As per Merriam-Webster, a lagniappe is “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase.” This is how Min came into our lives. Jim had gotten a job offer in the Park City area, and I flew out to house hunt with a realtor that a friend had recommended. One house––a top contender––had a very sweet kitten who purred so loud you could hear her coming. She followed me from room to room, and loved to be pet. I jokingly asked our realtor if she came with the house.
“We can ask. You never know, sometimes they say yes,” he said.
I didn’t really expect him to ask when we made our offer, but he did. It turned out that the owners were moving in with one of their children and couldn’t bring their cat with them. They’d been worried sick about what to do with her. We were happy to take her on, and she greeted us with purrs when we arrived.
“Motormouth” was what her previous people called her. It was a fitting name for a cat with a purr as loud as hers. She also had a deep-throated meow that you could hear across the house, and she had a lot to say. It turns out she wasn’t a kitten at all, but a senior somewhere over ten years old––no one was sure just how far over––a tiny 6-pound bundle of purr and meow that wasn’t going to get any bigger.
Min charmed Cooper, who had forgotten that he liked cats. She was patient with his doggishness, and he got used to her snuggling him while he slept. She loved a lap and could be counted on to find you if you were reading a book or watching television. She’d snuggle in with that roaring purr and keep purring until she fell asleep.
We found out at her first vet visit that her meowing was likely because she had thyroid disease, and her numbers were off the charts. Her thyroid was making her stressed and she was telling us about it. We put her on special food, to no avail. Then we tried medication. The medication helped a little, but not enough. She was going to need radiation.
We were fortunate to have an amazing vet who had had thyroid cancer herself, and had gone through the radiation process. It was the same for cats as for humans, and she talked me through everything we’d need to know, what the risks were, and what we’d need to do. She also warned us that sometimes hyperthyroidism hides other medical conditions, and she suspected that might be happening with Min.
I knew we needed to do the treatment, but something in my gut told me to wait. So we did. We kept trying the meds, adjusting the dosage. She was doing better, but not great. Her numbers were down, she was meowing a lot less, and she’d taken to sleeping under my chin at night.
Summertime came around again, and she was a fixture on our dining room table, curled on a cushion in the sun next to me while I revised a novel. She’d started to enjoy sitting on my shoulder like a parrot and snuggling into my neck or watching me write, purring heavily. She seemed happy, and we had many months like that.
Fall arrived. One day, I noticed she seemed tired. Other signs of trouble followed. It turned out her hyperactive thyroid was keeping her kidneys going despite advanced kidney disease. If we’d taken her for the radiation process, she would not have survived as long as she did. By delaying thyroid treatment, we’d gotten her one final summer of sunshine and snuggles.
She was only with us for a year and a half, but she brought us so much joy. I hope we brought the same to her.