Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Proverb: A much loved child (or cat) has many names.

We called her Jennyanydots.

And "Jenny".

And "Tidbit".

"Princess Pretty Whiskers".

"Our Girl"

"Fatty"

"Wideload"

"Sweetheart"

and "Sweet Sweet".

She was only five years old yesterday when we lost her.

It had started out to be such a beautiful day.

Jenny had some scratches on her oh so white tummy. She was licking them and had made the area rather bare, and rashy, so I had made an appointment for her at the veterinarian.

It meant getting up earlier than usual. She firmly resisted getting into her carrier, as all right minded cats will, and dove under the bed.

Next we put the carrier in the bathroom, a small space so she couldn't escape us, and gathered her up, apologizing the whole time, and explaining that she really did need to have her tummy looked at, and slipped her into the carrier.

She protested pitifully as I drove. Once we arrived, she was perfectly lady like, and sat quietly as the vet examined her. She had gained two pounds, not a good thing. The scratches were addressed with a cortisone injection. I mentioned that she was grunting slightly as she walked sometimes, but not always though.

The doctor suggested that overweight cats sometimes did that, and that perhaps we could help her exercise more by using a lazer pointer light for her to chase.

Tidbit never saw the point of a lazer pointer light. She was willing to move for a bit for catnip though.

She protested less on the ride home. After exchanging a sniff over with Tiggie and Hart, she settled in for a nap.

I got busy decorating the house for fall. It was the first time it had felt like fall, crisp, cool, "windows open" weather. Tidbit wandered through the efforts, and I remembered how she always looked like autumn to me, especially with the sun on her fur and the sunlight making her ears glow. She had such bat ears as a kitten. Now they seemed rather small for her body.

The purple martins arrived, and the pileated woodpecker. I talked with my mom, and got caught up.

Then I trimmed up some of the garden landscape. The cats all came out for a couple of minutes, and seemed to enjoy the weather as well. I almost took a picture.

It didn't seem like much work, but I was just tired enough that I decided to take a quick snooze before heading out to work. Tidbit was on the bed, and I petted her and listened to her purr for a few minutes, maybe 10 minutes or so.

I left the houses at 4:40, and I arrived a bit late at work. It was a busy night, and my co-librarian taught two classes, so I didn't even take a break. Or check my email until almost nine. When I looked, there were two emails from Bernie, asking me to call him immediately. Tidbit was at the hospital.

When I called him on my cell phone, he was already in the school parking lot. He said we would talk when I got off work. I suspected Tidbit had died, or he would have told me what was happening.

At 9:30 I finished work, and joined him in the parking lot. He said that around seven thirty he had heard an odd meow, and went to investigate. Tidbit was on our bedroom floor, beneath the window, one of her favorite places to nap. She was breathing hard, and was limp and very hot. Hart and Tiggie were nearby watching her.

Bernie tried to reach our vet, but they had just left the day. A recorded message said to call a 24 hour vet office off of 1960, a roadway about 30 minutes from our home. He called, and they said to bring her right in.

This time she didn't protest at all as he eased her once again into her carrier.

She died on the way.

The vet said that cats that die suddenly almost always die of heart failure. They see a lot of cases like ours, being a 24 hour veterinary office. People late at night bringing in their cat, who one moment was chasing a string, or walking across a room, or jumping down from a lap, and then the next moment, suddenly, inexplicably, was dead.

It could be heart worms, or just a heart defect, or in most case, nine out of ten, unknown causes. Her being overweight could have contributed to it, but maybe not. The cortisone injection probably had nothing to do with it. The stress of being taken to the vet that morning might have added to the stress on the heart, but maybe not.

Bernie stayed with Tidbit for a long time. He said he stroked each of her patches, the orange one that looked like a heart, the black one that looked like a bat, the orange and white stripes, and the grey and black stripes, and her long beautiful whiskers. He said he cried over her, and told her again how much we loved her, and that she should go to heaven and find Mac, her protector cat, that loved her as a kitten, he who died, slowly of cancer four years ago. We still miss Mac.

Bernie then drove to meet me. We went back to the vets and picked out an urn, and I had to decide if I wanted to stroke her one more time or just keep the memory of our last cuddle on the bed. It was hard, but I decided to just keep the memory. It was hard to drive away, I wanted to take her with us, and bury her in our garden where it was changing to her colors, and into the season she loved best.

But Texas soil is clay, and saturated now, impossible to dig in more than a few inches. So we had to leave her behind. We'll get her ashes in a few weeks.

What will I remember about Tidbit:

How she looked at me the very first time.
How she purred then.
And how she seemed to smile when I came back, like I promised I would, to pick her up two days later when the animal shelter said I could have her.
How she was so tiny. And how when the very big and gentle Mac came up to give her a welcome, she unleashed a salty kitty hiss that made Mac's eyes grow wide in amazement.

How she played. And how her nose had three bands of color, peach, and grey and black.
The black smudge by her noise, like a beauty mark that appeared in her teenage months.

How she would bunny hop in the morning to greet me.

And how slept with me, the only cat to ever let me hold her like a baby as I slept.

She was like a Beatrix Potter cat, all white lace ruff, and shiny black guard fur, and sweet simple ways. Her calico ways, short tail, stripes and spots and gentle manners. She never seemed to be in a hurry, or plotting capers like other cats.

She just enjoyed the sun, and being with me.

She was the cat I had wanted my whole life. She was the cat I hoped would live to be twenty or more. I never dreamed we would lose her so soon. Too soon.

She was a cat who had a perfect life.

Except that it was much too short.

4 comments:

Kate said...

So sorry you lost your Tidbit! Hopefully she will live on in your memories of her short life.

Anonymous said...

Some of the best friends in the world come with fur and whiskers. Sorry for your loss.

Ladygrande said...

Jill,

I am so sorry.

Marie

Brenda said...

This made me cry. A couple weeks ago we had to put a cat down. He was only 2 yrs old but had feline HIV. Then last week, my oldest daughters dog got hit by a car and died in her arms.

Hope you're feeling better soon.