Lady Jane Handke Meredith
The Cat of a Thousand Names
3/1/2003 – 5/13/2020
Our love story began in September of 2007, when I visited Salem Friends of Felines with my friend Katherine. We visited several cats, then Katherine noticed one snoozing in a bed at the top of a cat condo towards the back of the room. I hadn’t seen that black cat, because she was higher up and hadn’t uttered a sound. (I later saw the irony in this.) I eased over, reached up, and rubbed the cat’s head and scratched behind her ears. She rolled over to expose her belly, not an easy thing for cats to do since historically predators will attack them there. I casually stroked her belly a few times, spent some more time with other cats, and Katherine and I left the room.
Out of curiosity, I asked the volunteer how long the average cat stay was at the shelter. She said the kittens are all typically gone within about three weeks, but with adults it depends on the cat. She said, “For example…Lady is such an awesome cat, but she doesn’t put herself out there, so people don’t pay any attention to her. She’s been here for a year and a half.”
I looked at the photos of all the cats on the wall behind the volunteer. Lady was the black cat in the condo at the back of the room. The one who had rolled over and invited me to stroke her tummy. “Just a minute,” I told Katherine, before walking back into the room. I leaned close to Lady’s head, petted her again, and asked if she’d like to come home with me. She didn’t say anything, but a “yes” feeling came over me.
I was staying in Salem that night, not returning home to Lake Oswego until the following day. The shelter wasn’t open Sundays, but the volunteer assured me there would be people there cleaning and giving vaccinations, and they would find a way to let me finalize the adoption paperwork and take Lady home with me.
I went to the shelter Sunday morning stocked from a trip to a pet supply store. The one item I’d forgotten was a proper cat carrier, so the shelter provided a cardboard one with big holes at the top. I eased the cardboard cat carrier with Lady in it into the passenger seat, buckled my seatbelt and headed north on I-5.
Once we hit the freeway, this cat couldn’t stop talking. I responded to all of her vocalizations – sometimes in what I could gather of cat-speak, and other times in human English, saying things like, “Yep, you’re going to your new forever home. It’s in Lake Oswego. My place isn’t fancy, but you’ll like it. I promise I’ll take good care of you.” Every time she spoke, I responded. I frequently took my right hand off the steering wheel to poke a finger through the holes in the cardboard crate so she could smell and feel me. It went this way for the entire 45-minute drive.
Upon reaching the cabin-like apartment at Neff Park Lane, I quickly put up the scratching post, litter box, and food and water bowls, before I released Lady from the crate. She quickly looked around and found a place to hide, under my bed in the bedroom. I checked in, let her know I was around. I put some music on the stereo, lit a candle, sang, cooked, offered words of comfort.
Within 45 minutes, she came out from the bedroom, had a drink of water, ate some food, used the litter box, the scratching post, and made herself at home. That very first night she curled up next to me in bed and we slept and purred together all night long.
I gave her a middle name, “Jane,” the same as my mother’s. Lady became Lady Jane.
She moved with me twice before I fell in love with George Meredith in 2012 and we became engaged and moved into this home together on Lake Forest Blvd. in 2014. We’ve been a family of three since then. George and I married September 14, 2019.
Some of our favorite rituals have been Friday movie nights on the living room sofa, with my legs over George’s and Lady on the afghan over us. George loved his time with Lady in the kitchen in the morning while I was still sleeping, how she loved the warm melted ice cream from the bottom of his bowl. I loved how when I said, “Come to bed and read!” she would snuggle next to me while I sipped tea and enjoyed my latest book.
We have learned so much about unconditional love and how to embrace life from this loving and loveable, sassy, bright, warm, and extremely talkative cat. (Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLjQDdbpV2I.)
After several weeks of steady and gentle physical decline, Lady Jane spent her last night snuggled in bed between her Mama and Papa. By 6:40 am, her breathing had become shallow and we laid her on towels in front of the antique dresser where she had recently been most comfortable. She passed at approximately 8:00 am.
We will love and miss you forever, Lady Jane. Sweets Burrine. Snuggle Toe. Crazy Legged Cat. Punkin’. Squawk Box. Sweetheart. Little Miss Cat. Baby Kitten. Twitchy Tail. Sweetie Pie. Silly Girl. Scarfer. Snuggle Butt. Cuddles. Monkey. Flazzle Foot. Litter Kicker. Wild-Eyed Boogie Wooger. Lady Lou. Queen of the Crunch Machine. Boogie Butt. Lean Mean Kitty Machine. Skidget. Cat With the Honky Tonk Walk. Grunky. Feather Foot. Miss January. Diamond Girl. Tickey, Tickey, Tickey Toe. Baby Cool Juice. Swagger Tail. Chatter Head. Fur Bane Puppy Monkey. Kipsie. Baby Cuteness. Boogie Tron. Sugar Nose. Honey Ears. Plenty of Kitten. Honey Heart. Lady Belle. Angel of the Angel Cats. Our dear, dear, beloved Lady Jane.