Colleen – Queen CoCo Colleen’er
I was on a road trip passing through Crescent City when I met Colleen. She was the last of a litter being given away, classically, by two young children with a laundry basket in front of a store. Getting into the car I put Colleen on my lap. She immediately began to burrow into my sweater and happily crawled into the pass-through pocket of my hoodie; she was so tiny she had plenty of room. For the next two hours she purred and made bread, absolutely content. That is how she continued through her life, quick to purr, always making bread and obviously content, especially when there was something to burrow into or another creature to cuddle with. She slept against me every night, often burrowing under the covers for extra warmth, and purring herself to sleep. When not cuddled or burrowed Colleen would often rest at a pillowed window perch to watch birds or bath in the sun.
Though I hoped Colleen would be a welcome friend to my feline companion, BoiKat, whom I already shared my home with, did not, initially, share that sentiment. BoiKat produced every kind of territorial posturing towards Colleen, but she was simply above all that non-sense. In time Colleen and BoiKat became close companions. Later I introduced HelLStar, a traumatized rescue kitty that was very difficult to integrate with BoiKat. The boys would fight, if I got in the middle I got bloody. Somehow, Colleen could call out, saunter right between the two, sniff each of the boys face, and that was it; no more aggression. I believe Colleens peaceful demeanor was critical at calming the tension between BoiKat and HelLStar; their relationship continues to improve. Colleen conducted herself like royalty and received the respect of BoiKat and HelLStar unquestioned, as such she became known as the “Queen” of the house.
Colleen also held the nick name “CoCo” on account of her tendency to enter a high energy, absolutely wild, frenzy when playful. She loved to play with a piece of old shoe lace pulled through large pieces of shipping paper; anything within reach fell victim when CoCo went past. She would slap at the string with wild abandon, and generally absolute inaccuracy. At times she would tear through the house sliding around corners, crashing into furniture, other cats, or me. I could always tell when Colleen was turning CoCo because she had trademark vocalizations specific to her moods and activities. When she got really excited she would throw her head back, meow throatily while waving her head back and forth like a dragon breathing fire, then suddenly snap her jaw shut and look around seemingly surprised at the sound, sometimes followed by a demure sounding meow. It was her strong tendency to vocalization and response to certain sounds which inspired her primary name, Colleen. Most obviously was her tendency to “call out”, she was very expressive and talkative. Colleen would respond to her name, call out when she woke up, got up, started moving, met me or one of her feline companions, decided to play, wanted to eat…very talkative. The “ee” within “Colleen” produces a sound that she naturally responded to so I sought a name that would incorporate that sound; Colleen suited her well. Several times I tried to learn the acoustic guitar but as soon as I touched a string Colleen would start talking, approach, and pull at the strings with her teeth and claws; she simply loved and was fascinated by sounds. At home I generally addressed her colloquially as “Colleen’er”, or “CoCo”. BoiKat and HelLStar respected her like royalty, eventually she came to be more formally known as “Queen CoCo Colleen’er”.
Queen CoCo Colleen’er was an amazing feline and my very dear companion for over 8 years. That was much too short a time for such a wonderful, vivacious creature to enjoy life. On 20 February 2014 Colleen developed congestive heart failure and was diagnosed with unclassified cardiomyopathy. Initially Colleens prognosis was not positive, and even once her condition stabilized, her life expectancy was 4-12 months. Somehow I knew that my life with Colleen was not yet finished. With the care, guidance and support of the team at OSU Small Animal Veterinary Hospital our life together was extended by 28 months, more than twice the expected best case for her condition!
On 21 June 2016 a cancerous growth of the small intestine and lymph node was discovered during a follow up exam. Colleen was admitted to the hospital overnight to prepare for surgery in the morning. Near midnight on 22 June 2016 I received notice that Colleen was in distress and I headed to the hospital. By the time I arrived Colleen had stopped breathing on her own. The health care team provided artificial life support which allowed me to be a comforting presence for Queen CoCo Colleen’er in the last few minutes of her life. My presence noticeably calmed Colleen, and I am confident that she died feeling the comfort of my presence and love.
Queen CoCo Colleen’er was a very unique, dear and special companion to me and her feline housemates. BoiKat, HelLStar, and myself are better for having shared her life. Though the absence of Queen CoCo Colleen’er saddens me and has also noticeably impacted BoiKat and HelLStar, the memories of our life together continue to bring me joy. I will be forever grateful for the time I was able to share with Queen CoCo Colleen’er, and the love of life she brought to our home.
A donation was made in Colleen – Queen CoCo Colleen’er's memory and the memorial was created on December 22, 2016.