Momi – A Beautiful Hawaiian Pearl

Momi, a cat of many colors.

Momi was a very special cat who obviously was supposed to be in my life for the length of time I had her and no more. I wanted to keep her forever. She was the sweetest most loving kitty I had ever had and I have been a cat lover all my life. Momi was a jungle kitty here in Hawaii, of which there are many. She was spotted carrying a baby across the street. They watched where she took that little one. My friend who spotted her, took it as his task to help her because she was so very skinny and had a baby to care for. With time he slowly coaxed her into eating some of the food put out for her. They
welcomed Momi into their household, giving her the Hawaiian name for pearl. She was a long haired light colored calico with the sweetest little face and the most unique markings. A cat of many colors. She took beautiful care of her spectacular coat and it was our pleasure when “brush time” came around. I loved to brush her and she could never get enough of it. She especially loved it on her head, so funny, where there is the least hair!

Our last cat was in 2007, 14 years ago. My husband and I had moved onto our boat and relocated to Juneau where I took a state job. The little cat Scotty decided he was not going to tolerate boat living and took off. We never knew what happened to him but hoped that he chose a super new family that loved him as we had. He had chosen us when he was just a baby. There were too many cats and kids where he was born and he found his way to our doorstep and claimed us. Keith and I promised each other that we wouldn’t get another cat until we lived on land full time again. That time never came for Keith and I as he died in 2015. I came to Hawaii and have been a house sitter/pet sitter for other people and could not have a pet when I didn’t even have a place to call my own.

The fall of 2020 I rented this sweet ohana down near the ocean. The rental agreement provided for pets with approval. I told the landlord that if I got anything, I would want a cat. Both her and her husband are cat lovers, having a couple on the mainland. They were here in Hawaii doing some improvements on their property and got stuck with the covid situation. That fall, 2020, Momi came to live on this land. The landlord is friends with the people who rescued Momi from the starving in the jungle. With Momi, they now had three cats and Momi had started fighting with the other two. They were going to have to re-home her. The landlords, missing their own cat, asked if I would take the cat when they went back to the mainland if they brought it home. I agreed. I had thought I would get a kitten initially as they are so much fun but an opportunity to love a mature cat had presented itself and it felt totally right.

Momi was very loved and very spoiled by the landlords husband. They are both in the tech world and work from home. He had created a space for Momi to sit right on the desk beside him during the day. She was very attached to him. They finished their work on the property and decided to go back to the mainland in January of 2021. Momi had had very little to do with me, even though she saw me around. She had never been down around my place to visit, other than on her own at night maybe.

Momi My Hawaiian Pearl
My Beautiful Unconditional Love Machine, Momi

I started the process of getting to know her and building trust. Food is always the key for jungle kitties. Slowly she started trusting me. It was almost like she knew that she needed to move from the big house, with the landlords, down to the Ohana, with me. It took us three weeks to a month to become friends. When the landlords took a couple day staycation on the other side of the island before they went to the mainland, she adjusted to getting her food here. The day the landlords pulled out of the driveway, heading to the airport, she knew. She let out a howl, as she sat there in the driveway, that was heartbreaking, as she watched her latest people drive away. Because she was officially now my kitty, I brought her down to my house and started the process of pouring my love into her.

I was so blessed by the love she gave in return. She was an unconditional love machine. It’s the routines with our pets that make it so damn difficult when they are gone. Most humans want and thrive on routines. Our fur babies provide that. One of my routines was to get up and head out for a walk first off. She would be sitting at the edge of the driveway waiting for my return. I would then sit down in my hammock and we would have a brushing session. I haven’t been able to get back into the routine of my morning walks yet. It is hard enough to have to come home to an empty house in the regular routine of life. She had a couple of regular places she would sit and wait for me to come home.

New people moved into the big house, bringing with them two older cats. Momi had seen that the big house was empty when the landlords left. We had about three weeks before the new people got here. I had told her that the big house was no longer her domain. There would be other kitties living there that were inside cats only. She could not sit on the lanai and look in at them. The lanai is theirs not hers. She had her own to hang out on. She seemed to understand but also tested that rule as she saw fit. The new people were careful not to encourage Momi, keeping distance which represented that she belonged to someone else. It is interesting how we do that with pets. As I wrote that, I realized I had done that with Momi prior to her becoming mine, and in other situations in my life like with Sushi and Miss Norma.

The neighbors fed Momi for me on the few occasions that I would be gone, and of course being cat people, started falling in love with this sweet cat. The fall of 2021, I mentioned to the husband that I hoped he realized he had an outside cat too. Momi had demanded in her sweet cat like way, that we people understand that the aina (land) is hers. It was like she was the boss of this property. She knew who was there and what they were doing. When I wasn’t home, she would walk the rail on the neighbors deck and peek in at them. A peeping Momi. Will you come pet me? They resisted but I’m sure sent her loving thoughts. They were now her Aunt and Uncle.

Peeping Cat Momi
Momi, the peeping cat. Will you come pet me?

Momi was always very close to me when I was at home. If I was sitting at my desk, she was on the footstool next to me. If I was on the couch she was either next to me or on the back of the couch. One of our morning routines was to dance. When I turned the music on, she would come from wherever she had been sleeping and sit in the middle of my dancing space. As I would dance around her I would dip and stroke her then twirl around her again. She loved that “game” and she helped bring joy back into my life.

This is a tribute to Momi, as I walked that sweet girl across the Rainbow Bridge December 16, 2021. She had gone missing several weeks before and was gone for about a week. I and the neighbors had combed the neighborhood looking and calling for her. I had posted signs, contacted the humane society, posted on various Facebook missing pet pages. All to no avail. After being gone a week, she came home with a puncture wound on her back that looked to be healing. She also had a tender spot under her belly.

I kept a close eye on her as I could not get her into the vet. She had come back Thanksgiving weekend. The vet she had been taken to before wasn’t open for the weekend. When I called the following Monday I found out that the vet was out of town till the first of December. The next day Momi went missing again. This time she was gone for a couple of days. The neighbors in the big house found her while I was on my way home from work, in crisis under the house. The wound on her back was infected and oozing. They got her into a carrier to keep her secure and we started calling every veterinarian in the Hilo and Puna area of Hawaii. NONE of them could see her for a month out because she was a new client. The neighbors were also on their phones calling and trying to get her in. At one point the husband told the person on the phone, “She won’t last that long, what are we supposed to do, watch this little cat die?” The response was that they might be able to get her in as an emergency and would get back with us. The neighbors called their vet and claimed her as theirs in order to get her in. What we found out was the puncture wound had gotten infected, caused a mass which is why her tummy was tender. The vet drained it, packed it and sent her home with antibiotics.

I had lived in the bush of Alaska for 30 years. When we had a pet, if there was a problem, nature would take its course. Keith would put the animal down if necessary in a quick and humane manor rather than letting them suffer. My only experience with veterinarians was sending kitties by floatplane into our amazing local vet to get fixed. So this was a whole new experience for me. I did not have a budget item for vet bills and had sticker shock at first when the vet told me what the bill would be to take care of Momi. I was able to cover it but it was a $300 expense I had been expecting. Small price to pay to help my sweet Momi though.

We finished the week of antibiotics and she appeared to be feeling better. One day while I was at work and she was locked in the house, she pulled her stitches. The next day was the vet appointed followup. The vet felt she was doing good and I brought her home and unlocked her kitty door. Things were not quite back to normal. I thought she was still in healing mode. What I didn’t know is she also had a lung issue developing. She started hiding in a spot out in the carport. It was a good spot but I could feel things were not right. After a couple days of bringing her in at night, one day about noon I instinctively went to get her and could tell she was having trouble breathing.

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The whole experience of knowing what I had to do, then doing it, was a nightmare that broke my heart. I rushed Momi into the vet. I had been told when I checked in that the vet would be back in about an hour and I should wait in my car with her. The neighbor followed in her car as soon as she was free. She had more experience with cats at vets. When she saw the shape Momi was in she took a video and took it in to see if they could help her sooner. A technician came right out and took her in to make her more comfortable. When the vet got back and had assessed her, they called us in. The vet explained that she could take a chest X-ray and possibly determine more but more testing would probably need to be done and it would still come down to the same thing. The best thing was to let her go. The Vet left the neighbor and I to talk about it and decide. It was an easy and a brutally hard decision, based on love and a desire for no more suffering. The vet came in and gave her a shot to calm and relax her.

I didn’t know what to do next. My sweet neighbor brought Momi out of her carrier and down onto the floor where she could sit beside her, pet her, and tell her how beautiful, wonderful, and loved she is and how much we will all miss her. Then she had me get down with Momi and spend the time I needed to say good bye. Oh my gosh, my face is wet with tears as I write this. It is a good thing I know where the keys are under my fingers. My sweet Momi. I didn’t realize until then, that walking a pet home is not much different than walking a friend or a family member home, of which I’ve done several times. However it is different in that they were our forever unconditional love machines and it is so damn hard to let them go. Let them go with love. Be there with them.

I love you Momi and feel your Spirt with me. Thank you Sweet Baby Kitty, My Sweet Momi.