Can I write this one?
This is hard.
He was 19 years old and in cat years, that is almost 100.
He had lost half his body weight to an over active thyroid which not only stole pounds, it stole muscle from his legs and created an ominous heart murmur.
His kidneys were failing.
He was on daily medication.
He still jumped on the counter each morning, awaiting his breakfast of cat food and a spoonful of whipped topping.
He still found my three day a week morning paper irresistible as a seat from which to gaze into my eyes asking for yummies which we kept in a cupboard nearby for just such occasions.
He still slept by my side, cuddling so close that I sometimes had to hang on to the side of the bed.
He loved sitting in the kitchen window and watching whatever it is that cats watch, no longer irritated by other mammals or the birds at the feeders. Even the other cats who find out yard irresistible passed by now without his comment.
The corner of the sofa in the living room was one of his favorite places.
It is also my favorite place to sit and read. He would decidedly tell me to move by jumping on the sofa and putting his paw behind me and pushing…“It’s my turn.”
At least that is what I thought it meant and in my knowing, I would move for him…of course I would move for him.
The house was his whole world.
The knowing made me come home as soon as I could from where ever I was, to be greeted at the door with his presence.
He always looked behind me as I returned, seeking, we think the company of my spouse whose love for this cat was a great as mine.
He was empathetic, staying by your side or in your lap when you weren’t feeling well, for whatever reason whether the pain was psychological or physical.
He was funny, well, funny may not be the best adjective, but he would sometimes decide to play in the middle of the night.
There is nothing like being attacked by your cat while you are asleep. That gets your attention. And, yes sometimes I would laugh. Most times I wouldn’t. But I would never get angry.
He was like most cats a picky eater, madly in love with a particular cat food one day and absolutely disdainful on the next.
His gourmet preference though was generic Walmart brand whipped topping. I have no idea why.
He was as are all cats, full of mystery.
His sensate feline world was much bigger than mine
I always thought that he knew more about the world than I did, except for that thing that I knew and he didn’t.
We made adjustments for him.
We moved the stools in the kitchen so that he didn’t have to jump as high to get to the counter or the window sill. We let the water drip in the tub so that he could have fresh water whenever he needed it.
We put extra padding in his beds to accommodate his visibly arthritic movements. I made outings as short as possible so as to get home to him…just in case.
I was home when that which I knew would come, came.
Last Friday close to midnight, something happened to Kiki that made it impossible for him to stand or walk. Did he fall from the counter in the kitchen? He couldn’t even lie down on his stomach.
Something was affecting the transmission of nerve impulses to his back legs.
Dr. Megan Williams opened her office on Sunday for us. The exam had no firm answer. He wasn’t in pain, there didn’t seem to be any broken bones. No observable pain or injury.
We tried a cortisone shot, thinking that it might be inflammation of the spinal cord. That night my husband and I made a bed out of an old mattress pad and put our injured boy between us hoping for the best the nest morning.
The best didn’t come, rather he lost more ability to even raise up on his front legs. But, he tried, he tried so hard to get up.
It was heartbreaking. Finally, exhausted, he slept.
He refused water.
What I had feared was now here.
Could we find ways to minister to his disabilities which were great. Was he in pain? I helped him into the litter box, cleaned his matted fur, combed his back gently, whispered that I would take care of him, that I loved him.
In tears we called the veterinarian.
She came and gently, compassionately, we sent Kiki home.
It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done and yet…at least I hope…one of the kindest.
When a person passes, you negotiate loss in so many ways.
There are cultural ways to move through the grief and pain. Funerals, inheritances, eulogies, etc.
When a companion animal, and there must be a better descriptive word or words, even “pet” pales in significance. When that presence dies, there are few ways to honor them and the powerful attachments we have.
We loved our Kiki
Not some little halfhearted love but full on love.
He gave us so much, an innocent, unconditional love.
I walk through the day, through the house remembering how he followed me down the steps one step in front of me;, how he waited with a meow chorus as a reminder, to get his breakfast.
I remember all of his sleeping places on every bed, the sofa and chairs and the grandchildren’s pinball machine in the basement.
I remember his cuddling every evening while I watched television and his rapt attention to the cat videos I would play for him on my lap top or tablet. I can see him waiting for me at the side door.
How he loved to get a back rub, how sitting in front of the open living room window captivated him. I could go on for pages, but emotion is a poor filter.
I expect him to come into this room and walk over the computer to get to the window. But no! Now there are only memories’ tears.
He left little behind. A few toys, a litter box, his bowl and dish….and he left so much more.
In a world where materialism reigns, the transcendent love of our adopted “little boy” is a powerful counterpoint.
That deserves all the words I can summon.
I miss you my Kiki, the Keek, my little boy.
Oh, how I want to believe that he is waiting for me somewhere…
This is hard.