About two weeks ago, you stopped eating or drinking, started lying around more, became nicer. I’m not sure if this happened slowly and I didn’t notice until the kids came home from college and said “what happened to Kitty?” or whether it happened overnight. I’m going with the overnight version so that my fragile self image as a responsible pet owner can remain intact.
Vet visits and labwork and IV fluids and medications and credit cards were mixed together in various combinations. You continued to fade away despite it all, calmly waiting for us to realize that your time with us was up, your purring, zen-like presence starkly contrasting with your suddenly cachectic frame.
We will miss that epinephrine surge we used to get when we never knew if, when we approached you, we might encounter Docile Kitty or Psychojungle Kitty. We will miss the feisty way you stood up to the dogs, who never had any intention of crossing your path, much less making eye contact with you, but you were not one to take chances.
We will miss your gentle purring as you lay between our heads at night, the 2am scratching on the headboard, telling us your food dish needing topping off, the 3am yowling sparring matches between you and your arch enemy, Boots, the 4 am coughing and vomiting of hair balls.
Though your nocturnal presence could be exhausting, your daytime presence was full of peace. Watching you doze in baskets, on beds, in cardboard boxes, under bushes, in planters, on computer keyboards, laps, or on top of a napping child filled our hearts with peace as well.
I will try to forget those abscesses that mysteriously appeared on random body parts over the years (“Mom! Didn’t you notice her right eye is swollen shut?” “Mom, didn’t you notice her left cheek is huge?”) or the intense feelings of guilt when I accidentally locked you in the closet and didn’t miss you for three days (responsible pet owner self image: shattered).
I will especially try to forget the overwhelming sadness on my 22 year old daughter’s face when she realized it was time to say good bye to you.
But I will remember the joy on that same wide-eyed 7 year old face when she realized that the kitten climbing out of my car and onto her right shoulder, always the right shoulder, was hers to love, not just for 15 years, but forever.