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July I5, 1996 - March 15. 2009

When Blackie died in July I999, I waited until the start of 2000 to get another cat, since I
had to wait until I had no more performances for a long while. My family and I contacted an agent
for pet adoption, who referred me to a small shelter run by my vet, Cinnaminson Animal Hospital.
l was not sure that I had any specifics about how the new cat should look. I almost went for
a male orange tabby. But then I saw a female black. named either Isis or Iris, and fell in love with
her since Blackie. naturally. had also been black. I was told this black adoptive candidate was 4 or
5 years old. She had been owned previously by another family who had neglected her. But had she
ever had kittens? She was already spayed now; I never found out if she had ever borne kittens
I decided to take the black female but I changed her name to Ebony. No other black cats I
had known personally or had seen photos of had ever been named that. It was symbolically
appropriate for her color. She had gold eyes, but her coat was not solid black. I soon observed that
she had one small white spot, about the size of a quarter, on her underside between the hind legs.
She also had scattered white hairs on the right side of her neck. Ebony came to my home on February I6, 2000.

Only a week after she came to live with me, Ebony revealed that she had a problem with
vomiting. I took her back to the vet who said that the adoption agent had stated that Ebony was
lactose intolerant, so that she must not be given milk. She also had a very delicate stomach; she
could not eat table scraps or canned cat food --only dry cat food and water. I had to monitor her
every time she ate, because she would vomit on an average of once every 4 or 5 days.
I have always loved to pick up my cats and hold them close to me. But Ebony was very
uncooperative in this manner. I would pick her up and cuddle her, but almost immediately, she
would mew and squirm so that I had to put her down. The only way I could pick her up was to take
her by surprise and sense her onset of resistance so that she would not scratch or bite me when I hadto put her down.

When the weather grew warmer that first year, she would want to go outside more. But then
she would want to go out when I was ready for bed, or after I had gone to bed; so that I had to sit on
the steps leading to my upstairs apartment waiting for her to come back. I think it was about a year
that I gave up losing sleep by waiting for her and would let her back inside the following morning.
Every time I heard her mewing late at night, I was afraid the tenants in the adjoining apartments
might complain to the front office so that the management would take action against either Ebony or me!

I liked when I would get into my bed and she would jump up at the foot to sleep with me.
She liked to squeeze herself into the space between my spread-eagled legs. But when she was
hungry, she jumped onto my bureau-top altar, knocking flowers or sacred objects over! I tried after
a long while to stop her doing this by spraying her with a water bottle, but it proved fruitless.
Every year when Halloween and Christmas parades were held, I would have to go away for
a couple of nights at a time, and left Ebony with my parents. But they complained about her
vomiting on their dining room rug. After some time they ruled she be confined to the basement.
But then after years, they refused to baby-sit her anymore, so that now I had an extra expense by
having to board her at the vet's.

In July 2008 I transferred Ebony from the Cinnaminson vet to Heritage Vet, directly across
the street from my apartment, so that now the vet was within walking distance. Heritage gave her a
checkup to get her registered, and promised to board her whenever necessary. They also
determined that her date of birth probably had been July 15, 1996.

In January of this year, I took her for her annual checkup. Then, sadly, the vet told me that
she had insurmountable kidney problems, and was not expected to live more than a couple of
months longer. For a while she kept up her strength by eating, but in the last few weeks, she
urinated in the wrong places and ate less and less. She lost so much weight that I could see and feel
her bones when I picked her up. In the end she was more cooperative with my holding her than she
had ever been in all the time I had had her.

On the morning of March 15, 2009, she wanted to go outside. I let her out, but had to go to
church about an hour later. I saw her on the front lawn and thought I should let her back in. But
she just sat there. I went out to my fathers car and saw her walk across the front sidewalk.
When I returned from church, she was not at the front door waiting for me. I went inside
and busied myself with craft work and TV for many hours. Every once in a while, I got up and
looked down the stairs, but she still was not at the front door. Finally, at dusk, I had to go out and
look for her. I called her name repeatedly, but she did not answer. I went around the side of my
building and then saw a black form lying on the lawn next to a group of small bushes. It was
Ebony! I rushed to her, felt her body, and saw that she was dead! All that time I had been waiting
for her, she had been lying here lifeless. She must have died while I was at church.

I had to call my family and tell them, they said the best thing to do until she could be buried
was to keep her body outside on my upstairs patio. I got a plastic bag, picked her up and hugged
her, put her into the bag and banded it shut, and put her on the patio. But a couple of hours later,
after it had grown dark, I went onto the patio, took out the corpse, removed her collar, and caressed
her once again for a long time, as she had never let me do while alive. I held her up as though
offering her to God, and then put her back into the bag.

In the morning, I called a woman at the office who had assisted in burying Blackie, but she
wasn't there. I had to call the maintenance department instead; they sent a man named Mike who
agreed to dig a grave in an adjoining abandoned golf course. He also brought an empty box for a
coffin. I put Ebony in it, closed it, and wrote her name, birth and death dates on the top. Ebony was
buried in the same property where Blackie had been buried nearly ten years earlier, and only a few yards away.

With both Blackie and Ebony buried in the same deserted woods, I will visit them once a
month (I had already done so with Blackie since she died) and pay them my respects.