Princess Gracie

I met her on Easter Sunday in 1997. She was just a few weeks old. Someone had left her and nine other ten-day-old kittens at the Clifton (NJ) animal shelter, and the shelter fostered them out to various vets in the area. My downstairs neighbor’s daughter was working for one of them, and she took two kittens home to foster: An all-orange, fluffy male, and an orange-and-white striped female. She gave them incredibly stupid names, like Nargle and something equally dumb (I’m not kidding; they’re on the adoption certificates buried somewhere in my papers). The female was ratty-looking and dirty, covered in milk and crying. The male was cute and fluffy and bouncy, and I decided straight off that I’d take him. Didn’t want the female. Two cats were too much for a small apartment. Two cats would be annoying. Sibling rivalries in cats? Ridiculously annoying. No, I’d just take the male cat to replace the orange male tabby I’d lost the month before.

Princess GracieBy the end of the afternoon, I had guilted myself into taking them both. I realized they’d be together for another six weeks, and I’d feel awful about tearing them apart, since they’d already been taken from their mother at too young an age. So I called my neighbor’s daughter and told her I’d take them both.

I don’t believe in naming cats right away. I wait and see what their name is before I give it to them. Well, except I was pretty sure I was going to name Tigger Tigger, because that was the name of the cat I had lost, and I was desperately trying to replace him in my life. But for a while, I pretended I wasn’t, and because I couldn’t call them “Male and Female” or “Hey you,” and because there was no way in hell I was going to call a cat Nargle or Urgle or whatever stupid name the girl had given them, I called them George and Gracie until I could figure out what their names were.

Tig became Tig relatively quickly. But Gracie? She was a puzzle. She was gorgeous, and sweet, and sensitive. She was timid. She ran if you moved too quickly in her direction. She frightened easily. I discovered early on what a crybaby she was when I heard her screaming like she was being savaged, and went quickly into the living room to see what big brother was doing. He was trying to play with Gracie, but he hadn’t even touched her. He was literally in midair, and she was crying before he landed. She ultimately stopped doing that, but boy, when Tig bothers her now, she growls like he’s tearing her leg off, even if all he’s doing is scratching on the kitty condo because she’s lying in the tube and he wants to bug her.

But no name came to me for weeks, and one of my coworkers of the time started to chastise me. “You have to name her, ” she said. “It’s not right to name one but not the other.” She accused me of favoritism. I started thinking, and finally, the reason I couldn’t name Gracie came to me: I’d already found her name. She was Grace itself.

Gracie is a Cat with a capital C. She is poised. She is graceful. She doesn’t walk, she places her feet carefully in position, slipping quietly through the house. She doesn’t sit, she poses. She is breathtakingly beautiful. She is royalty. One of her names is Princess Gracie. Another of her names is Sweetness. I have plenty of scars from Tig. Gracie has never once scratched me in the nine-plus years I’ve had her. Tig will roll over and let just about anyone rub his belly. Gracie will permit you to pet her, if she decides you are worthy. She’s gotten friendlier and sweeter in the last few years—she lets Sarah’s twins pet her, which is huge—she’s normally afraid of children. She’s taken to Sarah in a big way lately, too.

Our morning routine has developed to the point where Gracie waits anxiously outside the bathroom door while I shower, and meows as soon as the water goes off. She wants me to come into the bedroom, where she’ll leap on the bed for her morning chin-scratches and petting, with perhaps a bellyrub thrown in. It’s our time, the morning. Her purrs are deep and throaty, and she kneads her paws in contentment, especially when I ask, “Who’s my girl? Are you my girl?”

I said those words over and over again on the day I watched her fight for every breath, while she was recovering from a seizure brought on by a severe asthmatic attack. Even though she was in a plastic case with oxygen feeding into it, she kneaded her paws, purring, as I said those words. They’re her words, and she knows it.

My girl is going into surgery tomorrow morning, and she may not come out of it. There is possibly some kind of mass in her intestinal tract. I am hoping beyond hope that it’s a mass of fur and grass and other objects that she simply can’t pass, or, failing that, that it’s an operable tumor. Because nine and a half years is not long enough with my Sweetness.

R’fuah shlema, Sweetness. Come back to me tomorrow.

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39 Responses to Princess Gracie

  1. chsw says:

    May your princess have a refuah and thrive.


  2. The Doctor says:

    Having had cats longer than we’ve had kids, and having had them undergo surgery, we fully sympathize and both our prayers and those of our fuzzy and unfuzzy children are with you and Gracie.

  3. Rahel says:

    Prayers for Gracie’s complete healing, with all my heart. May she soon be back home with you, healthy and well.

  4. iamfelix says:

    My prayers go out to you and your Gracie, and purrs from my 3 kittycats. I love her names – our family always has pet names galore for pets and people. My mom always quoted a Russian proverb, “A child that is well-loved has many names.”

  5. We are praying that Gracie will come out of surgery just fine and will be back home very soon. Your story made our Mommy cry, because the way you described Gracie was exactly how our Trixie was, and since she has gone to the bridge (after 18 too short years) we haf missed her so much. We will say extra special prayers tomorrow morning for her too. – Sammy and Miles, The Meezers.

  6. Diva Kitty says:

    You’re in our thoughts

  7. Merlin says:

    My Mommy’s face is wet from readin’ this, and we’re both gonna say lots of purr-ayers for you and Gracie tonight.

    Headbutts and Purrs,

  8. Houston says:

    I have said a prayer for Gracie. May the Lord keep her safe and return her to you.

  9. The meaning of Grace: “Christianity, the favor of God.”
    . . . . . .
    Dear Sweet little Grace,
    May the favor of God be with you and bring you safely through your surgery.
    Love paws,
    The Harmony Kitties

  10. THE ZOO says:


  11. many prayers go out from us for the perfect healing of your darling gracie. the kitties will purrrrr and purrrrr for her, and i will pray steadfastly. no, nine years is not enough; 20 are not, believe me. g*d willing, blessings will be yours–all of you–for many, many years.

  12. Leigh says:

    What a sweet, touching post. I read about the call to prayer for Gracie on the Cat Blogosphere and came to read her story. It’s so tough with animals. My worst experience was losing my favorite rabbit. I can’t imagine what it would be like having one of my cats so sick. Blessings on you and Gracie. May the vet have the wisdom and skill to allow her to return safely home to you.

  13. KC alerted every blogging cat she knows with the news to pray for sweet Princess Gracie.

    Your post today was just beautiful, very touching.

    We are all praying — human, cat and dog, for that sweet little girl.

  14. Hot(M)BC says:

    We will be praying for Gracie.
    Robyn and the rest of the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats

  15. Herschel says:

    My thoughts are with both of you. Hopefully, all will be well, and Gracie can come home soon to recuperate and continue to receive the special love she deserves.

  16. Hugh says:

    Meryl, I’m thinking about you and Gracie. May you both have many more years together in good health.

  17. nikita says:

    Will put Gracie in our prayers tonight

  18. A Steve says:

    That stinks. Meredith and I wish Gracie a speedy and total recovery.

  19. momsbusy says:

    we will be praying for your entire family during this difficult time. gracie is truly a very special cat. may you have many more years together.

  20. Chris L. says:

    Hang in there, Gracie! You too, Meryl. :)

  21. Robert says:

    Meryl You have my prayers for a speedy recovery for Gracie!

  22. What a touching story! We are praying and purring for your family. Gracie will soon be home with those she loves and who love her.

  23. Alex Bensky says:

    Ingrid the cat and I will be pulling for you and Gracie, Meryl. We look forward to reading good news soon.

  24. Rondi says:

    Me and the Wonkitties are sending the bestest vibes!

  25. William says:

    Me and my mom and my brother and sisters are thinking of Gracie and you. We are keeping our paws crossed for the best.

  26. Elisson says:

    SWMBO and I send our love and prayers for a refuah sh’leimah – a speedy and complete recovery – for your sweet Gracie.

  27. I keep forgetting to tell everyone this:

    Thank you.

  28. ilyka says:

    Don’t you worry about thanking anybody, missy. You’ve made all your readers love both your kitties and it’s the very least any of us can do to say a few prayers for your beautiful Cat with a capital C.

    Let it be operable, let it be simple, let it heal, let her come home safe and happy.

  29. kattonic says:

    Your story of Gracie made me cry. I know what it is to love and be loved by cats. I’ve had them longer than my husband or children.
    Lord guide the hand of the surgeon and bring healing and health to Gracie and a long life to her and Meryl. Amen.
    We will keep up the prayers until Gracie is healing and ready to come home.

  30. Mark S. says:

    Here’s hoping everything turns out all right for Gracie. You have my prayers.

  31. Imshin says:

    Thinking about Gracie. Waiting to hear.

  32. Connecticut Yankee says:

    Just saw Laurence Simon’s post about Gracie– prayers from this corner of New England for Gracie’s healing and for God to guide the vet’s hands. My Princess is 11– you are so right that no amount of time with a beloved cat is ever long enough . . . Will be thinking of both of you– God bless.

  33. Chairwoman says:

    Hoping that it’s good news from the vet. Thinking about you both.

  34. Hubris says:

    Hang in there, Meryl.

  35. The entire Cat Blogosphere now knows about Gracie. Your story really struck a chord with me since we had a George & Gracie, too. Unfortunately we lost her suddenly at 6 years old to heart problems, but her brother George is now 9 1/2 and doing well.

    We also had a cat, Shadow, that chewed plastic and developed intestinal blockages which required 2 different surgeries. She came through them fine, and all Gracie’s friends are pulling for her to do the same.

  36. Debra says:

    My prayers are with you and Gracie.


  37. JW says:

    Me and Mister (my 12 year old darling who also has a mass in his intestine) send our good wishes.

  38. Hi dehr.

    Mommie and me iz purraryin for Gracie…

    Dat she haf a mirakle…

    Baruch Hashem.


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