It was a normal summer day on the 1st of May in 2014 when my dad told me about an odd-eyed stray cat he saw outside our house. The next thing I knew was that the cat whose right eye was blue and the left, yellow, was brought into our garden, what with my dad thinking I could take beautiful pictures of her.

She was indeed pretty and quite charismatic, albeit dirty. She cooperated very well and we finished taking photos fast. I petted and told her, “Hey you can go home now.” We cuddled for a bit and she proceeded to groom my hand. I took pictures and videos on my phone to document this random stray’s sweetness. I was completely taken over by her charm. I even posted on Instagram, saying, “Why is this cat not mine?”

This was CC on the first day I met her. It was like she didn’t sleep for years as I found her sleeping comfortably outside our front door for three days.

I wished she could be adopted by a loving family. I went on with my day as she fell asleep on the garden bench.

Three days had passed. Whenever I checked on her, she’d be so peacefully asleep, as if she hadn’t slept for three years straight. My boyfriend and I joked around about it – she might be pretending to be asleep so she didn’t have to go home, we said.

On the fourth day, my brother reminded me that her owner might be looking for her. With a heavy heart, before I left for Sunday church, I carried her to the apartment where she was said to have been staying. “Here’s your cat, you might be looking for her. She seems to have taken a liking to our garden,” I told the woman at the gate. She took her and said the cat only stayed in their house to sleep, but went out to look for food.

I wasn’t sure if it was right to leave her there.

This outfit represents her best as she is really a cheerleader, always lifting my spirit and making me smile.

Sunday mass was ordinary and my mind was littered with thoughts of this white cat. I hurried home right after and there she was on our doorstep! She was happily snoozing, as if nothing happened. She had made up her mind: My home was her home.

Copycat

I had apprehensions about having an eighth cat. For one, I already had a white cat named Coco. But you knew you had started falling in love with a cat when you began to think of names. Ideas went from Coco Chanel, to Chanel’s CC logo and it somehow clicked. She is CC, literally a carbon copy and a copycat of my Coco.

I had just finished neutering each of my seven cats, which took a lot of time. I knew that bringing another cat into our home meant scheduling another surgery. But I looked at CC’s photos, often zooming in at the notch on her right ear – it was sometimes how cats were marked under a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project, which meant she had already been spayed (which our vet would later confirm).

She was so ready to be adopted; she didn’t give me much choice. When a cat adopts you first and had all her cards lined against any reason why not, what is there to do but happily oblige? Right?

Co-conspirator

Each morning, I found my dad sharing pandesal with her. She was instantly accepted by the other cats but she stayed in the backyard. She thrived, assured she was home, but she also had a wound at the base of her tail that prompted an emergency vet visit.

Our favorite veterinarian said she had scabies – treatable, but requiring two months of isolation from the other cats. During this time, my cats still lived outside but were provided a sleeping enclosure at night. It was at that moment when I decided to take CC into my room to care for her.

Two months was ample time for her to completely recover and enjoy the creature comfort of indoor living. It was awesome and life-changing, in fact, that I thought of having my cats cleared by our vet before I sneaked them into the house one by one.

CC was the catalyst who gave all my cats a chance at better living conditions.

When my boyfriend and I parted ways for about a year, CC got sick. She had terrible gingivitis and bad teeth that had to be pulled out. She was the reason we got back together again. Our first date after the breakup was at Animal House – it was CC’s scheduled dental surgery.

The family that went to the vet together, stayed together.

Constant companion

From the moment she entered my room, we simply clicked. We became besties. We always shared the same space. Whether I was reading magazines for inspiration or sprawled out on the floor trying to meditate, she joined me. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and find her snuggled beside me.

Sometimes we were frenemies. She hated being groomed so it was always a struggle to clean her face and ears and trim her nails. She even broke a camera lens in half.

An illustration my friend made of me and my cats with CC giving a pose of approval.

Right now, she is sprawled out on my desk, sleeping as I ruminate on our memories together. I can’t believe she turned out to be the cat whom I brought to social events with much worrying that she would misbehave.

I was happy that it was only at home that she showed her mischievous side. Outside, she was delightful. She once came with me to a crafting class with fellow cat ladies. She was often my model during my pet photography talks. She also came with me to work at a cat cafe on a day when most of the cafe cats went to the vet. People would always want to adopt her and I would find myself saying proudly that she was not for adoption.

CC was always at home when we were together, and my home was wherever she was.

Crystal clear

While all my cats are special to me and I love them all equally, I just know that CC is my spirit animal or even my familiar, if you will. She is so attached to my heart in more ways than I can explain. Our bond runs very deep and I find myself in awe of how we had crossed paths.

I will never know what her life was like years before we met and when she was born, and I will never know where she came from. Did she have kitties before being spayed? I won’t know how many families she had before me. All I know is that I’m grateful every day she chooses me as her mom.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the lady in the apartment next door didn’t come to take her back. With five years and counting of us being quite the duo, I believe I have earned every right to be the official mother of CC.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s July 2019 issue.

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