We adopted Chelsea in October 1989, about a year after we'd bought our house. She was one of four six-week-old kittens that had been brought to our neighbor's house, for her two girls to pick a pet. Fortunately for me they didn't choose the little orange fluffball, because the minute I saw her I was hopelessly in love. A couple of her personality traits sealed the deal for me. For one thing, she went bounding across the lawn, leapt for the top of the one-step porch -- and completely missed. Banged her head on the concrete, landed on her haunches, and looked dazed. She was adorable. The other thing I loved about her was that she would let me hold her like an infant, cradling her on her back so I could scratch her tummy. She never stopped letting me.
She had a loud scratchy scream that she employed whenever she was hungry. She had the prettiest jade-green eyes I've ever seen. She could jump nearly to eye level and would ambush us around corners. She had long curly ginger hair that was impossible to comb. She would let Mike toss her into the air like a four-legged pillow and catch her on the way down. She hated strangers invading and would bite if necessary to defend her house. At age twelve she became a traveling cat and adapted to RV life. We loved her for nineteen lucky years and a million laughs.
In 2001 at age eleven, Chelsea became "RV Cat", traveling with us all over the Pacific Northwest. Then in 2006, at age 16, we took her to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. She liked to sit outside the trailer in her very own chair and watch the world.
Chelsea lived to the ripe old age of nineteen. Her last year, though, she clearly wasn't well. Our vet tried valiantly but he could never pin down her illness, so we had to make a heartbreaking decision. I took some final pictures of her sampling the yard and enjoying the wood stove, before we said goodbye and sent her across the Rainbow Bridge.