On the night of November 11, 2004, I heard from outside my apartment a sad meowing. Looking out the window revealed a small cat running from one apartment door to the next to the next, crying for someone to let her in out of the freezing cold. Immediately I ran to open the door and call her; she came quickly and without hesitation, and began examining my apartment and making herself at home. That night, she slept with me on my bed.

She was scrawny as all hell, and had a wound on the back of her right rear leg. Dead-broke as I was at the time, I couldn’t afford cat food, but I brought her home grilled chicken from McDonald’s (where I then worked). Her injury gradually healed, and she put on weight and became sleek and beautiful. Up to my ears in Saitou obsession at that juncture, I named her Takagi Tokio (though the family name was never used); but over the years she came to be known as Waybee.

From the very first, she was cuddlesome and playful. She remained playful until well into her late years. She became very attached to me, probably because it was I that rescued her out of the cold and gave her chicken and a home, but she mildly loved my family members too.

She would comfort me when I wasn’t feeling well, and sit on my lap while I worked. She liked to be around people but not interact with them, so when I wasn’t home, she would seek out someone else and bean nearby.

She was always kind and gentle, and remarkably responsible with her claws — to the point where my dad once asked me if she was declawed. She rarely deliberately scratched or bit at humans (barring the early days when, as a kitten, she would attack my feet for fun), and the only furniture she ever scratched was my Tutankhamen rug.

A few times she escaped out of wherever I lived at that point, but she always came back. I’m convinced she really did love me. Yes, she would harass me at mealtimes, putting her little whiskery face right in mine and tickling me awake or pawing at me with her sweet little round paws, but I truly believe she loved me for more than that.

Her incredibly adorable nose was very easy to boop, because she would always approach an extended finger and sniff it. Likewise, she always had to sniff whatever you were eating. She didn’t often want to eat it, but it seemed very important to her to sniff it. Treats she enjoyed were Cool Whip and Easy Cheese, and you could get the most profound yowls out of her by implying you had a can of wet cat food to offer.

I always suspected she was part Bombay, since she had some of the characteristics of that breed: remarkably soft fur that never roughened as her life went on, and small white bits of hair in among the black. She lacked only the copper-colored eyes. In any case, she was unfailingly beautiful.

After one particular vacation, she slept right on top of me as if to forbid me leaving again. At Christmastime one year, she picked up a small ball ornament by its hanger and trotted off as if that was exactly what she’d been looking for. She once bawled for Galileo to come to her so she could teach him to catch the mouse she’d found. My mom got a picture of her lying on top of the sound box she used back then, and has been claiming for years that Waybee is her staff. The first time we shone a laser pointer spot for her to play with, she did so until she was panting and so dizzy she couldn’t walk straight. She seemed to enjoy many of the songs I always sang to her.

In short, she was the best cat I can imagine, and I loved her with all my heart. She helped me through dark times. I often said to her, “It is like magic to have you around,” because I could never quite believe that a young animal I took in off the street could come to mean so much to me and fill me with such endless delight. My time with her outlasted any human friendship I’ve ever had outside my blood relations. What a miracle she was. How will I ever do without her?

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