I got this in an email from a dear friend and it struck me as being one of the funnier things I’ve read in a very long time – funny in description and tone if not in subject matter:
I like cats. Really like the ambience a litter box lends to the home. Actually we have had cats for almost all of our married life and so when Libby’s kitty died, I really understood. Cats are like silent confessors. You can hold a cat and feel them purr and the tension leaves somehow. Unfortunately, I have dead cat stories.
First there was Midnight – yes it was a black cat and we are not creative with names. Two weeks later we were given “Cottonball” . Guess what color she was? For 18 years we had our lovely black and white cats. They looked great, but were remarkably grouchy cats.
Midnight weighed about 22 pounds and Cottonball always looked like a cat from a shelter where there wasn’t much Kitty food. MIdnight had a bad habit of crawling into the car and sleeping right over the wheel. Usually, I remembered to look, but one day, I got all the kids into the car, started to back out when I felt a bump.
I counted the kids and realized it had to be a cat.
Midnight ran into the house and when I found him he was breathing about 150 tiimes a minute and his little kitty pulse was what they call – thready – not a good sign in humans or cats.
I rushed her up to the vet. Now, this was during the time we were spending almost every day at the children’s oncology clinic and as I came into the vets office, I was followed by my bald kid carrying her IV nutrition, my weeping son (Midnight was considered “his” cat since nobody else really liked a big fat cat on their bed) and my totally embarrassed oldest daughter. “Mom, I can’t believe you actually ran over the cat.”
The vet was kind – told me we could try some steroids and hope the collapsed lung would be ok or we could put $500. down on serious kitty surgery.
I chose the $22.00 shot and went home planning on how we would deal with cat death. Midnight did not die – he healed, remained fat, but developed a kind of chronic shortness of breath. I began to think of it as Kitty COPD . And every time he saw me – I got a look that said – “You ran over me – you b—- .”
Several years later, I found Midnight in the basement – really sick this time and we had to make the decision to put him down. We thought Cottonball would miss her friend, but the reality was that Cottonball finally got a decent meal, gained weight, and became a lovely lovely kitty. We had her another few years and then at the age of 22, Cottonball died.
We all missed having a cat. Missed it terribly. So, after a few weeks with no kitty hair anywhere, we decided to go to the local animal shelter and adopt a cat.
My daughter and I went out there and visited with all the little cats needing homes. We found a three month old gray kitty who cuddled instantly. We filled out all the forms, paid our fees and vowed to never declaw our kitty (I had my fingers crossed on that one). Adoption fees included a “spay” procedure and so we left our little cat at the shelter and we told she would be spayed in the morning and we could pick her up on Thursday. Bought a new litterbox, cushion and a couple of toys and went out to pick her her. She was – well – lethargic. I took her home and within a few hours, I knew for sure this was real illness. I called the shelter the next morning after finding our new kittie – named Ruthie – asleep in the litterbox. We took her back and the vet told us she was probably just reacting to anesthesia and a little dehydrated. She assured us we could pick her up the next day. Later in the day, the vet called. She sounded grim.
“Ruthie has parvo virus”, she said. I had heard of parvo – my daughter had had it in her bone marrow several years before. After 30 transfusions and a week of gamma globulin infusion – she had beat that nasty virus. But when I said, “Oh, yeah, my daughter had that once” – the vet was – well – silent. Ruthie died a couple of days later.
It wasn’t a big loss – we had had her less than 8 hours – we didn’t know her, had never had to clean up after her. Felt a bit sad and after a few days we went back to the shelter.
The vet met us and assured us that – “we’ve never had that happen before”. We picked out a little black kitten, named her Olive, and were told -“we’ll spay her tomorrow and you can pick her up on Thursday. Deja vu kinda moment.
The next morning there was an early call from the vet. “I’m sorry, but your kitty died.” I replied – “Oh, that was last week. We got a new one yesterday – remember?”
The vet broke into tears and told me that our little black kitten had died during the procedure. “I’ve never lost one like this before.” I comforted the vet and almost gave up the idea of another kitty.
But, we gave it one more try. So we went back to the shelter – this time the woman in the cat area was a little reluctant to let us pick out another cat. After all, we had killed two cats in two weeks just by picking them out. We found another one. Gray with huge green eyes – we named her Ruthie II. “We’ll spay her tomorrow and you can pick her up on Thursday.” I told them to call me if she made it through Wednesday and we would pick her up.
Well, Ruthie II was lively and adorable on Thursday. We took her home, put a little pink collar with a bell on it around her neck. Within a few days, it was quite obvious that Ruthie II had big issues. She hid under the beds and wasn’t eating. Then one morning I woke up – found the bed under me wet and thought – damn – this menopause thing is causing new problems.
The next morning, my daughter came in to tell me that she had “wet the bed” and was so upset. I heard the echo of a little bell and realized that the kitty was – pissed – literally.
My friend suggested we take her to a kitty behaviorist – yes there are people with that vocation in life. We went and were given a bottle of clear liquid – “sort of like Kitty – zoloft” said the behaviorist. You put the bottle on a little plug in thing, leave the kitty in the room while the medication permeated the air and the kitty would get over the trauma of being brought into the house where four cats had died.
We tried, we really did. Couldn’t use the third bedroom for three days. Tried to keep a serene atmosphere. Cleaned the mattresses. Ruthie II was still a bit on the psychotic kitty side of things. Finally, we decided that we weren’t meant to have a kitty right now. I called the shelter and told them we were bringing Ruthie II back. “You know, you’ll never be able to adopt a cat from this shelter if you do that?” “Yes,” I said, “” I know. I took the little pink collar offf of Ruthie II. And …… I felt like Oral Roberts. The cat was healed of her post traumatic stress instantly.
It’s been five years. Ruthie II leaves her little gray hair everywhere. She cuddles us when we’re sick and listens to us when we’re sad. So, I understand Libby and Kumquat. I saved the prayers. Cats are gifts in our world. But they don’t like collars or bells.