Category Archives: cat

Love in life and death

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When I was ready to quit this blog a cousin of mine made a comment that may seem rather obvious but is something I’ve never thought of- if nothing else the blog documents the little details of our lives these past few years and will be special to us on down the road when we are 60 and can’t remember the details. I decided to keep on mostly for that reason, and because I know the grandparents sure love all the pictures. This post though, this really long and rambling post is 100% for me.

Today I had to take the bunnies to the vet and as I stepped into the room where I said goodbye to Lucy just one month ago the feelings of sadness and guilt welled up inside me stronger than I was prepared for and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. And I realized that what I need to do is share about Lucy, and write it down, and then move on.

Lucy came into our lives in a rather unexpected way, as animals tend to do. Our very first cat, Dusty was an adoption from Craig’s cousin. Four months after she joined our family, on a rather ordinary day, I carried her out with me to get the mail and sat her down to gather a package. She walked to the end of the driveway and then turned, and gave me a very pointed look. I headed inside as she stood there- the garage was open and she was prone to wander. But just like the t.v. show ‘Without a Trace’, Dusty simply vanished that day. I went crazy with worry and canvased the neighborhood with fliers, going door to door to look for her. I spent every lunch hour scanning the internet and shelters and lost pet sites. But Dusty was simply gone.

About two weeks after this happened I was on the Independence Animal Shelter website when I saw a cat that looked just like Dusty! I was convined! I had found her! Nevermind that the markings were slightly different and this cat, ‘Slate’, was guesstimated to be 10 years old rather than the spry young kitten than ran away. I left work and drove stright to the shelter. It was immediately obvious that the cat curled tightly in the littler box in a small metal cage was not Dusty. She was traumitzed, and old, and scraggly. The shelter volunteer shared with me how it was so sad when families surrendered their older cats because they always ended up putting them down. “People like the kittens, not these poor old sweeties” she said. 5 minutes and $10 later I had pried ‘Slate’ out of the litter box and was on the cell phone to Craig as I drove home with the cat in the backseat.

When Craig returned home he indulged my impulsive cat purchase as he knew the depth of my sorrow over losing Dusty. I renamed ‘Slate’ Lucy and crossed my fingers she would get along with the bunnies. The first few days did not go smoothly. Lucy would not leave Craig’s closet and was not eating her food. My dad suggested we mash the cat food with water and feed her wet food. It worked and she started to eat a bit. We took her to the vet and discovered she needed hundreds of dollars of dental work and her mouth was covered in sores. The evening we picked her up from the vet after having her rotting teeth extracted was the first night she took her place in the center of our bed, purring like a carburator.

We had four great years with Lucy. There were ups and downs for sure. No matter what we did and what foods we gave her, Lucy vomitted nearly every night and most days. A vomitting cat and white carpet were not a good mix- and I blogged about this many, many times. But Lucy tolerated the rabbits, and she LOVED us. She waited by the door for us to come home, sitting so close I missed whacking her by a matter of centimeters every day. I’ve never seen a cat get so excited to see people! She followed as around, and had mannerisms more like a dog than a cat. She never begged for food and never climbed on the furniture. Except for that one time when we pulled out of the driveway but then ran back in for that one forgotten item, finding her perched on the top of the piano! Busted! It made us question the arthritis and wonder what else she was up to when she thought we were gone!

When Devan arrived, Lucy took it in stride. She didn’t shy away from the screaming baby, and since we coslept with him decided it was her duty to keep watch over him. She even licked his head before I scolded her for getting too close to the baby. As he grew and began to chase her, and poke her, and pull her tail she showed amazing restraint and never once tried to retaliate. This past year though was also when we started to notice she wasn’t quite herself- less social, more mopey. She ‘cried’ for longer periods at night- sometimes for hours and along with the sleep deprivation from Devan it began to grate on our nerves a bit. And then she began to cry when we left the room or when she thought we were gone and it slowly dawned on us that she was deaf.

Craig and I dug in and endured and hoped the move to the new house would help. For a few weeks, we were optimistic. But then the crying increased, and then she stopped using the stairs, and stopped coming to our room at night, and stopped using the litter box. We discussed what options we had with an older cat with so many health and behavioral issues but I just couldn’t make the decision to end her life. I’ve always said that no matter how sick, I could never make the choice to euthanize an animal. But then we are in the middle of this situation and I realized we really had no other choice. We didn’t want her to suffer, we didn’t want her on a million medications, we knew the behavioral issues were linked to her failing health, and our marriage was beginning to suffer from the lack of sleep and the stress from the constant soiling of our house. I say this not to excuse myself from what I decided, but to remind myself of how I reached the most agonizing decision I have ever made.

One Tuesday I was ready to leave for work when I discovered cat poop in the middle of the living room and a box of placemats that was soaked in urine. It struck me that it was a situation that would not get better. Lucy’s health would contine to fail, and our resentment of her would grow. For all the love she gave us, I knew that I wanted to say goodbye to her in love. And I knew that she had been in pain and I had no desire to prolong her live to prevent my sadness at the loss of her company. And I told myself that animals had no concept of life and death, and that whether this year or the next made no difference to Lucy- she had lived a full and happy life with us. With my voice shaking I made the call.

Thursday, July 31st, I took Devan to his sitter and then returned to the house where Lucy and Craig were waiting on the porch. I picked her up and cuddled her as we climbed in the car and drove the the vet. The trip was over way too quickly and I could barely stop the tears as we went into the room. He gave her a relaxant and for ten minutes we sat in the room and held her, and stroked her, and told her what a beautiful cat she was and how sorry we were and how much we loved her and how much she had given us. And then I put my face down next to her and kissed her and he gave her the final shot and she drew her last breath. It was very peaceful, and incredibly difficult.

I felt like I would vomit and we wrapped her in a blanket and drove home. We were both fairly silent and in a sort of shock as we brought her home and buried her with her favorite toy and one of Craig’s shoes that she was fond of sleeping on. I came inside and immediately cleaned up her food, and litter and all of her toys and carried them to the basement in a trance. And then Craig left for work and I went to take a shower. And that is when I lost it- the feelings of loss and guilt and sadness rolled over me in waves and I was powerless to stop them. It may sound overly dramatic, but anyone who has loved an animal knows how big a part they play in our lives. They are family, Lucy was family.

This past month has been okay. The house has felt empty. There have been nights I would gladly clean up vomit and poop and pee and listen to her cry just to cuddle her again. There are many days that I feel doubt and guilt and wonder why I didn’t do more for her. And there are also days that I feel confident that we did right by her and gave her the life, and death, that I would want myself. There is no question that it is just hard.

And that is the story of Lucy. An unlikely cat who came into our lives and won us over. She taught us about patience and unconditional love. She was a wonderful cat and I loved her dearly.

Goodbye

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This morning we made the most agonizing, difficult, painful decision of my adult life and said goodbye to Lucy. No matter what I have said in the past, we have both loved that cat like you wouldn’t believe and we are going to miss her dearly. I am completely heart-sick right now.

Goodbye Lucy. We love you.

Without a Trace

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Last night after Devan (finally) went to bed I spent the evening searching for furniture and looking at paint samples for our bedroom remodel. I was having a great time and stayed up way later than usual from the excitement of finally finding some things I liked. Finally as we were locking up the house and heading for bed Craig asks “Have you seen Lucy?”

Well now that I thought about it, it had been awhile. But then again, we have 5 levels of house so it is pretty easy for her to find a place to hide. So we searched the house, top to bottom. No cat. So, we searched the house again, top to bottom. No cat. So we searched the garage again. No cat.

By this point, I am starting to panic a little and realizing that Lucy was most likely not in the house. And you’re probably wondering why I care so much knowing that a few months ago I was mulling over putting her down but the fact is that I love that darn cat. Ugly, old, loud, whiny, and barfy sure but somehow I still love her. And with the new space we have room to put her in the basement at night and things seems to have been going fairly well with her lately. She even lets Devan tug her tail, so that’s something.

Well we went to bed realizing that she was definitely outside and wondering how in the heck she got there. She moves incredibly slowly and is not one to like to leave our side. And she would have had to slip out of the family room, then the laundry room, then the garage door for the 30 seconds Craig had the door open last night which seemed so incredibly unlikely. And honestly her chances outside weren’t great- a new neighborhood, she is deaf, and declawed. Things looked dim. After failing to fall asleep I decided to sleep on the couch with the doors open in hopes of hearing her. And then when I still couldn’t sleep I sat out on the porch, in the middle of the night, hoping she would wander back. No cat.

This morning I am just beside myself. We checked with neighbors, I called Animal Control and the local shelters and no luck. I am accepting that our cat is not coming home and Craig is trying to leave for work while I am bawling my eyes out and saying “How can you leave now? Lucy is gooooooooonnnneeee.” Craig decides to humor me and search the house one last time in case she crawled into a vent (not that she would fit) to die. No cat.

And then 20 minutes ago as I sit on the couch and sob that our cat died at the hands of a pack of vicious neighborhood dogs I hear a faint noise. A very faint meow. And I run to the back door and fling it open and there, sitting on the deck, is a filthy dirty Lucy.

And I can not even begin to tell you how overjoyed I was to see that stinky old cat.

Lovely Lucy

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Heeheehee. Gotcha. Not everyone, but a lot of you. That was fun.

Anyways, I just returned from the basement and it is looking like I have bleached the life out of our bedspread because now it is all stiff and rough and still covered with the many, many (many, many, many) vomit stains from our lovely cat who doesn’t bother to head for the cleanable surfaces before she spews catfood. It’s just so darn gross.

Suggestions anyone? I’m not sure where else to go from here- we’ve got white, washable, bleachable bedspread but it just isn’t cutting it… maybe we should go with washable and vomit-colored? Anyone know where I can get an attractive vomit-colored bedspread? Or maybe I should cover the bed with a sheet of plastic every morning? Or maybe just banish the freaking cat to the basement?

Or maybe the 3 years of loving attention Lucy gives us is not enough to outweigh the constant crying (yes, she cries) that wakes us all three up in the middle of the night, and the daily vomit-patrol clean up? Don’t you think losing sleep over a baby is enough of a headache without losing sleep because your cat MEOOOOOWS so loudly? ALL NIGHT LONG. Can you tell I’m falling out of love with this cat? And is it weird that I’m the one who wants to put her down and Craig is the one who is standing up for her? Enough question marks already?

Please, someone just tell me how to fix this because this whole situation is really stressing me out and yet, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t actually bring myself to put her down for my convenience. Though it’s pretty temping at 2 am when she has woken all three of us up for the second time of the night. It’s a good thing I don’t own a shotgun.

Well I’m going to go the bed now and cuddle up with the purring, loving cat. But I know full well I will be thinking murderous thoughts again in a matter of hours. It’s very sad.

Ew.

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Someone tell me which is the grossest thing:


1.Devan peeing on our bed.

2.Lucy laying on the pee in the bed.

3.Me ignoring the pee on the bed, covering the spot with a waterproof pad and blanket, and making the bed over it until I change the sheets at a later date.

4.Devan spitting up on the carpet, and Lucy licking it up before I can clean it.

5.Devans “prune” poop on his cloth diapers that Craig literally had to scrape off into the toilet before we could wash it- because it was so thick and sticky that not even a diaper sprayer could touch it. Think meconium. Only 10x more than a newborn.

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