Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh yeah. The cats have a blog.

But this isn't a post from the cats. It's from the human. It's about me.

I was sharing a link on Facebook, and found myself writing way too much in the comment area. I realized most of my friends probably don't want to hear more about my cats. I shared the link and wrote a brief comment. But I still felt like writing out how I felt after reading this essay posted to The New York Times last night. It really touched me.

The headline is brilliant, by the way. It is: "We were kittens once, and young." The copy editor who wrote that is the real deal.

Anyway, there's so much to appreciate about this essay. It's about cats, so obviously that's something I can relate to. But this essay wasn't just about loving cats. Or understanding cats. Or "Oh, aren't cats so independent or funny, and don't they have so much personality!?"

It's about them dying.

I've experienced few pet deaths in my life; I wasn't allowed to have pets other than fish as a child. I took really good care of all my pet fish. When I was a youngster, I would stick a finger in the tank and try to "pet" them. They lived long fish lives.

When I met my husband, he already had two pet ferrets. They have what I consider to be short life spans. Peanut died suddenly. It was hard, and it was my first experience with losing a "real" pet. My cellphone ringtone at the time was "Minerva" by the Deftones - I will forever associate that song with the phone call from the vet at 4 a.m. telling us Peanut didn't make it through the night. Oh did I cry.

Fiona's death was peaceful. I came home from work one night and noticed she wasn't moving very well in her cage. We took her to the emergency vet, and they couldn't do much for her. We weren't with Peanut when she died, and I have felt guilty about that. So, we took Fiona home. My husband stayed home from work with the little girl the next day. She died in his arms. I wouldn't want it any other way.

"All of our cats are dying" is how the writer began her essay.

And mine will be, too, and I fear it will happen in what will feel like "all at once." This is something I've thought about in the past year, as the visits to the vet increase. I fear that in about five to eight years, I'm going to have a really tough five to eight years.

Bogdan is skinnier. He's had urinary problems. I have to watch his diet. But the most apparent indication of his age? He's not a jerk anymore. No, seriously.

He hated the other cats. He hated me. He seemed to hate everything. He's attacked friends and family members. He's bitten my nose, my lips, my hands, my feet! I used to have to warn people who came into my home to not get too close to him. I loved it. He was my little jerk. And I loved every second of it.

Next month he'll be 10 years old. Young by indoor-only cat standards, but I can see he's aging, and he's my first kitty cat. Watching him get older is getting harder.

As for the other kitties, Sara is 8, according to the rescue organization I got her from - but I think she is older; Kat3 just turned 7; Jeff is only about 4. Then there's the outdoor cats I've become attached to. I figure George and Toulouse are also about 4.

I know, their deaths are years and years off. I shouldn't worry about this now. But with George at the vet right now, recovering from a urinary blockage; with Kat3 sitting by me this morning wheezing away, making terrible noises because of the damage done to her nasal cavity when she was a stray kitten; with Toulouse coming home with another sore on her back Tuesday; and with Bogdan's coat starting to look like "old-man kitty fur" - I couldn't help but think that these little spirits, who have become essential to my being, won't be here forever.


Ayla, Iza, and Marley said...

Damn, I had a long comment and it didn't post! I'll try again...

I've been around cats most of my life. But I haven't had many grow old and die in my adult years. One died in her sleep at age 12, the other simply vanished one day. Both were in seemingly good health.

In 1992, on a whim, I got a kitten (Skeeter). The following year, I got another (LC). When Skeeter was 14, I had that sudden "You're old" moment. The following year, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. I had the same "you're old" moment with LC at the same time.

Skeeter had his final vet visit in 2008. I cried for weeks (and still do sometimes). LC died suddenly at home (some sort of infection) 13 months later. So I understand what you fear.

Yes, you are going to have a few bad years in the future. It will hard.

We are fortunate to have the Cat Blogosphere. When my previous one died in 1984, I was alone and no one really cared about my loss. When Skeeter and LC died, there were so many wonderful friends who sent kind words of sympathy.

It helped. It will help you too, when the time comes. We are here.

I have 3 cats now, aged 3, 2, and 7 months. I know I have set myself up for those few bad years sometime around 2025. I had once planned to get an additional cat every 5 years so that wouldn't happen, but it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.

But I know that "you're old" moment is going to happen again someday. I offer my understanding to you about having that moment for the first time. It is always hard but the first time is the hardest...

I can tell you that it will help to write about their aging years. It's partly why I started my own blog.

I hope all the cats remain with you in good health for many years. But we will be here for you when the sad news starts.


Daisy said...

Daisy's "mom" here:
Daisy just turned 7, and even though it is only "middle-aged" for a cat, it is still melancholy for me to know she is getting older. I can't even imagine my life without her, or Harley.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

I too understand the moment when you suddenly realize your cat has become old. I hate the good-bye part but it comes with having pets. And like Mark said, I hope you have many good years left with all of yours, but when the time does come for each, you won't be alone.


Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

When Punkin was diagnosed with cancer my first thought was "no, she can't go, I love her to much" and she was only 10 years old. I had a hard time coming to terms with it. Now Zippy is 14, how'd she get so old so fast? I know I'm going to lose her too. And Sadie, she's 11, will go and so will Speedy but I'm hoping it will be years before any of them leave me. It hurts, I mean physically hurts to think about it. It hurts even worse when it happens. I'm thankful that I have family and friends who aren't the kind who say "it was only a cat".

Findlay Furs said...

My very first cat came into my life when I was 3 years old, he passed when I was 20, and now 14 years later thinking of him I need a tissue to wipe my tears. . It will always hurt losing them, I don't think that feeling ever goes away. But I would rather have that heart break and loss feeling that to live my life without a furry kitty.

Don’t think about how someday how they won’t be around anymore (I desperately try not to), just enjoy them. Sure its tougher and there are more vet visits as they age but as they age you just love them for what they become. And when you look back at all the memories it’s worth it, definitely worth having your life shared with a cat, even when your heart breaks.

The scary thing for me is losing a younger cat, fear that they won’t grow old is just so unfair. I was more scared of losing Luke to a sickness last year that watching Sissy get old. At 18 years old she is skinny and her grooming skills are lacking, but she is my little old stinky lady and I have had the most immense pleasure being her mommy that I think its partially selfishness that I wouldn’t be a mommy that long to Luke and that scared me. Thankfully they are both here fighting and giving me the best thing in life – furry kitty love!

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Happy Birthday, Bogdan! Hope you are all well and enjoying some nice weather.

Charlemagne and Tamar said...

Our Momma thinks about this too, sometimes and she gets teary-eyed. We'll stay with her and Daddy as long as we can because we know they need us to look after them.

Cuddling with us seems to help chase the teary eyes away and we try to tell her to focus on the here and now.

Charlemagne, Tamar and Mal

Honey P. Sunshine said...

tell your mom to go to
there is alink with the 10 top pearl jam songs and vidoes, see mr. eddie (yum) is all hi glory