The art of saying goodbye…

silly OreoHis mother was a barn cat, brought to our building to have her kittens. Then he and his littermates were placed in a cardboard box labeled “Free Kittens” and brought downstairs to the lobby. I knew nothing about this until after the fact, it was my neighbour and former friend who informed me that she’d got the last kitten, one who looked just like Angel except he had a black nose.

The former friend picked him up on a whim and, three months later, gave him to us because she no longer wanted three cats. Of course she blamed her father at the time but I watched her abandon four more pets in a couple more years and, well, she can’t blame him for everything. And, yes, that’s why we’re no longer friends.

But I digress. Oreo became ours then, still a kitten but an older kitten. We quickly realized he’s a complete and utter clown who routinely sleeps on his back with all four paws in the air. He’s also known for his tongue bleps, those times when a cat’s tongue sticks out and stays out. He’ll even fall asleep on his back with a tongue blep so his tongue is falling towards his nose.

When Oreo was a young cat he was an excellent mouser, something I likely would never have known if our neighbour wasn’t as bad at containing his live snake food as Oreo was good at catching it. We lived on the third floor of a highrise so they weren’t just wandering in on their own. These days though, he’s nearly fourteen. I have the feeling that if a mouse ran past, he’d look at it and go back to sleep if he a) even woke up or b) could see it. He’s passed that task on to Smudge and Lara, who will likely never see a mouse in their lives.

Oreo has always been the “good child”. Good natured, even tempered, friendly with everyone. Angel hisses at the other cats when they get too close, Blackie needs careful monitoring and CBD oil because she’ll wet in corners, Lara grabs your hand when she wants to get petted… and often forgets to retract her claws, and Smudge likes hiding and jumping on Angel to get a reaction. Oreo does none of that. He just sleeps cute, licks compulsively when his back is scratched, and purrs like a motor when it’s feeding time. Oreo loves his food. So, unfortunately, Oreo gets a bit overlooked. It’s easier to see the others when they’re Right In My Face. Which is why the last time he saw a vet was when he got neutered at 6 months old. He turns fourteen on September 15th.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out about the Iams Checkup Challenge. I’ll delete the link when it expires but, basically, it’s open to Canadian residents until July 31, 2021. You go out and buy $40+ of Iams food in one go before taxes (they have a list of qualifying products) and keep the receipt. Then you take your pet to the vet for a checkup and keep that receipt too. Finally you go onto their website before the end of August and upload a picture of both receipts. They’ll reimburse you up to $150 before taxes either through Paypal (which cost me $1 processing fee) or by cheque (which takes three weeks). Finally! This was Oreo’s chance to see the vet… and the first time out of the apartment (other than moving) in thirteen years.

He 110% did not like leaving the apartment and started yowling before we even reached the elevators. We live beside the elevators. Luckily for both of us, the vet office is directly across the street. Due to covid I couldn’t go inside. Instead I called into the office and then the vet called me back so I could voice any concerns and then they brought Oreo in.

I mentioned the lump on his side but also that it had been there for several years and never changed shape. Then I decided I might as well tell her about the other lump too, the one I figured was probably a pimple of some sort or maybe a small boil. The location bugged me, a nipple seemed like an odd spot for a pimple to form.

They scooped up Oreo and went inside, leaving me on the sidewalk without even a chair. At least it wasn’t raining (there was a 90% of rain). And then the phone rang. That lump on his nipple… it wasn’t any sort of pimple. It was a tumour with a 90% to 95% chance of being aggressively malignant. There’s no such thing as easily treatable or relatively easily treatable breast cancer. All the nipples on that side are connected so the vet can’t simply remove the lump, she’d have to remove that whole side. And, since it’s highly aggressive, there’s a good chance it’s already in his lungs and/or lymph nodes so he’d need a chest x-ray first. No point in doing hugely invasive surgery if his lungs are riddled with tumours.

She’s talking and all I could think was “what’s the cost?”. And I don’t just mean financially, although that is a definite concern. What is the cost to Oreo? We adopted Oreo in 2008 and he didn’t leave the apartment again (other than getting neutered) until 2012 and that was to go into a carrier, into a car, and then out of the carrier into the new apartment. And then again in 2020 with the same routine. He doesn’t know the outside world. He doesn’t like the outside world. Blackie and the twins will sometimes venture into the hallway outside our apartment. Oreo and Angel don’t even try. Oreo would be miserable with multiple vet visits and terrified by staying at the hospital… especially in pain and attached to things. And it’s not permanent, he’s got a 50% of it coming back in a year even with the treatment.

He’s not a kitten, he’s an old cat. Her next news was that his gums are bad and he’s lost most of his teeth. Her final news was that he has cataracts but still seems to be able to see. I’ll keep the furniture where it is, just in case. I have a mini trampoline (a rebounder if you’re fancy) at the foot of my bed and my senior kittens use it as a step up. Blackie uses it just fine. Angel uses it during the day but she’s sore by bedtime and needs to be lifted up from the trampoline. Oreo? He doesn’t even make it into my room. He just cries from wherever he is then I lift him and carry him to the bed. No point in leaving his poor bones on a hard floor. Maybe if he was as young as the twins and bounding around the apartment I’d have a harder decision but he’s not. I’m not going to fight, and pay a fortune, to have him “cured” so he can get carried from the kitchen into the bedroom because his joints hurt to much to walk. The phrase “pick your battles” comes to mind. Sometimes you just have to walk away, even if it hurts.

To be truthful, I want him to continue on being Oreo forever. Bumbling through life forever cheerful, being a total goofball but being real… genuine. It’s not often that pure goodness comes into your life. It has for me and I don’t want it to go. But that’s the art of saying goodbye. Everything comes to an end. There’d be no room for beginnings if nothing ever ended.

And so I watch Oreo, sprawled across the cat mat under the table. His eyes are bright as he waits in anticipation for a head scratch and a scratch under the chin. Later, before I go to bed, he’ll sit beside the stove and yowl until the other cats join him and I relent and sprinkle cat treats on the floor. And, at some point when my room is dark, I’ll climb out from under the covers to carry Oreo to bed. His life will have happiness, peace, and routine until it’s time to say goodbye and may I have the art to know when that time is.

Love has whiskers…

1st pictureCN: mention of suicidal thoughts

Five years ago this past Saturday, two white kittens were born. I, of course, had no idea of this. I had no intention of getting kittens any time soon. I had bought my wedding dress the day before and plane tickets to visit my fiance in England two weeks earlier. My life was planned out in ways that did not involve kittens in Canada. We’d roughly planned most of our small wedding and ogled wedding rings (he’d urged me to get my finger sized as soon as possible). We even picked out which town to live in. I just needed to save up and stay sane. Unfortunately the latter one was proving to be increasingly difficult.

I admitted that I was suicidal at the beginning of May and he broke up with me two days later. Then I finally went into the hospital a month later and he blocked me everywhere the morning after I was released.

2nd pictureTo say I was devastated would be an understatement. We’d been friends for half a decade and best friends for most of that. I trusted him completely and implicitly. He knew my deepest secrets and I’d felt that he’d always be there for me. Always turned out to be a very short time. Breaking up is horrible at the best of times, breaking up while deeply depressed and suicidal is absolutely horrific. And throwing my best friend into the mix made it even worse. I remember one night, messaging a friend and begging her to please stay online and chat with me. I wanted to die so badly and the urge to jump was so strong. I couldn’t do it while Colin was there but he was at Youth Group for another half an hour. The balcony pulled like a magnet and the thought, “just a moment [in the air] then it’s over” looped on repeat. Thankfully she stayed on messenger and chatted until Colin was home and I felt safe enough. I honestly don’t think I’d be here if she hadn’t. And then I had a dream.

It was one of those dreams that faded almost as soon as I woke up, leaving only the smallest pieces behind. And one of those small pieces was the image of a white cat. It lingered with me all morning right through us heading out, me to the lab for bloodwork and Colin to the pet supply store for, well, pet supplies. I noticed a cat adoption sign outside as I walked past and thought of that white cat then I decided I couldn’t be that lucky. I was unlucky in one way, the lab had stopped serving people who weren’t patients at that clinic, but I was lucky in another. When I asked Colin if there was a white cat up for adoption he informed me the only cats there were two white kittens. We immediately went to take a look.

Of course we held them. Of course we fell in love. And while I was waffling hard about which one to choose, Colin came up with a plan. Why didn’t we each adopt one? And so we did. It wasn’t that simple. They only took cash which necessitated a run to the grocery store and multiple transactions before we had enough paper money to cover both their fees. And we ran into Dollarama to pick up supplies to kitten proof my balcony (it was like the Fort Knox of balconies… I kitten proofed up to 6 feet, you know, in case they could jump really high).

And soon we were home, watching them nose around, sticking closely together. Our other three cats stuck together too and watched those little balls of fluff roam around. Thankfully everyone settled in soon.

For anyone who’s suicidal, I can’t recommend kittens strongly enough. One of them gets lonely… you can get three if you really want to spice things up… but two is perfect. Smudge and Lara were so small when they got here, small enough to crawl under the dresser and bookcase. And both still wanted to nurse. Smudge latched on (literally) to my stuffed lamb Rufus while Lara suckled on a bemused Blackie’s chest fur. Which was cute except they’d forget to go eat real food. Instead their nursing got more and more frantic as their hunger increased. I was already restless and awake multiple times a night but now it was with purpose. I was listening for that frenetic sucking then lifting them over to my side table where I’d placed their kitten food and a little bowl of water. Then I’d wait for them to finish and ferry them back to bed. This happened until dawn, which is damn early in the summer, when they wanted to go outside and play on my balcony. And I’d sit with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the sunrise and enjoy them playing with toys and each other.

The biggest part was that they needed me. I was lost. I couldn’t find myself. I wasn’t sure I was even worth finding. They didn’t care. They loved me and trusted me implicitly. I remember waking up once as Smudge, who was rolling around on her back, rolled right off the edge of the bed. And I caught her. It was one of those “I can’t believe I managed that” moments. Then I looked into her eyes and all I saw was trust. She had complete faith in me that I’d always catch her… that I’d always be there for her. It was definitely a moment for me, a realization that I couldn’t just off and kill myself. I could make excuses for family and friends that they have other people around… people with stronger connections… but that trusting innocence? She would never understand why I was gone and why I never returned – and no one could explain it to her.

I’ve got friends and family who love me dearly but, honestly, it’s not the same. Love often comes with strings attached, like guilt or embarrassment. Animals just give you love. They loved me for me. Not who I should be, not who someone thinks I am, not who I was ten or twenty or thirty years ago. Me. Right here, right now. They’re the glue that’s been slowly help stick this heart back together again, one piece at a time.

3rd pictureLara is the clown of the two. She’s chubbier and the one people see the most as she runs for the door as if it’s for her. She also likes to check in on zoom calls. I often have scratch marks on my arms and legs as she pats me for attention and doesn’t always remember to retract her claws. And she’s also the sweetheart of the group. If one cat’s going to be snuggling with another, you can be sure Lara was the instigator and often the one grooming too (as you can see in their birthday photo).

Smudge is the quiet introvert. She sleeps on my swing chair or perches on the table above everyone. She’s the only one who does either and I’ve long since given up on the table as she jumps back up the second I put her down (over and over). When she gets tired of the world, she retreats to a box in my closet, which she lies on. I’ve padded it with a soft dog blanket now to make it comfy. She play fights with Lara and gets along with the others but otherwise stays alone. Except for me. Every time I sit in the swing chair she lies on my chest, purrs in my ear, drools into my hair, and waits for a belly rub. She does this so often that one side of her is faintly blue from rubbing against my hair.

Smudge and Lara were born on the Vernal Equinox, the time when day and night are equal. A time of promise for more light and hope ahead. For two cats who spread joy to everyone who meets them, I can’t imagine a day more suited for their birth.

Happy 5th birthday! You two are the best kittens ever and deserve all the skritches and all the treaty-treaties and all the crinkle balls and plastic springs. I wish you many more happy years and I’m looking forward to spending them with you.

A cat and mouse tale…

If you want to know what kind of day I’m having, I can tell you. It’s a “which cat pooped in the food bowl?” kind of day. Although to be fair I think it was more of an Olympic kitty litter kick kind of incident and not an actual squat over the dish. The end result is the same though.

It pales in comparison to my experiences exactly two weeks ago.

Angel sleeping on my bed filteredFirst I saw my grandson on Saturday and shortly after got a gazillion scrapbooking kits (where a gazillion equals six). The next day was Valentine’s Day my cat Angel’s 15th birthday which is obviously very important and required plenty of attention, yummy food, and her favourite stuffed catnip carrot. I didn’t get much done on the computer that day. And finally Monday rolled around and I decided to devote the day to scrapbooking. The kits were already downloaded and sorted into the right folders and albums (I’m just a little organized) and all I needed to do was save my pictures from Google to My Photos then I was good to go.

Except the mouse. just. stopped. Right there in the middle of the screen.

Okay, that was irritating. Obviously the battery must have died, the downside of having a wireless mouse. So I got a freshly charged battery and nothing. Tried Ctrl-Alt-Del and tabbed my way to the shut down menu then the computer restarted with a frozen mouse. Moved the dongle to several different ports and… nothing. I even pulled the second mouse out of the closet (it was a set of two) and that one didn’t work either. At this point I was getting worried and so I called Colin.

His first suggestion was to try remote desktop which, luckily he’d already installed on my computer so I had no problems added it to my phone. I must say that trying to repair a computer by controlling the cursor via a tiny phone screen and one finger ranks just above getting a root canal.

*thinks for a moment*

Marginally

I tried for hours, both with and without Colin, before giving up. I uninstalled that damn mouse so many times!!! Colin wished that I could try with a wired mouse but I didn’t have one and didn’t have any money to go buy one so that was out. His only solution was for me to buy an SSD drive and then he’d coach me, via video chat, on how to transfer all my files over and then format my hard drive. You can imagine my enthusiasm.

Then I remembered my friend has an older computer and, sure enough she had a wired mouse and it worked!!! So we traded mice because my mouse worked just fine on her laptop. And, because of anxiety, it took me two days before I attempted to finish downloading those pictures and over a week before I could bring myself to complete this post. But there hasn’t been a single hint of trouble from the computer since we traded mice and I (thankfully) haven’t needed to buy a new drive of any sort.

And I still don’t know who the Olympic poop flinger is although, if I had to play money, I’d place my bet on Smudge. Then, a couple of days before the flinging incident, I had to give Blackie Boo a bath. She thought I was trying my hardest to drown her which made bath time very enthusiastic with lots of extra bath toys in the water like the pot scrubbie and the dish soap and very nearly a small vase of artificial flowers. Poor kitty. I picked her up to put her on my bed and she started flailing like it was bath time round two. She seems over it now, hopefully, or well maybe I should keep checking my slippers before I wear them for just a little longer. Just in case.

Above: Angel on her birthday
Below: Angel’s birthday layout (because that’s not extra at all). It’s the first layout I made after the computer started working again.
 
Angel's 15th birthday

Black Cat Appreciation Day…

Blackie relaxing

She’s so not a help when it comes to making the bed

Yesterday was Black Cat Appreciation Day or, as Blackie knows it, just another day. She got fed her favourite food and had cat treats sprinkled in front of her. She meowed imperiously from the bathroom and got fresh cold water poured into her nowhere near empty bowl. She rolled onto her back and mrowfed for belly rubs. She got her head skritched and her back stroked. When she got sleepy she napped on my bed or the bench. When she got curious she “hid” in the cardboard box or on a kitchen chair. Life’s good for Blackie.

We need to go back to 2007 to when the kids and I had flown to British Columbia for two weeks to celebrate my sister’s wedding and attend my grandfather’s memorial service. It was a wonderful family gathering of almost thirty people and we came home in good spirits to find a rather distraught cat sitter and a skeletal orange tabby.

“He just wouldn’t eat,” she explained, brushing back tears.

I made an emergency trip to the vet where tests showed our cat Pumpkin had cancer. He was euthanized the next day.

Two months later we were ready to welcome a new rescue into our home and knew just where to go. A friend volunteered with an animal rescue that worked out of PetSmart and offered to go in with us. We quickly fell in love with a three year old grey tabby and set to filling out adoption papers. That’s where we ran into problems. We lived in a high rise with a balcony and even though we lived on the third floor, the owner of the shelter was positive he was going to get out, leap over the chest high concrete wall and plummet to his death. She eventually turned us down.

So we went to the Humane Society. I told the volunteer that we wanted an older cat and she started leading us to the back past all the younger cats. Kait and Colin immediately pointed out a young kitten named Pete. I immediately pointed out that his eyes were both crusty and weeping. That sounded unnecessarily expensive to me.

The lady was waiting for us by the older cats when Kait said, “Mom! Look! This cat’s licking me!”

She giggled as I turned to look at an adolescent cat cheerfully licking Kait’s fingers. Kait bent down and the cat licked her nose. More giggles ensued.

The volunteer started walking toward us. “The older cats are all down there,” she said with a touch of impatience in her voice. She looked over at the cat we were clustered around and the impatience disappeared.

“Oh! You’re looking at one of our black cats! Let me get her out for you! Her name’s Blackie and she’s nine months old. She’s had all her shots and is spayed…”

She continued her speil while we oohed and aahed over the kitten. Soon the paperwork was signed, the fees were paid, and she was ours. We already had Angel at that point and the two of them settled in well together, they still get along.

That was a long time ago. Blackie’s going to be 14 years old in December. We picked Christmas Eve to be her birthday figuring that Christmas Day would be too busy. She’s lived in three different apartments and has had two health scares. One turned out to be her teeth and the other is a mystery, she just stopped eating for several weeks. She’s going a bit senile and sometimes misjudges the edge of the litter box and pees on the floor but otherwise she’s fine.

She has brought me so much joy and companionship over the last 13 years. I hope we have many more years together! You’re amazing Blackie Boo!

Blackie and Lara

Blackie and Lara

 

One more day until Christmas…

I’m in a nostalgic mood today. Something’s off with Blackie. I don’t know what. She’s eating, drinking, and using the litter box. It’s something I can’t put my finger on. She turns 13 years old tomorrow so she’s definitely a senior kitten. And then there’s Angel, my most senior kitten who turns 14 years old in February. She growls at the other cats and has arthritis in her hips. But pain medication doesn’t work on cats, or so my vet told me. She’s happy as could be once she’s snuggled up someplace soft but her back legs are noticeably weaker.

So when I went to look for a song this morning, I decided to pick one that I loved decades ago when I was pregnant with Kait. Back then my favourite CDs were Solitudes. I loved how he wove nature sounds into his music. I didn’t have any problems finding Solitudes music on YouTube. My problem was finding a single song. So I present to you the entire CD of Christmas Wonder. Listen to as much or as little as you want… and enjoy!

The Operation…

Yesterday found Colin and I up and getting ready at 7:15am. The cat carrier was ready to Colin’s liking, absolutely stuffed full of blankets so Blackie wouldn’t get cold (she’d overheated by the time she got to the vet). Then he looked at me and said, “Mom, don’t forget your bag!”

My bag? Oh my purse! I’ve never forgot my purse before and reminded him of that. Then we bundled up, stuck Blackie in her nest, and slogged out through the snow. We’d been standing at the bus stop for several minutes before I went to reach into my purse for a Kleenex and my purse wasn’t there. I’d left it at home. At that point the bus was due in one minute so there was no time to run home and grab it. I was pretty sure I could get on the bus, not so sure I could take the bus home. Colin was grudgingly willing to walk home with me but so grudgingly I knew I’d get attitude and snark the whole way back. So I walked home by myself instead, leaving Blackie and him at the bus stop.

I’d barely got home when my phone was ringing. It was the vet. Of course Colin had no idea when Blackie last drank or ate. That got sorted out and we were told to expect a call to pick her up around 4pm.

I’m in the middle of switching meds and am quite depressed at the moment so the afternoon was full of worst case scenarios. I was so relieved when I got the call at 3pm to say Blackie was awake and ready. When we got there, the vet assistant put her immediately into the carrier before giving us her instructions. Apparently her teeth were worse than they thought and she had several more removed than expected. It sure hasn’t stopped her energy though. She literally dove through the air when she saw me, she was so excited.

She’s on three different medications now. She does not take medication well by syringe. She writhes and squirms and contorts herself until she’s wriggled free. But she’s a hungry kitty and is willing to eat all her medication laced food (before wandering around the plate and eating Angel’s normal food).

I am so glad she’s still here and absolutely grateful for the vet and the Farley Foundation. My vet bill would have been $1060. I don’t have that money at all. As it is, I might have to pay $60. I can manage that.

I am so looking forward to moving into my new apartment with Blackie leading the way for the other kitties; she truly is the queen of our household. I’m looking forward to her nose licks and her imperious walks to get more wet cat food. You’re only twelve Blackie, I don’t want to lose you this soon.

20191115_113721_hdr

Two steps away from reality…

I had a fairly busy morning yesterday. Colin and I hurried through a downpour, sans umbrellas, to catch our first bus. I spent that entire trip checking the bus app to see how long we had until the connecting bus and silently cursing whenever we stopped. By the time we got off our second bus the rain had stopped. We went to meet my Mom and walked to the restaurant for lunch… and it was closed even though their site said it was open. So onward to our favourite Indian restaurant where I had our worst food from there ever (and they’re usually amazing). I tried something new, which turned out to be tasteless, and our onion bhaji appeared to be onionless. From there we went to the grocery store, which was necessary but was one stop too many for me.

I went to pick up one last item then looked around in bewilderment. This is one of our regular grocery stores, we visit it about twice a month. I felt like I slipped though some sort of mirror. Everything was sort of recognizable but at the same time not. The only way I could describe it was by being two steps away from reality. I tightly gripped the shopping cart handle as if I’d fly away if I let go and slowly made my way to the front of the store, which was a zoo. Thankfully my Mom gave me her car keys so I could sit in quiet. There were police dogs by the exit, a promotion for their calendar, and I couldn’t even stop to pet them, that’s how badly I needed to leave. Thankfully I was okay soon after I got home. I looked it up and it’s called dissociation; just something else to tell my psychiatrist.

There’s been way too much happening. So far my occupancy date is set for January 1st but they have staggered move in dates. I can only hope I’m before January first and not after. Then there’s Colin and his move. He’s been having long meetings with one agency and has another meeting tomorrow that might be talking about a potential place. They’re even talking about a site in Toronto, which would make it hard for family to visit. But it’s urgent and any apartment is better than none. And, finally, there’s Blackie. She’s doing a lot better now with antibiotics and is absolutely ravenous, even with her sore, rotting teeth and mouth ulcers. We haven’t been able to see into her mouth so it was an unpleasant surprise to see her back teeth. I’m feeding her whenever she begs because she was starving and needs the calories. So far she’s had three dinners tonight. I need to drop some paperwork off at the vet clinic on Wednesday for a possible subsidy for her bloodwork and xrays. Then submit them again for dental surgery. But even there there’s a lot of uncertainty.  What if the bloodwork turns up something worse? I can’t picture my home without her.

And then there’s the whole move. I’ve bought beautiful things for my new place but it’s not going to be here. I’ll have a brief panic, like an elevator dropping a bit too fast for a few seconds and then the OMG moment hits. I’m not going to have my room there. Not with my teal and glitter walls. It’s going to be different. Everything’s going to be different. And I’m going to be alone in all that difference. Completely and utterly alone. Then I practice my breathing until I’m not going to pass out from hyperventilating and try to get on with my day.

And my world keeps spinning like a whirligig and I just keep hoping that my psychiatrist is right and this move will be a big help for me. Only 65 days to go.

 

Is this goodbye?

20191021_102325_hdrIt was 2007 and our cat Pumpkin had been put to sleep due to cancer two months earlier. The kids were begging for a new cat and, I must admit, there was a hole in our home that needed some extra purring and love.

I decided we’d adopt an older cat and told this to the lady at the shelter. Of course the kids had other ideas.

“Mom! Look at this one!,” Kait said and then she giggled. “She just licked my nose!”

“Those aren’t our older cats,” the lady informed me. “They’re… oh… you’re looking at one of our black cats!!! This one’s Blackie, she’s 11 months old. Would you like to hold her?”

Would we like to hold her? One of the silliest questions ever. I looked at the joy on Kait’s face and decided that was the one.

Blackie smoothly moved into our home, making friends with our oldest cat Angel, then befriending Oreo when he arrived. Colin and I moved with her to this apartment where she got adopted as Mommy Cat by Lara.

I can’t picture our home without her marching imperiously to the kitchen to be fed… her scurry to the front door to greet me… her happy nose licking… and her snuggling under the covers with me in the winter. Right now she’s sprawled in boneless bliss across the bottom of the bed, her sleep punctuated with slight snores. It doesn’t seem imaginable to picture her gone. My greeter of people and stander on keyboards.

I weighed her last week, first by weighing me holding her, then by weighing me alone, and finally subtracting the two numbers. She weighed 5lbs, which is worrisome. So I made sure she got the biggest portions of wet cat food, even at 2am. If Blackie’s hungry, she’s fed. Then I weighed her yesterday and was shocked to see her at 3lbs.

Blackie sees the vet this Wednesday, first thing in the morning. I’m hoping there’s a simple solution… but I don’t see one. And it feels so weird to mourn someone who’s still here and has no idea of the gravity of the situation.

I will update this post on Wednesday when I get more information.

Isn’t it ironic…

flat-blackieI was watching Blackie lie on my unmade bed today and marvelled at how flat she looked, as if she’d melded with the bed in some way. Then my mind wandered to an article I’d watched yesterday about a senior dog getting abandoned. I was on Facebook at the time, I scrolled once and there was another article about a 17 year old dog being abandoned because he was “too old”.

Pardon me but what the fuck?!?

I could write for a while about all the things pets do for us and it would all be true, but it’s not the important part. The important part is they’re our family and we don’t throw away family!

I know elderly pets aren’t always “convenient”. Blackie has accidents that have to be wiped up. She’s also lost a lot of weight so I’ve got her on wet food (another expense) and feed her when she’s hungry. Hello 3am.

Oreo’s getting senile. He’ll start howling on occasion, lost in his own apartment. Which means I have to go find him and carry him to my bed to sleep. He isn’t always sure when he’s done pooping and will leave the box too early. This means I’ll find a trail of poop from the box.. sometimes leading right to a peacefully sleeping Oreo, poop lying right beside his butt. He’s not exactly subtle. He’s also started wetting on the floor, I’m assuming because he’s temporarily forgotten where the litter box is.

Angel, the oldest, is doing the best. She has sore hips, which has me checking every cannabis store for CBD oil. So far I haven’t had any luck. So I make sure she has plenty of soft spaces… and she lies on Colin’s bed anyway. She’s Colin’s cat, she loves him dearly. He used to wear her draped around his shoulders like a scarf and she’d lie there, happy as can be.

Sure, there’s incontinence, anxiety, pain, and senility (and who the heck is throwing up) but there’s also joy and comfort. They don’t want to race around the apartment anymore. They’re not up on my bookcase knocking down the decorations (I see you Smudge) or crying because they’re stuck in the bathroom cabinet (I see you again Smudge). They are lap cats, content just to lie there and purr while occasionally licking your hand. They’re bed cats, content to snuggle against you for the whole night or, in Blackie’s case, snuggle under the covers. She likes the cave experience.

They are our family and, more importantly, we’re theirs. They expect, with the certainty of belonging, that they’ll be here forever. This is their home, their beds, their fuzzy carpets, their cat tree. No one say love was perfect or accident free. Love, in all it’s shapes, can be messy, glorious, painful, and poignant.

And it you’re dropping your senior pet off at a shelter, you have no idea what love is.

Growing old…

There was a faint growl behind me and I turned around to find Angel standing on her hind legs, front paws on the top mattress. She can’t jump that high anymore but wanted to sink into my memory foam topper and rest her 14 year old joints. Mornings are tough, I get that. I gently eased her onto the bed where she slowly lay down, hissing and growling the whole time, looking around as if she was trying to find who was attacking her, as if age could be seen. All I could do was drape a small blanket over her hips. She hissed for a second then stopped when it didn’t hurt. Several minutes later she relaxed and stretched out as the heat soothed her joints. I’ve looked into pain medication but cats don’t metabolise it properly so heat’s her only option.

Oreo, our 12 year old needs a lift onto the bed too and he occasionally starts wailing because he can’t see his people and he’s lost in the middle of the living room. Lost despite the fact we’ve lived here since 2012. I carry him into my room and place him onto the bed, where he snuggles down and immediately falls asleep.

And then there’s Blackie, our 13 year old. She’s lost so much weight again this winter but hasn’t gained it back, despite me feeding her wet cat food twice a day… alone in the washroom so no one can steal it from her. She’s cheerful as heck though, racing to the front door so she can sneak into the hallway and climbing all over my computer desk (usually when I’m writing). I pet her and feel every bone in her spine plus her hip bones and she purrs loudly because she’s getting petted.

I hate watching them grow old. The pain, the senility, the knobby bones, the occasional bout of incontinence (thanks Oreo). I know no one lives forever but they’re so small and innocent that aging just feels unfair.

I don’t know how long I’ll have with them but I’ll cherish every minute and know that whatever amount of time we have will be too short.

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