Sometimes stereotypes fit. You know what they say about red heads right? Well, Bailey lived up to it. She started out life as an abandoned barn cat, left to die, by a mother who knew better. Unfortunately, my mother with her heart of gold, rescued the two orphan sisters and hand fed them until they were old enough to go to their own homes. Bailey joined our family when she was just 6 weeks old. That was nearly 18 years ago. Today, the angry ginger left our world. She will be the last cat we ever have. In ways both good and bad, no other feline could ever live up to her legacy anyway.
Bailey was the most cantankerous cat ever. She loved small children, big black and white stray dogs, canned tuna and trickery. Her best friend ever was Marley dog. I think she gave up a little when we lost him a few years ago. She took her grief out on all border collies who entered our home from that day forward. Bailey was the reason that we couldn't keep a pet sitter for more than one weekend for years. She made grown men scream like little girls, and was known to chase said men clear across the house. My favorite cornering involved a house guest of Sean's becoming trapped in the bathroom by the 8 pound cat. We awoke in the middle of the night to "Sean, come get your fucking cat." That story still makes me chuckle. Who needs a guard dog when you have an 8 pound, hand raised kitty.
She had the tease down to an art form. We would give all house guests the typical disclaimer warning "no matter how cute the cat is, don't pet her, it's a trick." Inevitably, they would somehow think they were the cat whisperer, who could conquer her. She'd spot them a mile away. It always started the same, weaving between their legs like a perfect figure 8. "Look how cute I am" she'd beckon. Then she'd pull out the big guns and flip over on her back. We'd repeat our warnings, but no one would ever listen the first time. As they reached down to pet her she'd seal the deal, a small glistening bit of drool would begin to form in the corner of her mouth as she let them scratch under her neck. Then, quick as lightening it would happen. She would simultaneously wrap all four paws around their arm while pulling it to her mouth for the bite. Perhaps she had some vampire blood in that twisted gene pool of hers. Sean and I could do nothing but exchange the "told you so" glance while going for the anti-bacterial soap and band aides. I once had a co-worker who now wears a permanent scar from falling for this not once, but twice.
I don't want you to get the wrong idea. While she was a nightmare, I loved her. Even things that annoy us are worthy of our love. The house isn't going to be quite the same without her. She was my perfect training tool for Annie's "leave it" and "stay". She wouldn't get within 5 feet of Bay. She knew better. I will miss her peeking underneath doors to see what we are doing. I'll miss her random swipes at the dog and my feet as we passed by. Mostly, I will miss her spirit, because unlike the rest of us, Bailey never did one damn thing she didn't want to do. She also was never afraid to give you her honest opinion about anything. We could all stand to learn to live our lives a little more like she did.
Finally, I'll leave you with an early picture. She could be a sweet kitty when she wanted to, usually for an extremely short period of time. Like just long enough to snap a picture. You can see in her eyes, she was about ready to serve me up some ginger attitude. RIP Miss Bailey Ross. Thanks for a great long run.