The Queen of Cheek (2006 to 2020)

I’d like to tell you a story.

Just about 14 years ago at a BBQ at the US embassy compound, we met a darling little bundle of fur. I say ‘met’, when really she chose us as she stepped out from amongst her litter mates towards The Cuban and I. You cannot image how impossibly tiny she was, nor how utterly adorable all whiskers and fluffy kitten fur. That day, the three of us—this tiny kitten, my husband and I—made a pact, one which we could not envision being more synchronised nor more loving than it has since remained.

This tiny kitten became known as Cheeky Che Fufu, The Princess of Darkness. In those initial days when she became a central member in our family, she proved to be the cheekiest of cats, capable of being a little shit whilst also insanely endearing and lovable. From wiping out on my desk head-first into a very full cup of coffee which went e v e r y w h e r e and took ages to clean up, to her nightly habit of turbo kitty-ing around our tiny Zelenograd flat in the outskirts of Moscow, to sitting outside our bedroom door crying in the most mournful way until one of us (read: me) would crawl out of bed, open the door and allow her to nestle in with us as she purred loudly and happily and drifted off to sleep, to being utterly obsessed with my toes, many of those habits endured until very recently despite two countries and four homes later. She was queenly even as a kitten, and quickly gained loyal subjects to dote upon and worship her. We imagine she had some sort of connections to the Egyptian cats from centuries past given her ability to rule whatever room she entered.

She loved bird watching, but only from inside her home or the safety of her balcony. She loved very cold water, best delivered via the tap from the bathroom sink or via a tiny syringe leftover from some weird illness that remained unexplained. She loved pooing and digging FOR-EV-ER despite the cleanest of litter boxes, and then rocketing out of it to tear around her home leaving a trail of tiny little bits of litter all over the place, which I swear will never disappear. She loved butter, served on a plastic spoon intended for tiny toddlers. She loved licking yogurt containers. She loved her brush, but only once a day. She loved greeting us as we returned home, even if we were gone but a short while. She loved temptations. Of all sorts. She loved Pollito, who only joined us recently, but complemented her stateliness with his own clownish antics. And, she loved us, individually, showing us both in ways unique to her and to each of us.

And, good grief we love her. Still. Always.

In the end, kitty breast cancer proved too powerful a force to hold off forever. We used to joke about cloning her. Now we know that there can be only and precisely one Cheeky Che Fufu. And, what a mighty hole she has left in our hearts today.

We must extend our thanks to all those who loved this most amazing feline. And, we know there are many of you out there. To give you an idea of just how incredible this precious girl was, the vets’ office was utterly silent as we left this afternoon.

So, here’s to the Queen of Cheek. Long may her memory reign.

Day 26: Proekt 365 (She hoo shall be named ‘Cheek’)

Day 26: Proekt 365 Owl? Or Queen of Cheek?

Day 26: Proekt 365
Owl? Or Queen of Cheek?

Today, I was quite fortunate to have been graced by the Queen of Cheek honouring me by settling on my lap for all of 15 minutes. Does she do so looking sweet and thoroughly cat-like? Does she curl up in a little ball and wrap her tail around her head? Nope. She comes wearing her owl face.

Oh, Che Fufu. I keep expecting you to hoot.

The affections of my cat come when she wants to give them. Yes, I know. If I wanted unconditional and constant affection, I should’ve gotten a dog. But, you see…Che Fufu is my cat, but my husband’s dog.

When I call her, she looks at me as if I were an annoying mosquito or puppy that jumps and keeps inviting her to play, with an expression that says, ‘You must be kidding, human’. Yet, my husband calls her, and she runs and leaps over furniture to get to him as fast as her little legs will carry her and flies through the air with much grace and ease.

I’ll take what I can get and enjoy her attention when she gives it. The remainder of the time we have an understanding: I, human with opposable thumbs, will feed her, clean her littler box, clean up her hair, hairballs and stray bits of litter that are constantly tracked through the house and play and pet her when she wishes; she, cat with a mind utterly her own, will grace me with affection at her own pace, when she wishes and will also leave signs of her love in the form of hairballs and bits of stray litter everywhere.

But, isn’t she lovely?