Tomorrow I am going to lose my cat. Realization has sunk in, and I’ve been crying for days.
Last week was a bad one for her. She was throwing up, she had physically distanced herself from me. She sought no comfort, she ignored me, and many times she looked at me with no recognition as to who I was or why I was touching her. It’s like she’d developed Alzheimer’s, and it made me sick to the point of headaches and tears.
This week was worse. She fell down the stairs Monday evening and sometime between yesterday and today, she seems to have had a stroke. I don’t know if she’ll make it through the night, and I can honestly say I don’t know what in the world I am going to do without her.
This little cat has been with me through some of the darkest days of my life, she has seen me through things I never thought I’d get through. She is one of the only living beings that has known me longer than anyone else that has come into my life since. Losing her will kill an immense chunk of who I am, and yet I know that after she is buried and the crying stops (if it ever does), I will adopt again. Because I may not be “a crazy cat lady”, but I do thrive on the love and attention both given and received from these magical creatures. I raised her, and she knows me better than people who were in my life long before she came along. What does that say about people when animals see more substance than they do?!
I remember the first day I met my soon-to-be kittens. They were to be a birthday gift. Surrounded by so many animals in cages, all needing a forever home, I went straight for the kittens. I had talked about nothing, but kittens at that point for three years. Initially, a few showed interest in me, but it was mild. One kitten went right for me with his claws, as if I might harm him in some way and he needed to defend himself. That or no one had bothered to clip his nails, who knows? My best friend at the time was with me and said “Look how sweet these two are.”, and he proceeded to show me my babies.
The first was the larger of the two kittens. Grey, white, cream, and smoke colored with big golden eyes, huge ears, and paws. She was part Egyptian Mau. I said hello and gave her my hand. She sniffed at me and gave me her paw, no claws, just her paw in my hand, gentleness, and her sweet little face. I was in love. Resting behind her was her litter-mate, a tiny Tortoiseshell who would become my complete and total mini-me. She had the darkest of the Tortie colors all over, a smattering of color here and there, what some people would probably refer to as “Dilute”, but she had this amazing tail with a great big orange stripe running through the middle and bits of cinnamon shading. She had pretty grey eyes. She was unimpressed, and scared. Her sister was bigger and was the protector. She wouldn’t let anyone touch “the baby”, as we were calling her in that moment.
I had to have them, those were my exact words.
A couple had been following me from cage to cage in a very eerie way. I heard them say, in another language, “Is she taking them? If not, we only want the pretty one.” The cage was marked DOUBLE ADOPTION, everyone who had inquired about “the pretty one” was informed that you had to take them both, you couldn’t just have one. Many had walked away. I called someone over to me and said “Can I see these two please?” The couple then asks “Are you taking them?” to which everyone with me immediately responds “YES!”
Two little kittens are brought to me inside the meeting room. The sweet one immediately turns into hell on four paws. She doesn’t want to be held, she doesn’t want to be kissed, no, she doesn’t want to play, she wants to RUN. She allows me to hold her for a few seconds, and then proceeds to jump off of me around the room. I sported so many scratches from this cat throughout her life that I’m lucky my hands and feet bear not a single scar (I do have a few scars from longer, deeper scratches when I was holding her and someone scared her. It’s possible I am the only one that can still see them, but they’re definitely a part of me, a part of my life with cats.). God Bless the inventors of Neosporin.
Her tiny companion is very quiet, shy, reserved, very scared. My Mom picks her up so she can look in her eyes and says “Ok little girl, what’s wrong with you?” All of a sudden this little spitfire of a kitten looks right down at her, sticks both of her front paws into my mother’s mouth, and gives her the perfect expression that says “I don’t know lady, what’s wrong with you?!” That spark of fiery personality let us know that she was shy & healthy, and we would soon learn she had the biggest mind of her own.
I’d made my choice, and the second they were moved into a “holding cage” (#26, the same day as my birthday) I KNEW there was no way they weren’t going home with me. I knew they were mine. It took several hours for the adoption to be approved (North Shore Animal League is no joke, they call ALL of your references to make sure they’re not handing an animal over to someone that shouldn’t have a pet. I was lucky they didn’t ask for a DNA sample.), but once the approval came through, I was given two kittens in a traveling box, a huge supply of the Iams diet they’d been eating since arriving at NSAL, and I was also given the opportunity to bring them back to have them spayed free of charge as part of the adoption fee (They were both spayed several months later at my local vet.).
Their first night home was a bit much. After several hours in the car, they were ready to be let free to run, to play, & go to the bathroom. I decided to keep them confined to one room in my apartment since they were so small and gradually let them into the other rooms as they got a little older. Being kittens, they jumped over the gate I put up countless times in their efforts to explore. They didn’t like to be confined in any way, they both thrived on freedom. Once they were no longer tiny and in danger of serious trouble, they had free reign of their home.
I’d spend countless hours throwing bouncy rubber balls against my closet door which they would then chase all over the room since the hard wood floors allowed them to really get into this game. As they got older they took to bringing the balls to me whenever they wanted to play. I’d wake up sometimes and there would be three balls in bed with me. Once they tired out, they’d settle into their cat beds or my bed and sleep for what seemed like very short periods of time back in those days. They weren’t big meal eaters, they both grazed, so I always left food and fresh water out for them.
After a few months I tossed their cat beds (The oldest had decided they were better litter boxes than cat beds! I’m not sure why she disliked it so much, but I think it was the simple fact that as she got older, she got more territorial Gone were the days of two kittens sleeping together and showing each other so much affection.) and they slept with me. One at my head, one at the foot of the bed. These positions didn’t change much from kitten-hood into adult hood, but they did switch places at times for territorial reasons.
They were both extremely unique in personality. The oldest kitten had to meet everyone and be social and loving, but my mini-me decided that she only loved me. By “loved me”, I mean she was downright obsessed with my comings and goings, followed me everywhere, and had to be with me no matter what. I’m pretty sure that when she decided I was going to be her person when she was about 5 months old that she had someone install some kind of kitty Lojack on me when I was sleeping and unaware. This should be helpful for future cats that may find they need a tracking device on their new Mommy.
In May of 2008 I lost my part Mau little girl when she threw a clot and died in my arms. My mother died two weeks later. It was an awful year, truly. Now here I am in the beginning of another year, a year that was supposed to be better, and I am losing another baby.
Tomorrow I will put my beloved little girl to sleep. I didn’t want to have to make this choice, but I cannot allow her to suffer for a single moment longer than necessary. This week has torn me apart.
I was asked this morning if I wanted one of the other vets to handle this (Believe it or not, I’ve never met any of the other three vets that work there.), and I said no, that I cannot do this without my vet. That might seem silly, it might even seem selfish, but this woman has cared for my macaroon since I moved here in 2009. She has been kind, attentive, loving, compassionate, caring, real, and it was her diagnosis that saved my cat in May of 2009. That diagnosis and the subsequent treatment have kept her alive ever since. Many times she would say to her “You love your Mommy very much, I can see that.”, and she’d always hold her and kiss her like she was one of her own. How can you not love a vet that good? Believe me, they are rare.
I once got into a massive fight with a vet. He was a moron, and my reaction was to put him in his place. I’m a little over 5.3 ½”, and this guy was a good 6.8″ or so. The more I talked, the further he backed away from me, until he was hitting the rear door. I can see he wants to argue with me, but he wasn’t going to win, not that day. The way he kept moving away from me was hilarious. It got to the point where my brother said “If you’re going to hit him, I’ll be outside.” I apologized to this guy’s boss the following day and he said “Don’t apologize, how else is he going to learn?!” Finding a good vet is definitely a priceless thing.
Last night I was reminded that I have given this cat a life so full of love. My brother said to me “I have never seen anyone be a better cat mother than you. You are nurturing, committed, devoted, she has never gone without love and the things she needs. You’ve gone above and beyond, she adores you, that little cat just plain worships you. Don’t ever think you haven’t done enough.”
Sometimes we need to hear things like this from the casual observer, especially when we don’t think that person is really paying attention to anything.
In closing, I know I will get through this. I will cry, I will hurt, I will mourn, and I will rise up out of the ashes once again like the phoenix that I am.
My little girl will be in the backyard in a spot the sun always gets. She has always loved laying in the sun and whenever she did, our eyes would be the exact same shade of green.
Keep me in your prayers tomorrow. I will need it.
UPDATE: My little girl passed away tonight as I slept by her side. At about 7:40 PM or so I told her to stop holding on for me, because she was suffering. I told her to follow the light, that my Mom and her sister would be waiting for her. I fell asleep holding her paw, and sometime between then and waking up at 11:00-11:30 PM to check on her, she had passed away. I’m devastated, but I will eventually be ok.