I grew up with cats in the house. When I was born there were already two ruling the home. Bashful, a black shorthair who was anything but bashful, and his sister from a later litter, Lucky. Bashful used to sleep in the crib with me when I was a baby. Lucky was a bit more skittish. Snowball, my big white furball, joined the house in 1982 shortly before my father passed away.
When Bashful died, he simply went out one day. Into the woods around our house, which he loved, and never came back. Lucky was put to sleep a few years later, because she was just frail. Snowball went into kidney failure in 1994. I was not in college at the time, but slated to return in 1995. So I managed to talk my mom into getting another cat “so she wouldn’t be lonely.” Ha ha.
We went to the local no-kill shelter, and despite my life-long animal allergies, I was in heaven in the cat room. Sitting in a chair with cats rubbing against me and hopping into my lap, what more could I want? She ended up picking two to come back to the house. One big black and white male named Choo Choo, and a little standoffish tortishell named Honey.
Honey did not like other cats. Her perch at the shelter was indeed that: a carpet-covered plank set into the wall with her own dishes. Any cat which came up there got hit. My mom said she felt a sympathy for the cat, which is why she picked her.
Choo Choo was everything you could want in a cat, friendly and loving. Honey was not. She was not big on the petting, or being too near you, or anything like that.
About a year after we got them, Choo Choo went back to the shelter, because he bit my mom one day when she was cleaning blood off Honey. In retrospect, Honey had probably provoked it.
Even as a truly solitary cat, Honey did not change that much. When I would come home from school, then move back home in 1997, she didn’t want much to do with me. I think I was some scary stranger who just would not go away. She got used to my presence but never really sought me out.
Then there’s the tale of why you see the cat you see in that photo. In September 2001, about a week after planes flew into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Honey went out one night… and did not come back. Two days, three, four… and my mom and I resigned ourselves to the idea of her not returning. Then, a week later, and I will never forget this. It was a Thursday night (notable because I usually went out to the local goth night on Thursdays), and I was home on the computer. Mom got home, came up the stairs, and said “Honey’s out on the lawn.”
Indeed she was. Got her into the house, and she was very clearly spooked. She was also heavily favoring her left leg, so something was wrong. A visit to the vet the next day produced a diagnosis: punctured nerve in the left leg. There were two options for treatment: either amputate the leg or put her to sleep. I spoke in favor of getting a second opinion. That produced the same response.
For the week or so after this happened, Honey was a kitty in a crutch. A metal crutch wrapped around her injured leg. I have physical photos of this, which I should scan in one day. It was actually kind’ve cute to see her hobbling around in this, even though she was in a lot of pain. Interestingly, she was also more okay with being pet now. I would do Reiki on her, and she seemed to respond well to it. But in the end, there were no third options, and her leg was amputated.
She recovered pretty quickly from it and learned how to move around with only three legs. She could still run through the house and jump over and on to things with no problem, but there was no more outside time for her. Well, almost. She would go on to the deck when the weather was nice. It was safe too; she never would jump off it when she had four legs. (The deck is about 7 feet off the ground.)
So the little three-legged one went on living, and got more affectionate. Perhaps it was the shock of losing a leg, or perhaps it was gratitude for us taking care of her. She wanted pets. She wanted to rub against you. She would even be less inclined to run and hide when company came over.
She kept on living, demanding food and pets, and wanting more time around me, and generally living the good feline life. Her health has been slowly declining over the years, but not too badly. Last fall, she had what I shall call an incident of mass expelling (I’m trying to be delicate here), and mom and I were both worried that this was it. She managed to recover though, but we both knew she was coming to her end.
While this week has not been dramatically horrific for her (at least as far as we know) it’s time. She’s failing. To let her continue her decline, when we can’t do much of anything to comfort her, is cruel. I am writing up this post scant hours before her final vet appointment, which was yesterday afternoon. She HATES getting in the carrier, but hopefully we can keep her calm. And then she’s just not coming home.
When she got in the carrier yesterday, it was even more clear that the time was right. Normally when she got in there, she cried and howled. Yesterday, very little noise. The vet, who’d seen her just a few weeks ago for a checkup, remarked as to how much she’d changed in just a few weeks.
I feel very sad, and I am definitely missing her. But I’ve been dealing with death since I was very young. I know full well that it is part of life, and one death does not mean that the world completely falls apart. So I guess I have perspective. And how often do you know exactly when anything living will die? It’s not a shock. I think that is the worst part, more than the loss.
Honey, aka Her Highness, Pirate Kitty, Kitteh with the belleh (belly), and many other nicknames.
1992 or 1993 – March 29, 2012
May the Great Cats beyond welcome you into the fold.