main source of comfort through my whole adulthood; ten years of marriage, two and a half degrees, a little daughter, nine lost babies, single motherhood, and now she is by my side as I am slowly coming into my own. There could be no companion more loving, more loyal, more forgiving, sweeter, or worth more. My Chiyo has kneaded my miscarrying uterus, purred against my gravid bump, licked up a million tears with her sandpaper tongue, and loved me fiercely every day. She sleeps in my bed, she is nearby when I read, and she never wants to be anywhere but safely with me. My gorgeous grey mow will still accompany me on my night-time walks if invited, despite her arthritis and her age.
It was a lucky day for me when Chiyo came into my life and heart and home.