Our Princess Rotunda
painting of Rotunda Some lessons I learned from Rotunda:

Dignity is a state of mind.

When you want something, ask for it nicely.

Never reveal your weight!
Photo of Rotunda "This is our princess Rotunda. When she tiptoes, the floor shakes like thunder.
We attempted a diet, but she wouldn't try it. How much more can her skin stretch, I wonder?"

Rotunda appeared in our back yard early one morning, howling pitifully beneath our bedroom window. She was just a tiny kitten, not even three months old, but she had already decided where she belonged. None of our neighbors claimed her or seemed to know anything about her, and we used to tease her, telling her she'd been dropped off by aliens. She had a body like an accordion bus. Her back end was on a two-second time delay, never quite in synch with where her front end was headed. She rocked back and forth like a wave when she walked, and her navigation was further hampered by her unusually short legs, long body, and massive bulk.

Tunda's size was a mystery. Even at the age of four months she was huge, and despite the fact that she never really had a big appetite and preferred picking at small meals, she continued to expand. We were never able to determine her exact weight, because she refused to come within ten feet of even the most well-disguised weights and measures device. I once stepped onto the bathroom scale with my arms around her, but she was not to be fooled. She threw a tantrum, retracted her head almost totally into her body like a tortoise, and thrashed about so wildly that I was unable to read the result. Her weight was HER business and no one else's! Our vet was never successful in this endeavor, either, and he finally settled for a rough estimate of 21 pounds. Now 21 pounds is not that heavy - I've known larger felines - but with Rotunda's short little legs and long full coat of fur, she resembled a long-haired watermelon undulating across the floor.

Rotunda was a cat of many nicknames ("Thunder Buns," "Robusta," "Tonnage," etc.) and she answered sweetly to all of them, but I think her personal favorite was "Living Giant." She endured it all with dignity and humor, in the spirit in which it was offered, and seemed to understand that we were laughing with her, not at her. After all, no one would dare insult the princess! Rotunda had a wonderful sense of humor and definitely knew how much she was loved.

Tunda passed away at age sixteen from kidney failure. She died as she lived - with dignity. Sometimes when the house is very quiet, I can still hear the sound of her little toenails clicking across the hardwood floors. She was a wonderful companion and a special enrichment to our lives, and she is much missed.


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All images © Alison Whalen