My oldest cat is named Sneakers. Her foster family called her that because she liked to hide in shoes.


When I first saw her in May 1999, she was stretching herself awake, one little black head in the pile of her gray and white littermates. Everybody else had been adopted, except for her.  Her ears were huge for her head, which led us to nickname her Bat Ears.


From the first time I held her, stroking her with one finger between her ears, she was mine. I had to wait a week for her spaying. We took her home with her sutures still in place.


When she was still a kitten, we called her the seagull because she had a very demanding voice. She was polite to the elder cats in the house, but she had definite opinions about how she would be treated.


When she was about a year old, she took a bad fall, sustaining a hairline fracture of her hard palate. Fortunately she recovered after an overnight stay with the vet.


When we took in two strays, she mothered them: washing their heads, teaching them how to get up on the counter, and showing them how to play.


She’s 20 years old.


She won’t make it to 21.