Friday, August 5, 2016

On Love and Loss, Again

Our 18-year-old cat has been declining for a couple of years now. The first observation was how she stopped running up and down the stairs. Second, she slept a lot more. She also preferred the canned food over the dry and was constantly hungry this past year. I'd feed her a teaspoon every 2-4 hours, or on demand. Still she continued to lose weight. From 12 lbs down to 10 and finally 7. She was sooo bony by the end. I could delineate all the vertebrae as I'd run my hand down her back. But she was still sprightly, chasing geckos on the porch, bringing them indoors.

Tue night, she cried out for food. She could hardly walk. It was so sudden. She wouldn't come to her normal feeding spot so I brought the food to her. She ate, drank some water from a glass, and then *dragged* herself upstairs. Dagny said she collapsed on the carpet. I didn't sleep much, thinking she would probably die in her sleep. But no, early in the morning, she was up and Michael fed her before leaving for work. I don't know how she managed to crawl up on our bed, but she did. It was so painful to watch her try to get comfortable on Michael's pillow. I petted her but she wouldn't purr at all. Later in the morning, I carried her out to the porch so she could enjoy the fresh air, the symphony of birds and insects. I knew I needed to call the vet. And I was so thankful they could end her life that very afternoon. She would probably have passed away on her own within a week, but I didn't want her to suffer any longer. As it is, she was probably in pain only for a few hours.

As you can imagine, we had some discussions about euthanasia, how it is right for our animals but never for humans. I've wanted to die when I've been in severe pain for days and I'm grateful nobody chopped my head off. No, the answer for humans is better pain control, sitting and praying with them, not shunning them but letting them know you love them, even if they are a burden. That's compassion -- to suffer with. 

I have appreciated how the pets always sat with me when I needed some company. I have so many wonderful memories.

We got Kali from the shelter when I was pregnant with Max. Our older cat, Moje, hated her. But when I left for the hospital and didn't return home until two weeks later, they'd become the best of friends, grooming one another. And how curious they were about Max!



Kali was my muse too. I've written a couple of books for the kids and they loved them so very much -- stories about themselves. Ladybug published a rebus I wrote: Where is Kali? based upon true adventures right at home. I've used this homemade book in writing workshops for kids and it's such a great hit every time. And then they write their own stories, some steal-worthy.

She inspired all of us to make more art.

My first picture book submission ever was actually Kali and Baby Max. I made photo dummies and sent them out to eight publishers. I even mentioned that they could use an illustrator to draw pictures based upon mine. How little I knew about the world of PBs. Still the publishers were very kind, sending me a gentle and encouraging  rejection. They all commented on what a cute baby and cat I had.



Ah, good times! 
Last year, we had a discussion about names with a wonderful Polish priest. I had learned that you can inadvertently summon demons by playing things like Ouija, tarot cards, etc. So I asked him whether I had unwittingly invited evil into our home by naming the cat after the goddess of destruction. He asked whether we meant to invoke her. I said no. Her name also means black/darkness, and she was destructive as a kitten, clawing the furniture, the cushions, the carpet so the name seemed apt. He said not to worry about it, but the next time we have a pet, to not go naming it after known demons. He laughed when I told him that soon after our conversion to Catholicism, the kids *baptized* her with Holy Water.

It is strange to not have a cat in the house. It's been over 20 years since I've been catless and I am acutely aware of the things I miss, especially the purr. I need to post the article about how beneficial purring is ... but that's for another time. For now I bid you ciao meow.


Mirka Breen said...

I feel I know her better after reading this.
Yes, The PURRRRR... A proven blood pressure lowering device.
I'm going to tell my cats right now that I am happy they're here, for as long as they bless us.

Barbara Etlin said...

Oh man, this made me cry. I'm so very sorry. Kali was so beautiful. I especially like the photo of her peeking into Max's crib. Cherish the memories. Hugs.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'm so sorry, Vijaya. She must have had one of the best kitty lives imaginable!

Vijaya said...

Thank you all so much.

Mirka, the PURRR is PURR-fect for building up bones too.

Barb, you and me, both. I still think how you're coping without Echo. Hugs. The memories are sweet.

Faith, she did. We'd often say how good American cats and dogs have it!

Anonymous said...

So sorry for the loss of your beautiful cat. It's interesting how involved Kali was in your road to publication, she sounds like a very good muse.

Unknown said...

So sorry for you and your family! What a beautiful kitty.

Sue said...


It's hard losing our fur babies.


Vijaya said...

Marcia, she really was a wonderful muse. Our new kittens are easing the loss. They need a great deal of socialization so the focus has shifted completely.

Thank you Sue and Katie.