Shadow is gone.
A year and a half ago, she started peeing a lot more. So much that my girlfriend and I had to switch her to crystal desiccant cat litter because her clumping automatic litter box was getting jammed three times a week.
Then a couple of months ago, she began losing weight. I thought she was simply getting old (She was 13 or 14 years old.). But she continued losing weight. We tried moistening her kibble, but she wouldn’t eat that either. We gave her (lactose-free) milk occasionally to get some nutrients into her. We gave her canned food. She took to that at first, but she still didn’t eat much. She occasionally vomited what she did eat. We looked up her symptoms in our cat medical book and everything pointed to kidney problems, including her very bad breath.
While all this was going on, we kept our eyes out for signs of pain and illness. We both have had cats all our lives, so we know that cats retreat when they hurt. Shadow became more lovey-dovey in the past few weeks. She had always been somewhat distant. Her name came from her habit of following us from room to room, but staying just out of reach. She started greeting us as we got out of the shower. She didn’t care that she got dripped on. Many mornings I was surprised to wake up with her on the bed. She was much more vocal than before. She got underfoot in the kitchen. She liked exploring the running faucet in the bathroom. That was very unusual. Shadow was pretty, but she was kinda dumb. It kept her out of trouble. But in the past few weeks, Shadow seemed to get a brain-boost. She was suddenly interested in things, like the sink. She was jumping up on the counter and the kitchen table to check things out.
Turns out that all this new behavior actually was a sign that something was wrong. I took her to the vet today. She was down to four pounds from her normal twelve pounds. They sedated her to examine something they saw in her mouth. She had an infection and what they think was a tumor on the roof of her mouth, extending into her sinuses. It had gotten into her blood stream and affected her kidneys and given her a urinary tract infection. She must have been feeling really shitty, but she never let on to us how bad she felt. She was going to rapidly deteriorate. She stayed under sedation until we got there to say goodbye. I stayed with her when she went. It was peaceful and quick.
She doesn’t hurt any more.
If Tumblr search works, you can see lots of her here. (Entering Shadow in the Google search bar on my page works better.)
Goodbye, pretty kitty.
Only you could have a heart so huge that it needed two households to contain it. When I met my husband, you and I were living on our own. You had a spazz path well worn into the walls, floor, windows and ceiling of that little condo. You had hidey holes filled with q-tips and ball point pens that you stole from me. You constantly flinged yourself onto the top of the vanity light bank that was almost as high as the ceiling and pretended you couldn’t get down. Until I finally learned you were playing me like a Playstation. And I loved you for it.
Mr. Zoom tried to be around you, but his childhood asthma kicked in and there were very real consequences for him. Hospitalization type consequences. So you can imagine his terror upon our deciding to get married … What about Slausen? What would we do?
My heart broke as I did the thing I swore I would never do. Give up a pet for a relationship. My parents, realizing this was their last chance to unload me on some sucker, told me they would take you in. They already had a dog and quite honestly, they weren’t accustomed to cat ownership. In fact, dad used to tell flattened cat jokes all the time. I knew he’d never hurt you, but I worried slightly that he’d resent you eventually. Mom assured me everything would work out.
Within two weeks dad wasn’t telling cat jokes anymore. He had stories about you and how you liked to jump in the sink and ask him to turn the water on so you could drink it while it practically shot up your nose. You loved water, you fantastic freak. Loved it so much that dad would fill the tub and you would trot around the edge until you slid into the water. Then you would shoot out like a firework - and be back for more before the water from your coat hit the floor.
I knew you had won their hearts when you ran straight through their screen door, leaving one of those cartoon holes in it with the flaps of screen hanging at various angles. Dad couldn’t wait to call and tell me about it and it wasn’t because he was upset about the screen. It was because he was so relieved that you hadn’t gotten your indoor cat kibble belly in serious trouble by running off into the outside. You were safe and that’s all they cared about.
I watched my parents fall in love with you. They were retired and ready to cut loose and travel the country. They bought a giant truck and an airstream trailer, specifically with you in mind. They were taking you on vacation, dammit, because they could not bear the idea of not having you by their side. I knew the feeling well.
Then we felt the lump. It was on your chin. The vet said the words we were so afraid were coming, “cancer.” We decided as a family that at 12 years old, we would let you have your remaining time with us as naturally as you could. The vet said that chemo was an option, but not a realistic one. And you would have been so sick.
That was a year ago.
We lost you two days ago.
I knew the time was soon when this past Christmas Eve at the family dinner you determinedly made your way onto my lap, and rather than going for the prime rib, you crawled onto my chest and laid your head on my shoulder. I willed my thoughts into your furry consciousness. “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I get the feeling you are trying to comfort ME, and I feel like a coward because I know my family is going to shield me from your pain, when it comes. You do realize that the longer you fight this, the more trips you get to go on, right? Keep fighting, little chainsaw, keep fighting. I love you.” You let me hold you that way for a while before you used my boobs as a springboard to do cartwheels down the hall to some pitch of circus music that only cats can hear.
I will miss you violently. Life without you will forever be just that much short of perfect, no matter what joy awaits me. May you forever have ball point pens and hearts to steal.