Sylvestra AKA Sylvestrina Petunia Petunia Petunia
Animal Stories from


Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages
August 2018

Sylvestrina was the sweetest cat ever – made out of spun sugar.

Cats Sylvestra and Tabitha
Sylvestra had the cutest tail that turned back on itself.

I said goodbye to my little Sylvestra yesterday. Poor baby was suffering from severe heart and kidney failure and was having trouble breathing. I would like to honor her here. She was 16 years old – a beautiful tuxedo black and white little cat.

Cat Sylvestra

Cat Sylvestra

Sylvestra came through the basement window of my high-rise apartment building in Manhattan 15 years ago. I took her in with the intention of finding her a home. She was semi feral and I had to put her in a large cage. But one thing led to another and I fell in love. I thought this little black and white cat was a male – she looked so much like my cat SnagglePuss who had died several years before. So I called her Sylvester. But soon enough I learned she was a little girl and my friend Debby suggested Sylvestra. It stuck.

The weird thing about her arriving is that sometime before - not even a year, I acquired a print of a black and white tuxedo cat. I am not sure why I bought it but it called out to me. And then months later, she came into my life.

I also called her Sylvestrina Petunia Petunia Petunia – and sang the Tickle song to her with made-up rhyming words that she seemed to love as I would pick her up and rub her belly. This is how it began – “tickle, tickle, tickle, Sylvestra had a nickel. She rode her motorsickle up the street to buy a pickle; (and so on)” We had fun.

Sylvestrina was the sweetest cat ever – made out of spun sugar. She loved other cats and was so gentle with everyone. My Oliver died in 2015 and he gave her a hard time - she was 6 pounds to his 12. He would chase her into corners. But after that, it was bittersweet because Sylvestra found her own and would come out and play and greet people. She became confident. Her cat sitter, Beverly, said it was “Sylvestra Time.” I am glad she had these three years to blossom.

When Sylvestra’s pal Auntie Minnie died several years ago, there was only Oliver so I decided to get a cat for Sylvestra. It was the first time ever that I had to choose a cat (they had always found me) and I adopted Tabitha from City Critters. Although Sylvestra loved Tabitha, Tabitha was the alpha cat and just tolerated her. Still, Sylvestra was not afraid and continued to blossom. And sometimes they even chased each other around the apartment.

One of my favorite recent Sylvestra stories happened a few years ago. She needed to have extensive dental work (resorption) and I brought her into the vet’s office in the early morning after having her fast since the night before. Unfortunately, they did not take her until later in the day . When I went to pick her up, she was groggy and swaddled in a towel. The vet said to put her in a warm place and let her rest and not feed her for a while. Well – Sylvestra was having none of that. As soon as I got her home, she tore off the towel and made a beeline for the food bowl and did not come up for air for 10 minutes. She was starved. She finally raised her head with food all over her face. So cute. I did not have the heart to remove the food. Luckily she did not throw up.

As she began to get sick, she still liked to come out on the terrace with me and sit on my lap – something I cherished. She also would come out into the hall when I got home – walking up and down exploring, turning over on her back, rubbing herself on the carpet and letting me rub her belly. This was when I saw that while she still loved this activity, she had very labored breathing. Very very upsetting but I pretty much knew it was time.

So now it is just me and Tabitha, trying to find our way as family dynamics change. My heart has a big hole and I miss my little girl so much.

Silhouette Cat Sylvestra

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