Saturday, September 11, 2010


This post is for me and not particularly of interest if you are not me.

On July 19th, we had to part ways with kitty. The night before that was one of the worst of my life. It's both a blessing and a curse that she went relatively quickly-- she only seemed unwell for maybe a week, but we were still in shock when we had to say goodbye.

It's been about two months, and I still sometimes think she's going to greet me when I come home. I still have to fight urge to meow into the hall to say hello when I open the door. Every part of the house and garden is a place where I remember her habits. She was huge in our life, always nearby, and never in the background like most cats.
"Let's take our coffee into the yard."
"OK, shall I grab the cat, or you?"

She suited Paul perfectly and I worried terribly about him when we lost her.

Everywhere in the house seems to miss her, that sunspot she used to sit in, that stairway of boxes we arranged so she could reach the window, the place she used to sleep in the hall when we were at opposite end of the house.

The way she insisted on coming into the bathroom in the morning to sit while I took a shower, and then demanded to leave while I got ready. At the last house, she'd had a habit of jumping into the bathtub after the shower was turned off.

The way she would always want to sit in between us on the couch-- a mean spirited and jealous cat!

The way she used to sit up on the counter at the old place and swat at the shadows of the birds at the feeder, getting her claws stuck in the curtain.

The way she would yell and bang on the door if Paul went into the front bathroom with her locked out.

In the winter, she would sit by the fire on the floor with us, purring, in a very cat-like state of sweet coziness.

The way she would get your attention and then get you to follow her down the hallway to a certain spot in the kitchen "Let me show you my food bowl!"

The way she'd fight me for my spot at the table-- at the old house she would literally hop into my chair if I got up. At this house, she would just stake a claim under the chair before I got there.

The way she'd sit in my lap if I sat in the reclining chair in the study. This was a cat who never sat in anyone's lap besides Paul. Something about that chair.

The way she'd occasionally get a wild hair up her ass and tear up and down the hallway yowling. This didn't happen as much in the end, presumably because she couldn't run that well with three legs.

She caught a snail once in the backyard of the house we live in now, which must have been a fine moment, since she'd not been much of a hunter for years.

The way she used to love to curl up in the closet of my sewing room on some pile of cordura, which was her favorite material.

The way she would come yelling down the hall when I came home and follow me into the bedroom while I put my stuff down so I could properly pet her up on my return. For a cat that pretended to be standoffish most of the time, she was always pretty excited to see me return. Which lasted for minutes before she went right back to hating me.

Once, we had cut out some crayon and paper antlers and stuck them to her head before walking to dinner when Paul lived in Berkeley; we came home to the adorable sight of the silhouette of a reindeer-cat waiting for us in the window.

When Paul lived in Berkeley, the three of us would spend a lot of time in the garage. She loved to explore all the shelves and stacks of junk, and sometimes get stuck there and require rescue.

The way she would spread out over the night, cramming Paul and I into maybe half of the bed while she got the rest.

The way she'd sit in the yard with us while we drank our coffee, protesting loudly when the spot she'd chosen in the sun made her too hot.

And on and on... this post is for me, and I may add to it later.

In the end, here is what happened:
After a long time of monitoring and treatment, her kidneys finally failed. Kidney failure is very common in older cats. At the same time, however, she also had a large growth, a tumor, that was blocking her colon basically, which we found out about only on her last night. Together these things were not treatable, and I'm only thankful that this turn for the worse seemed to be only the last week of her life. It was painful to see her suffer, but I think it was not terribly long.

I know some people will wonder if this has to do with the carcinoma she had last year, and do we regret drawing it out. First: no, it is not from her carcinoma, and second, no, I do not in any way regret the decision we made to amputate to stop the bone cancer. After recovery, she was basically back to her old self, and the time we got with her was good for all of us-- she was a happy cat (in her own mean-spirited, bitter old lady kind of way) and I do believe that the kidney disease and tumor in her gut were not related. Anyone facing feline carcinoma should trust their vet in that a cat can recover and be very happy for many years with only three legs. (which is still one more leg than I have!)

The cat was overly central to our daily life. I guess some people just have cats as background noise, but we pretty much considered her in every part of our day, and miss her terribly. Some people have made pretty insensitive comments about her being gone, and I'm just going to say that you don't replace a cat any more than you replace a family member. I won't offer to get you a new mom or son or spouse to replace the one that just passed, as though you ran out of toilet paper and I know where you can get some more for a good price. You may have had your ups and downs but losing a family member is not a joke. Making a decision to put a pet down, and then living through one last painful night together, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Of course, the reality of loving anyone is that some day you will have to say goodbye. But it is always too soon to say goodbye.

From 2005.04.09 Seattle

From 2005.04.09 Seattle

From 2005.04.09 Seattle

From 2006

From 2006

From 2008

From 2007

From 2008

From 2009

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