CALIFORNIA – Heather Ojeda, who is 42 and from San Jose, California, first met Tribble, a tabby and calico cross, at the veterinary surgery where she worked in 2000, after the feline arrived in a box.
Heather said: “One day a woman walked in holding a little cardboard box.
“She said a bunch of kids were playing with some feral kittens and when they went to put this kitten back, the mum had moved.
“She didn’t want anything to happen to her. And when I lifted the paper towel, there she was – her eyes hadn’t opened and her ears were flat down.
“I volunteered to try and feed her and I fell in love with her.”
The pair instantly bonded, and although Heather wasn’t in the market for a cat, she decided to take her home.
She stated: “I tried to find her a home, but it was a bit half-hearted, so eventually I just took her home and we hand reared her.
“My husband at the time and I didn’t have any kids – and we didn’t want any – but she was basically our child.”
“I was the first person she saw when she opened her eyes, so we were bonded. She was just the best thing that ever happened me.
“She was my first kitty and she opened my eyes to my love for cats.”
Heather and Tribble remained the very best of friends for 15-and-a-half years, with the much-loved kitty even helping Heather through a difficult divorce; Tribble was always by her side.
Heather went on to explain: “We were so tight. It sounds stupid, but she was with me all the time and would sleep with me at night.
“For me, it is hard for people to understand our bond. This was truly different.
“When my husband left me, I was not as upset as when she died. I have never had a bond like that with anybody.”
However, towards the end of 2015, Tribble began to show her age.
Heather explained: “I had to take care of her, she had a few accidents and wouldn’t eat properly.
“Finally, one day, her personality completely changed and the vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but she just stopped being herself.
“She just lay in her bed and I couldn’t get her to eat. I decided it was time to let her go.”
Sadly, on December 12th of 2015, Tribble was put down, with Heather by her side.
Heather noted: “It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.”
As she began to come to terms with her loss, Heather decided to get her favorite picture of Tribble tattooed on her right leg.
However, the day before, she remembered something she had read about adding ashes into tattoo ink and thought it could be a fitting tribute.
She stated: “I had always wanted a memorial tattoo. Tribble was like my child, and I wanted her with me every single moment.”
Back in April, Heather went to Stay True tattoo parlour in California where a small amount of Tribbles’ ashes were dipped in alcohol, just prior to being mixed with the ink, for the special tattoo.
“I felt great once I had the tattoo. In a sense, I had her back. I have tattoos all over me and some of them were really painful.
“This one didn’t hurt at all but I think I just wanted it so bad. I felt as complete as I could”, Heather went on to say.
Now, the remainder of Tribbles’ ashes sit on Heather’s desk – right alongside a photograph and her favourite toy.
Despite getting some very mixed reactions to the tatt, Heather says it has helped her get her loss.
She stated: “Most people in my life know her because she was my whole life, or almost, anyway.
“When I told my friends, most of them thought it was beautiful and really sweet, but a few people asked things like ‘is that safe and healthy?’
“Most people thought it was a very sweet and loving thing to do. I love it though. It’s a fitting tribute.”