Smithers

Jan. 4th, 2017 08:41 pm
bookofmirrors: (Smithers)
Like Whimsy, Smithers has been with me since the day he was born. His origin story is also hers, and I said it better in http://bookofmirrors.livejournal.com/376831.html. It includes how we ended up with Smithers, how he got his name, and his early life.

As I stated there, we hadn't planned on keeping Smithers. He had a home lined up. But the couple ended up not taking him, and my father agreed that I should keep Smithers, in addition to Whimsy, so we ended up with the only two gray and white kittens from the litter... a matched set, male and female.

Even though we always joked that Whimsy (and therefore kinda Smithers) was Dean's cat, Smithers was always a Mama's Boy. He loved to be on my lap, milk treading and purring. When he was a tiny kitten, and I had to go to work for one of my off-hour shifts, I took him with me. He spent most of the time there sleeping in my cleavage while I did paperwork. Although it obviously didn't bother him at that time, Smithers had a weird quirk where he hated skin. More accurately, he hated walking on skin. This was a bit of an issue, since I spent a lot of time naked. He'd jump up on the couch, wanting to be on my lap, but not wanting to get his feet on my bare skin. He'd pace and meow plaintively, until I threw a blanket over myself, and he'd jump up immediately, and proceed with his cuddling.

He had an adorable habit when he was young, where if you petted him, he'd bliss out and his tongue would slip out of his mouth. I loved it when he did this, and thought it was the cutest thing. Whenever he did it with Dean, though, Dean would touch Smithers' tongue with the tip of his finger, and Smithers would pop it back in his mouth. I protested, because I thought it would make him stop doing that. Sadly, I was right, and it wasn't something that remained a habit for very long.

I don't recall a time Smithers was ever sick, up until the end of his life. The only medical problem we had was one of his claws started growing back, and we had to get it re-done. I found out then that there were two different ways to declaw cats, and he and Whimsy had both had the incomplete version. I opted not to have the surgery re-done on all their claws, and that was my first inkling that declawing wasn't the benign procedure I had presumed it to be. I cried when I had to replace his dressing, heartbroken to think that something I'd done had caused him pain. But we both got through it, and there were no further complications.

There are no good pictures of Smithers. Most of them either look frowsy (and he was that, at times), or just like ...well, a cat. None of them captured his easy, muscular grace. As Whimsy had been the smallest of the litter, he had been the largest, and he was the only cat I had whose muscles clearly rippled in his shoulders when he moved. He wasn't a particularly athletic cat, but he just somehow had that build. But for all his obvious power, he was a much more timid cat than his sister, and moreso than all the other cats. I always said he was a bit neurotic, and pictures also failed to capture the almost perpetually worried look he had. His other "look", which photos likewise could never portray, was a regal pose he would have sometimes, either sitting and towering over his domain like a contented monarch, or lying in a pose very much like that of the Sphinx, and looking just as wise.

In spite of being neutered as early as possible, Smithers still apparently had a healthy sexual appetite, and would chase Whimsy and Loki frequently, must to their annoyance (and horrible yowling). I don't think he ever caught them, but it certainly wasn't from lack of trying.

As part of his neuroses, singing in his presence almost always caused him to yowl in a very concerned manner. Apparently Glenn and I concerned him often. Everyone's a critic. :) He would also go through the house yowling for no apparent reason, moreso later in life. Glenn told me that it increased to an almost constant when I was out of town for work. Trying to get him to stop was like talking to the walls. But we loved him anyway, even as we were trying to get back to sleep. It certainly drove Brett nuts, but to his credit, he never did more than verbally complain.

As I type, I take back what I said about him not being sick ever. At one point, he developed crystals in his urine. (Apparently, there are two kinds. I can never remember which kind he had, but it was the most common kind.) The http://www.thecatdoctoratlanta.com/ praised me for knowing my animals so well, and for paying attention enough to notice something was wrong, because apparently, this could progress to death very quickly. He said he'd have to be in a special diet the rest of his life, and that deviating from it would cause them to come back. All the cats ate the same food, so all the cats ended up going on the same diet. I tried to switch him over to a different food later, when Silver required special food for his megacolon, but the crystals did indeed come back, so we had to switch back. Interestingly enough, however, when we moved to Illinois, the original vet we went to (now retired) was not only a DVM, but was also versed in animal chiropractic, acupuncture, and Chinese medicine, and said that we could switch him over to non-prescription food if we only fed him "cooling" foods, as per Chinese medicine. I was skeptical, but I went ahead and tried it, and damned if it didn't work perfectly. I was able to switch all the cats over to the food that the http://www.susanwynn.com/ in Atlanta (*highly* recommend her, by the way) had recommended, and if it was possible, they got even *more* healthy, with a noticeable difference in their coats - and it's certainly not like all of them hadn't always had top-of-the-line food since they were kittens. Everyone had always commented on their coats, and any cat that lived with us, or was cared for by us for any length of time had a noticeable improvement in their coats, even before then. What you feed your pets matters, people. (/end rant... maybe) After a few years of the cooling foods, it turned out it had pretty much cured him, and he could eat anything without the crystals returning. Really amazing.

Anyway, he was about 16 when he was diagnosed with kidney disease. All cats who live long enough will eventually get this. It's kind of amazing that Whimsy didn't seem to have it, all the way up until the end. But it's something that happens, and it progresses, and there's really nothing that will cure it, although there are some things that can be done to delay it. I gave him subcutaneous fluids for a while, but he didn't like it, and I wasn't going put him through that just because I didn't want to lose him. Ditto any medications, which I knew would traumatize my already-neurotic cat. In spite of that, he lived a few years without his levels going up significantly, and having no apparent major changes.

The first thing that really happened was when he started wasting. I was worried that he was losing weight, because I could start to feel his bones when I petted him. The http://aaapetclinic.com/ checked him out, and said that he'd actually gained weight since his prior visit, and that what I was noticing was actually wasting - loss of muscle mass. This progressed slowly over time.

As any elderly cat will do, he started to move more slowly, and look like he had some of the aches and pains of old age. But he was otherwise still himself. At his last checkup, my suspicions that his kidney disease was progressing more rapidly were confirmed with bloodwork. I knew it would be soon.

He kept seeming older and older, but I never got the "signal" I'd always gotten with my other cats. He started sleeping almost exclusively in the corner of the living room where the two heating registers met, or on top of the subwoofer in Glenn's office.

It wasn't until Whimsy's death last Friday, that I really realized how far along he'd gotten. Whimsy ate like a fiend, and even moreso after her seizures, so I hadn't realized how little Smithers was eating. Since her death, he ate a total of less than one can of food, and there was only one tiny piece of stool in the litterbox. He was less interested in cuddling, which was very unlike him, so I finally went and picked him up for a while, which is when I realized he had a bunch of cat litter in his paws that he hadn't cleaned out, so I knew he wasn't taking care of himself. I was able to get all that cleared out, and I'm sure it must have been uncomfortable, but when it was gone, he didn't seem any less uncomfortable when he walked. Gentle petting while he was standing was enough to make him lose his balance. I was sure it was getting time to put him down, but I hadn't gotten any message from him, and when I'd had the http://www.spirithealer.com/ with Whimsy, they'd worked a bit with Smithers, as well, so I thought I'd have more time with him. But all this was too much. I asked around, and finally decided that, signal or no signal, I couldn't keep him alive any longer.

So, I made the appointment. And I sat down and told him how wonderful he'd been (I swear he must have thought throughout life that his full name was BigOleSmithersHim'sSuchAGoodBoy), and that I thought he was very brave to be willing to stay with me in spite of his pain, but that I would never ask that of him, and that I didn't want him to hurt anymore, and that I was going to help him pass on.

When Glenn and I took him to the vet, he wasn't as calm in the car as Whimsy and Silver and Loki had been (they'd all made their wishes clear to me), but he was so tired and worn out. He didn't get out of his carrier at the vets until I took him out. Glenn and I petted him while he left the world, and I didn't feel him go like I'd felt my other cats go, so it was hard for him to feel dead to me. But I know he's in a better place now, and I'm happy for that.

So now, for the first time in over 20 years, I have no cats, no pets. It's strange how much of my life was focused on their care. I didn't realize how they're almost my first thought in most things. When I come home, when I wake up, when I walk through the house - there's a part of me that is always on the alert for them, and wondering where/how they are, what they're doing, thinking I need to get them more food/water, change their litter, just know they're there. I can tell now, because I constantly have to check myself from doing those things. I know it's only been just over 24 hours, but there's definitely an emptiness.

I suppose the obvious question people will have for me now is to ask if I'll get more pets/cats.

Yes, of course. But not for a while. And I don't plan to own for quite some time. There are a couple of groups in town that do cat rescues, and they're always looking for foster homes. If I own a cat or cats, I can only help the cats I own. If I foster, I can help so many more lives. I'm sure I'll end up being a "foster fail" at some point, of course, and that's fine. Also, with fostering, the cost of veterinary care is covered by the group, and I could really do with saving money right now. When I do adopt, I will probably do so from the Humane Society, and will focus on animals that need to be adopted together, or special needs animals, or ones due to be euthanized next. I figure I can help more lives that way, too.

But for now, I'm just going to take some time to regroup. I'm going to do a deep cleaning on all the cat areas, and I'm going to put everything away, and/or donate all my current supplies. I'll call PetFlow and figure out if I can stop my current shipments and still maintain my early-adopter discount when I start shipments in the future, or if I need to keep a minimum order to be able to do that, and arrange for that order to be sent to charity in the meantime.

I am so grateful to all the animals in my life for letting me share in their lives. This is the end of an era for me, and I look forward to the next chapter.

Coda

Whimsy

Dec. 31st, 2016 06:54 pm
bookofmirrors: (Whimsy)
Whimsy was with me, literally, her entire life.

I can never remember if it was March or April 21, but I remember the day that we heard weird noises in the house that we couldn't place. After they continued for about a week or so, we pulled an access panel from the closet in Mark and Kristi's room, since that's where the sounds seemed to be coming from. When we pulled the panel (which accessed the pipes of the bathtub, so there was a small open area, like a cave, all around the tub), a long-haired black cat hissed and bolted, jumping to the crawlspace below the house. In the space behind her ...were kittens.

Naturally, we were delighted. We could see (what we thought) were 4 kittens - 2 gray ones, a gray and white one, and a black and white one. Of course, we started watching them grow up. The mother wanted no part of us, but she grew to tolerate our spying as she raised them.

Then, one day when we looked, all the kittens were gone but one, the gray and white one. We weren't sure if the mother had abandoned this one, or had planned to come back for it, but Dean and I lured it out. The kitten came to us somewhat tentatively, but hissed at us fiercely as we reached for it. I examined it, and found nothing obviously wrong with it, except a single flea, which we killed.

We took the kitten to the http://www.vet4me.com/ to get checked out. Turns out, it was a she. I had long thought that Whimsy would be a great name for a little fluffy gray kitten, and I figured that her being gray and white was close enough, so that immediately became her name. (Dean insisted it be spelled Whimsey, and I humored him, but I dropped that spelling when I moved to Atlanta.) While we were there, we got a call from Mark and Kristi. They'd since moved out, but they'd been over visiting, and had heard noises under the house. Kristi (probably the only person who'd have been able to fit in the dirt-floored crawlspace) had crawled under the house and retrieved the other kittens she found under there. I told her to bring them all to the vet to be looked over with their sister.

Turns out there were actually 5 more kittens. There was still just one black and white kitten (the only other female), but turns out there were 3 gray kittens, and another gray and white kitten. The vet proclaimed them to be in good health, and said they were old enough to eat their own food, and that we should get some kitten chow and wet it down; he said they'd make a huge mess and get it all over themselves, and probably eat more cleaning it off from themselves than they would actually eating, but that this would be fine, and to bring them back in a week. Whimsy was the smallest of the kittens, and the other gray and white kitten was the largest.

We did this. In the meantime, we named the kittens. The perky gray kitten with the unique face, we called Moogy. The second largest kitten, also gray, we called Rumplestiltzkitten. The third gray kitten, the calmest kitten I'd ever encountered, we called Karma. The playful black and white kitten we called Mischief. The other gray and white kitten (who we noticed grooming Mischief, who seemed to be in charge) we called Smithers. (I vetoed calling Mischief "Mr. Burns", but Smithers stuck.) And, of course, there was Whimsy.

When we took them back for their checkup, they'd all lost weight. The vet said that apparently they hadn't been ready to eat on their own, and prescribed a regimen of wet food and kitten milk, to be fed every 2 hours. So, we started doing that around the clock. During the day, of course, there were plenty of friends willing to help out with the feedings. And, somewhere in there, since we hadn't put the access panel back in place, the mother cat had found her way back into the room, and would jump into the box we kept the kittens in, and feed them. (I eventually caught her in a live trap, and got her to the vet as well, getting her spayed and clearing up an infection. My attempts to tame her, a long-haired black cat with a scar on her face, got as far as her allowing me to corner her and pet for a time every night, but she was still frantic to escape, and I determined she'd never be happy as an indoor cat. I eventually gave her to a co-worker, who had barn cats, so that she'd always have shelter and ready access to food. I hope she did well.)

Whimsy was always the most ravenous and greedy of the kittens at feeding time. Which leads me to one of my favorite stories about her.

We also had a dog in the house. Technically, she was Mark's dog, but when he'd moved out, he didn't have a place for her, so we were keeping her for as long as would be necessary. Roxie was a friendly dog, but she was still a puppy, for all her Rottweiler hugeness, and we were afraid with her gangly clumsiness, she'd accidentally step on a kitten underfoot, so we kept them separated. It also allowed my other cats to have a chance to escape the playful kittens. We used a baby fence, in the archway between the living room and the bedrooms.

Baby fences, of course, don't really keep kittens out of anything, since kittens are good climbers, but it did slow them down enough for us to be able to extricate them from the latticework and put them back down until they got tired of trying for the time being. Roxie watched us do this, and took it upon herself to help out. It pretty quickly got to the point where we could just say, "Roxie! Watch the kittens!" and she'd race over to the fence, and use her nose to nudge the potential escapee back to their own side. She seemed delighted with her role as babysitter.

One day, however, Whimsy made it over the fence in spite of Roxie's attempt to keep her back. She made an immediate beeline across the room to Roxie's food bowl, and jumped inside it (it was bigger than she was) and started devouring the food.

Now, Roxie didn't have a vicious bone in her body, but I was suddenly terrified. A bite-size morsel had just presented herself in Roxie's food bowl, and I was worried that Roxie would decide the fuzzy little morsel was food.

Not so. Before I had time to react, Roxie had already made her way to the food bowl. She stared quizzically at Whimsy for a second or two, then used her nose to nudge her to one side of the bowl, and started eating the food right next to Whimsy. It was one of the cutest things I'd ever seen. I wished I'd gotten a picture.

The kittens grew old enough to be on their own. Moogy went to a friend. Mischief (renamed Affinity) went to a co-worker. Karma and Rumplestiltzkitten (don't know what they were renamed) went to the nephew of the receptionist at the vet's office. Smithers was supposed to go with a couple of friends, but they kept putting off picking him up. There was never any question we'd keep Whimsy.

When Whimsy and Smithers were the only two kittens left, I took them with me once when I visited my parents. My parents knew about my dilemma about keeping them both, but after seeing them, they decided I shouldn't break them apart. I warned them that if I kept them both, they'd probably be paying a lot of the vet bills, but I was told to keep them anyway. I'm forever grateful for this.

So, Whimsy and Smithers (distinguished by certain markings, most notably Whimsy's pink nose and Smithers' gray nose, as well as their size - Smithers remained the largest cat, and Whimsy the smallest) became permanent fixtures in our lives.

By then, it was just Dean and I, and we'd moved to another apartment.

Whimsy was finicky from the get-go. Humans weren't always good enough to touch Her Highness, and, while none of my cats were mean, or biters, she was the only one I ever had to warn people to try not to pet, at least without being given clear signs of permission, and most people didn't have her permission. In fact, the only person she actually liked was Dean. That included me. She tolerated me, but primarily gazed upon me with disdain, and wasn't usually cooperative with my attempts at affection.

She loved Dean, though. She'd sit on his lap for hours, and he'd tell her, over and over again, the story of how she came to be with us. ("And that flea was almost as big as you were!") She slept with him, and generally adored him.

She remained enthusiastic about most forms of food. I'd always kept my cats on a self-feeder, so they were never out of food. Nonetheless, one night I heard a crash, only to discover that Whimsy had made her way up to the shelves over the washer and dryer, where I kept the 40-pound bags of cat food, and had torn through the bag so she could get at what was inside. Apparently, this was all too much for the shelves to bear, so the whole thing came tumbling down. She was still on top of the bag, eating, when I went in to discover this. She was an absolute freak for bread. Any loaves of bread left on the counter ended up with little teeth-marks in the bag, and in the slices. I ended up owning a bread box because of her. She begged shamelessly (and I pretty much always gave in, of course - she didn't mind being my friend if I had food). On at least one occasion, she would take a bite out of the other end of the sandwich I was eating. We teased her about it, but indulged her. She also had a thing for tape... scotch tape, packing tape... any tape dispenser on my desk got gnawed on, and any package left out ended up with tooth marks. (Smithers had the same taste for tape. None of my other cats did. Must have been hereditary.)

When Whimsy was about 3 years old, Dean got a girlfriend. And, as often happens, other things went by the wayside. For the first time, Whimsy met a closed door when she attempted to get into his room. She eventually started turning to me to console her. That was the beginning of her starting to do more than tolerate me. When I moved to Atlanta by myself, the cats went with me (5 of them).

Moving to Atlanta was hard on the cats. For the first time, they started having litterbox issues. I didn't know as much then as I know now, so I struggled to deal with it. Whimsy was one of the worst offenders. In the meantime, I was living with an ex-lover of my best friend. He liked cats well enough, and he was the one who started calling Whimsy "Princess", due to her haughty nature. Due to some snafu's with the transfer paperwork, I didn't get my nursing license in Georgia for a while, and I ended up in a short stint in sales, which involved going (by appointment) to various houses all over the state. There was one day, I'd had a particularly difficult time. Every house I went to seemed a bit sinister, in run-down neighborhoods and people who were clearly down on their luck and dealing with it in various illegal ways. In one of the houses, I learned that there are *literally* two-fisted drinkers. I was afraid most of the day, but nothing happened more than a few lewd comments and looks.

The last house I was scheduled for was different. Immaculate, well-manicured neighborhood. It was dark by then. It didn't look like anyone was home. This was the first time all day I hadn't had some trepidation walking up to the door. No one answered, and I wandered around the house a bit, to see if there was anyone in the backyard. In the process of doing this, out of nowhere, a wave of absolute terror washed over me. I could find zero reason for this fear, but since no one seemed to be around, I went home pretty quickly.

When I got home, I was surprised to find there were no cats around, and my bedroom door was closed. When I got into my bedroom, I noticed all the cats were in there, and my bed was broken. I asked my roommate what had happened. He said he'd left something on the counter (a chicken, I think, but I don't remember) to thaw, and that he'd discovered Whimsy on the counter, eating it. He said he'd suddenly seen red, and that he'd chased her into the bedroom, and in the process of trying to catch her, had landed on my bed and broken it. "All I could think about was killing her," he said, apparently ashamed. He'd locked all the cats in my room until he could clear his head. After piecing the night together, I discovered that the wave of terror I felt had happened exactly when he was chasing her. So, I credit Whimsy (and Shayne, I suppose) with my first experience with animal communication.

I moved out shortly thereafter.

I got a place to myself for a while, but met http://blckwngdorcl.livejournal.com/ during that time. For a while, I, too, was a bit preoccupied with my new romance, but it wasn't long before Glenn and I got our own place, and moved in together. He loved the cats, too, and Whimsy actually seemed to get along with him, as well. Through a few apartments and a few roommates, Whimsy (and others) continued to have litterbox issues, to the tune of hundreds of dollars of damage and strained friendships. It got better as time went on, but never fully resolved until we moved back to Illinois. Something about the energy in Atlanta really got to my Midwest-born cats.

EDIT: I wrote this and focused a bit on her persnickety nature, how picky she was about the companionship she chose. But, the older she got, the more affectionate she got. When we moved in with Brett, she let him know in no uncertain terms that a cat of her stature had no use whatsoever for roughhouse play, but I later saw her lying on his lap when he was sick. She'd climb up in bed to lie on Glenn's chest almost every night for a while, as he went to bed, and I'd often catch her there while he was sleeping. She'd do the same with me. And almost every time I sat on the couch, she'd be on the armrest, and I'd wrap my arm around her and she'd cuddle in, and we'd sit there companionably for hours, and I'd scratch her cheeks almost the whole time. (end edit)

Whimsy was not, that I recall, ever sick a day in her life, until she hit about 16. Because of her hearty appetite, she was always a little rotund. She had a fatty lump in her abdomen that the http://www.thecatdoctoratlanta.com/ said was no cause for worry, and her ears got dirty more quickly than other cats.

Twice, however, after she was put under for dental procedures, she ended up having to get subcutaneous fluids, and prescription food, since she'd get really lethargic and stop eating. We learned to just give her extra fluids right off the bat, and give her that food after any procedure. Problem solved.

She was always one of the more adventurous of my cats, and when I took them on supervised outdoor excursions, she was always curious, and was more likely to explore. One day, I noticed she was licking herself more than usual, and I kept an eye on it. She ended up licking off her fur on the inside of one of her legs. By the time I was able to get a vet appointment, she'd licked off a layer of her skin.

The http://aaapetclinic.com/ said this was either (some disease I can't remember) or cancer. The treatment for both was steroids, so we put her on those. Eventually, the hair grew back. I realized later that she'd had fleas, and we got that treated, which helped a lot. So much for letting her explore the great outdoors. (I still did, of course. I rarely denied her anything, and started using the flea preventions in the summer months.) Anyway, seems like the cancer scare was over.

Later, one of her ear tips started to droop. Another trip to the vet, and we got her ear cleaned out. The vet said there was something in her ear that was either a large clump of debris she couldn't extract, or a polyp/tumor. Another cancer scare. But, that got better, too.

Once, at the vet, she most decidedly did not want her blood drawn. She expressed her displeasure by biting me hard enough to draw blood, something she, nor any of my other cats, had ever done. My other cats always seemed embarrassed when they did anything the least bit violent in my direction. Her look clearly stated, "Well, that's what you get."

Then, one day, she had a seizure. I didn't recognize it at first. But then she had another. And had them about every 6 hours. Afterwards, she'd pace the house, like she was re-learning it, as if her vision had gone. I made an appointment with the vet, of course, and read all I could on the internet in the meantime. Apparently the post-ictal blindness was common.

At the vet, options were discussed, and there was no treatment that seemed like it would do enough to improve quality of life (she was perfectly fine between seizures), and would likely decrease it, either in side effects, or the administration of it. So, we opted to do nothing. The vet said she might not come out of one of the seizures, and that would be it. We looked back at the idea that there might be a tumor in her brain. I contacted an http://carolschultz.com/, who said it was hard to connect with Whimsy, apparently due to the frying her brain kept getting, and that anything could change, but she got the impression she might die within a week.

Months prior, Whimsy had told me that she was planning on dying in her sleep at home ("like Neg", who was one of my other cats who had done this). So I had every intention of honoring her wishes.

For a few days, she kept having seizures. She became more and more confused after each. Once I found her behind the dryer in the basement, like she'd wandered behind there, realized she was stuck, and just ...stopped. The same thing happened behind the chest freezer. She would lie there with a fixed, unseeing stare, like an Alzheimer's patient, almost completely unresponsive. Strangely enough, she still ate, drank, and used the litterbox with no problems. This went on for a day or so, although she didn't seem to be having seizures during that time. Then, she managed to make her way to the couch, where she slept and slept. She'd still get up for food/drink/litterbox, but other than that, she only slept like the dead.

And, after a couple of days of that... she woke up. And there was no indication she'd ever been sick. No seizures, no blindness, no signs of ill health whatsoever.

Glenn and I were surprised and thrilled. Even though she was 19, you'd never know it to look at her. She was herself again.

We enjoyed that for a few more months before the seizures started again. Same pattern, same results. She was responsive afterwards, but tentative. My fastidious little princess wasn't cleaning herself properly, which was especially troubling since the seizures always made her soil herself. After a couple days of this, I thought that she couldn't have anticipated this outcome when she said she wanted to die naturally at home. Since the usual method of animal communication hadn't worked before when she had seizures, I went the http://www.spirithealer.com/. I'd done Journeys for Whimsy myself in the past, but I didn't want my own bias to cloud the message.

Whimsy's first words via that method were "I hate this". She said the seizures felt like fire in her body, and that I couldn't put her to sleep soon enough. Some healing was done to keep her from having another seizure in the meantime. She didn't.

I called the vet, and was able to get an appointment a couple hours later. Glenn was working, and even though he tried, he wasn't able to make it to the vet's to be there.

Whimsy was quiet on the ride (unusual for her in later years). I repeated the story Dean had told her so often, about how she'd come to be with us. It had been almost impossible to get blood from her the past few visits to the vet, due to her lack of cooperation, or her veins being too small, or both... but this time, putting the catheter in her vein was very easy. I laid on the floor, with her on my chest, as the injections were given. I looked her in the eyes as best I could. She breathed for a surprisingly long time after the lethal shot. The vet had trouble telling when she had gone, because she said she could hear my heartbeat through Whimsy's body.

I'll get her ashes soon, and she'll go on my altar along with my other cats who have passed. I can still feel her around, as I was told I would, as I have felt all my other cats after they've passed. Glenn felt her move behind him tonight on the couch, when Smithers was in his office.

I was told, during the Journey, that Whimsy, and later, Smithers, would be a part of my life, as Guides, for years to come.

Of course. They always have been.
bookofmirrors: (Thoughtful)
My oldest cat, Neg, died today.

It was about 3am, and I was off-and-on sleeping. [personal profile] blckwngdorcl woke me up and said that Neg had just fallen off the bed, and wasn't getting up. We turned on the light, and he was lying there. I picked him up and put him on the bed. He was already limp at that point. I think I maybe caught him in the last few seconds of his physical life. I think I already knew this, which is why I wasn't racing around maniacally. I had [personal profile] blckwngdorcl pull his face out of the comforter, so he could breathe, and got a little mirror, which didn't fog when we put it in front of his face. We got dressed. It turned out that [personal profile] lunenoire was still up, so we drove to the Cobb Emergency Vet Clinic, after I had called ahead to make sure that someone was actually there, or if they just had people on call to meet you there.

It was less than a mile from our house. [personal profile] lunenoire drove, and I held Neg in the back seat. I think there was part of me thinking/hoping he was still alive, but deep down, I knew better. I could already feel the side of him that was away from my body getting cold in the short time that it took us to drive there. At one point, I just quietly told [personal profile] lunenoire that he didn't need to drive so fast.

The lady there was very sweet. She had an accent I couldn't place. I told her that I thought he was already dead, and she asked if I wanted them to just make sure. I said yes. His eyes were clearly glazing over at this point. I'd tried to close them earlier. Maybe it's different with cats, or maybe it's just not as easy as it looks in the movies. Anyway, they had stayed open. But she came back a few minutes later and confirmed what I already knew. I asked if they could determine a cause, and she said that the great majority of the time, in cases like this with cats, it was a heart problem, that he'd just had a heart attack.

Neg had been to the vet recently, for an upper respiratory infection, which I ended up letting get better on its own, since giving him the pills turned out to be traumatic for both of us. He did get better, though. He's been getting inexplicably thinner off and on for a while, but was otherwise in good health. I'd had him into the vet every year for a checkup, and his vaccines were actually about a month or two out of date, but honestly, I hadn't had the money to get any of them vaccinated this year, and I keep hearing those stories about how feline vaccines are given entirely too often, anyway, and that they shouldn't be given yearly in the first place, so I wasn't too concerned about that. So, honestly, even though my mind goes there, of course, I don't think there was anything more that could have been done for him. His brother, Mika, died of a heart attack when he was 5 years old, also after having had fabulous vet care and being considered healthy all his life, so I'm thinking there may be a connection. Mika's death was premature, however, since his heart attack was predicated by being chased by a (friendly) Rottweiler. So, there's some family history there.

Anyway, I filled out the paperwork to have him cremated. They gave us this fabulous little clay disk, into which they had written his name, and put his pawprint in. I wish I had one of those for Mika, but they didn't have those at the vet I went to at the time. I suppose the Emergency Clinic deals with more deaths than a normal vet. Mika had been cremated, a no-frills deal, and I ended up keeping his ashes in a little glass container that my mother had gotten for me. Warsaw Cut Glass, in my pattern, with Mika's name on the top, in block script. I want a matching one for Neg. Some of his ashes will be scattered in the back yard here, though, so part of him can always be outside.

Y'know, I've known for a bit that this would happen. Just known, but wasn't willing to really admit it, to myself, much less mention it to anyone else. Although [personal profile] lunenoire and [personal profile] blckwngdorcl both said that his energy had changed recently, to what they called an "old man" energy. I felt it, too, really. I knew his time was coming. Until the very last day, though, he still frolicked like a kitten, still raced around the house periodically, and still liked to bit my hands under the covers. He was a good cat. But I'd had a clear sense, which I ignored, that he wasn't going to the new apartment with us. That he was passing the torch.

Neg was the alpha of the household, the oldest, the one who was clearly a wise and old soul. I will miss him dearly. I hope he haunts me for a time, as his brother did for years, before I felt that he passed on fully. I believe he passed the torch to Loco, [personal profile] lunenoire's cat, which I find kinda interesting, 'cause I would have thought it would have been one of my cats, the more established cats in the household. Loco, however, is now the oldest male, and even though I don't think it always works that way, it just feels right. Loki, the oldest female, is the same age as Loco (10), so perhaps they will make a good team. I thought it almost uncanny how effortlessly Loco was introduced into the household. Now, perhaps, I think there was a purpose to that.

Anyway, I now have some phone calls to make. Two of which will likely be to my ex-husband and Fig, and maybe Frog, since I don't know how consistently he reads this. Neg was always my favorite, while Mika was everyone else's, except Frog's - Neg was his favorite, too.

I have a tattoo for Mika, on my outer left ankle, of the tribal Simba that Rafikki drew on the tree in The Lion King. I've always known that when Neg died, I would want a tattoo for him, as well. A rainbow on my outer right ankle. There are several meanings behind this. One is that we often called Neg "adventure cat", 'cause he always wanted to have adventures, get outside, et cetera. I figure "over the rainbow" is a pretty big adventure. Plus, we always thought he was gay. The female cats (Whimsy and Ashira, anyway) always wanted to be around him, and he never really had anything to do with them, but he would fairly frequently mount his brother, and Murke. So, y'know, the whole rainbows and gay thing. And I suppose that Rainbow Bridge poem ties in to that, as well, although that wasn't really on my mind when I came up with a rainbow to represent him for myself. *shrug* Like so many other things in my life, it'll need to wait until I have the money.

Fare thee well, Neg. I hope you find all the adventures you always wanted in life. I love you.

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