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A Tribute to My Baby Anika, our life together…and her friends…

On 12/26/16 I had to make the hardest decision of my life, and allow my 21 year old baby Anika to be released from her aching body.

It was a beautiful way for her to go: warm, safe at home with her buddy Amma, my friend Jaime and me holding her and giving her Reiki as she took her last breath.

Last picture of Anika and Amma an hour before Anika’s transition.

Anika was such a strong spirit…she literally was playing up to the last few minutes of her life…her powerful soul has been one of the greatest healers and teachers I have ever known in my life.

This is the last picture of them together, a couple hours before Anika was released. For the whole decade they have been living together, Amma would always walk over to Anika to groom her face for just long enough until Anika was over it and she would swat Amma away.

This day, Amma came over to Anika and groomed her face for at least 10 minutes straight, and Anika let her…this I knew, was their goodbye.

I spent most of December mourning the loss of my baby before she even passed.

I was just waiting for her to show me that she was ready to go. I held her and cried and gave her Reiki so much that towards the end, she started to lick my tears, and gently pat my face as if to say, “Stop this already, I’m not REALLY going away…just out of this body.”

I always knew how to speak to her…and how to hear her.

She was the first cat I can really say that about. I have always been close to my cats, but something happens when a cat is with you for just under 2 decades…they literally become more human than cat…or perhaps I just became more feline, and we alchemically balanced. Whatever it was our connection was soul deep. It went far beyond cat to human.

Anika always had a huge spirit, even when I first met her in 1998.

First Picture of Anika when she came to live with me in 1999

I was fresh from the fire, and just starting on my new life of working in the M-F 9-5pm world of the Media Industry.

This was very different from where I came from; a past of always working closing shifts in retail, living in a huge party house, drinking the nights away watching live bands and finally being literally thrown out of that life by the fire and spit out into adulthood.

Being a 23 year old ex night owl who was now into the 9-5 world was brutal, to say the least…especially adding in an hour and a half commute each way from Altadena to Santa Monica everyday.

A day for me looked like getting at at 7am to be on the road by 7:45 and sometimes not getting home until 9pm…soul sucking to say the least.

I decided that I needed to do something during my lunches that took me away from the grind and stress all around me, and I would walk over to a cat shelter that was a few blocks away from where I worked and pet kitties.

This was a no kill shelter, and they had rooms of cats free from cages, and they were able to run around the rooms, sit on furniture and play with people who visited.

I remember the moment I knew Anika had chosen me.

I had been coming weekly for a few months, and playing with all the kitties there, and she hung back a bit, checking me out, I am sure.

She was probably 2 or 3 years old, and she was put in the shelter a year earlier with a litter of kittens. All the kittens were taken, but Anika was not. She was waiting for me.

I had just recently lost my kitty Lydia who disappeared into the night, and I decided I was ready to actually choose one of the kitties I had been playing with.

I already had Vlad, a huge black panther, so I wanted to keep the streak of awesome Tabbies I have had since childhood, so into the room where a few Tabbies were laying about I went. This is when Anika knew it was time to come into my life.

Instead of hanging back as she usually did, she chose the day that I walked in there ready to adopt to literally walk up to me as I was playing with another cat and grab my skirt and meow at me. I literally remember the first time I really looked into her eyes, and I knew it was she who chose me, and I was defenseless to her soulful eyes.

Anika and Vlad in their drawer

Anika was there for me through the healing I was still doing from the fire. I was able to walk and work, but my emotions were still raw, and I was still going through some PTSD nightmares and depression.

Seeing her beautiful face and hearing her purrs at night really got me through that hard transition.

Vlad was a senior cat who I saved from living in a friend’s bathroom. His long time owner died, and my friend was trying to find a home for him. My time with Vlad was not very long. He was about 13 when I got him, but I got to love him and take care of him until he had Kidney Failure at age 19. For those 6 years, we were an amazing team and he was my little love panther.

As Vlad got skinnier and skinnier and started needing fluid shots more often, I told him to let me know when he was ready, and he did by going into convulsions, so I had to make that horrible decision to have him put to sleep on the very same day as my then band’s record release party.

I couldn’t stand watching my baby have another one of those horrible episodes.

I remember telling Anika that Vlad would be leaving us, and she went over to him during his convulsion and head butted him and laid with him until it stopped. She was always such a healer.

I had Vlad put to sleep that morning, cried with Anika in my bed for most of the day, and in the evening got up out of bed, put on my corset and makeup and played a record release show.

I had booked the show, and it was all my friends’ bands who had also met Vlad, so I had an altar for him with flowers, a picture of him, candles and incense going for the whole night. Every band rose a toast to him and played songs for him. Shots of booze were done for him. It was more than just a record release show, it became the cat release show too!

At this point, it was now just Anika and I…and she seemed fine with it, although I could tell she was a little less playful and I felt bad for her, because I was gone so much with my stupid commute to West LA.

Around this time I was really changing as a person.

Anika had seen the rockstar me, and late night visitors, parties until all hours after shows and loved everyone who walked in the house. She was always such a love bug and never afraid of commotion, and in my mid to late 20’s…there was lot’s of commotion in my little house!

I had many nicknames for Anika, and I remember distinctly when her name Ani-Bear came to be. It was during one of the huge courtyard parties we would have where a band was playing, and there were hundreds of people milling through the houses. A complete stranger was in my house, and she was playing with Anika who was sprawled out on my couch like the party of the century was not even happening all around her.

The girl kept calling her a kitty bear, because she was like a big teddy bear.

I don’t remember who that girl was or if I ever even knew her name, but the bear part stuck, and Anika then became Ani-Bear, and would remain that for 15 years to come.