Pet Spotlight: J.T. Ellison

Jade Being Damn Cute 002

Jade being damn cute.

All I saw was a kitten who’d struck out on her own, a little stripedy runaway. She had gumption, I could see that. Desires, dreams. She wanted a bigger world than the one she’d been dealt. She was a renegade. She had to be mine.

But she was also a five-week-old kitten who was terribly sick. The vet around the corner nursed her back to health, and she came home with us — a yowling little ball of fur who was the most fiercely independent cat I’ve ever had.

And that decision changed my life. Jade unwittingly set me along the path to becoming a writer. I worked for the vet who patched her up for three days (after my first neutering, I was done.) Before I could quit, I picked up a large golden and herniated a disc in my back. That led to surgery, and recovery time, and library books, where I discovered John Sandford. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jadie never let us forget how much she appreciated the fact that we picked her. Saved her life. Cats are supposed to have nine — well, by the time she came home with us, she’d already used up three. And proceeded to lose a couple of more when she was vaccinated the first time, and went into anaphylactic shock. Only a race back to the vet and several rounds of epinephrine saved her.

We went to special lengths for this cat. When we travelled, she had her own personal babysitter who came over and stayed with her, watching television and reading books to her. She absolutely couldn’t be boarded, she turned into a neurotic, shaking mess around other animals. A visit from my parents sent her into paroxysms of kitty terror. She would take up residence under my bed, hissing and growling at everyone who dared come near. Which was amusing, because she was a regular hussy with anyone else who showed up on our doorstep.

What must she have seen in those five weeks before we made her our own? What terrors haunted her days and nights? I’ll never know.

JadeeditorUntil last year, Jade’s paws (and most of the rest of her body) touched every physical manuscript I’d ever written. She’d often park herself on the pages as I was editing, which earned her the very apt nickname Galley Cat.

Though she wasn’t a big lap cat when she was younger, as she matured, she wouldn’t take no for an answer – she was going to get in my lap whether I wanted her to or not. Which was a problem. I use a laptop to write. You see the issue.

I never had the heart to kick her off. It was nice to have a furball in my lap, warm and purring and gazing up adoringly as I scratched her ears. Yes, yes, I know. She played into my ego. I was enamored of the idea that this cat, who I chose, had also chosen me.

In October of 2011, Jade stopped eating, and took to a small camp she’d made in our guest room, a tent built with pillows that received the warmth of the sun but also provided quiet, peaceful privacy. By Thanksgiving we’d received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The little fighter fought through Christmas, but we lost her at the end of February 2012. There is a hole in our hearts, and our lives will never be the same. But I feel Jade here, in my house, editing me from above.

And time passed. And hearts, while far from healed, became lonely again.

Eighteen months later, we decided it was finally time to adopt again, But this time, the found the process incredibly difficult. I wanted to feel that zing I’d felt when I met Jade the first time. None of the adorable kitten we met gave me that feeling.

Two weeks into the process, on Halloween night, I’d all but given up. Three adoptions had fallen through for various reasons, and I wasn’t that upset about any of them. Since Halloween is a time to honor the spirits of those you’ve lost, I sat with the ashes of my little cat, lit a candle, and asked for her help.

The next morning, we received a call. There was a surprise litter at the shelter, silver tabbies, 5 weeks old, already spayed. I rushed down and there they were, these two adorable babies, twin sisters. I couldn’t help myself, I took them both. We named them Jameson and Jordan, and they are my minions. They’re very straightforward cats, very social, very loving and silly. Not familiars just yet, but to me, they’re perfect.

JTcats

J.T. with Jordan and Jameson

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven critically acclaimed novels, including The Final Cut with Catherine Coulter, When Shadows Fall, Edge of Black and A Deeper Darkness. Her work has been published in over twenty countries. Her novel The Cold Room won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She lives in Nashville with her husband. Visit JTEllison.com for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or Facebook.com/JTEllison14