We’ve had several months of cat drama here at home, during which I’ve discovered that the world falls into two categories: those who believe their pets are vital, well-loved members of the family (thankfully, my friends and co-workers) and those who think “it’s only a cat” (don’t get me started).
Our oldest cat, Elmo, born and named by his previous owner at the height of the “Tickle Me Elmo” toy craze, got thinner, grouchier and hungrier last summer and with much consternation (he HATED vets, cat carriers and car trips with only a bit less passion than he hated his former house-call vet) we took him to a new vet around the corner and discovered that our poor little dude had hyperthyroidism, arthritis and bladder cancer. There really wasn’t much to be done other than to make him as comfortable as we could – with a twice daily treatment for his hyperthyroidism and pain meds for his arthritis and cancer. Our wonderful, sensitive and intrepid vets took their time with him, ignored his loud protests and helped us help him live out his remaining weeks with as much comfort as we could muster.
Not much of a cuddler in his healthy days, and very much in love with Jeff rather than me, he quickly saw the benefits of my lap as the weather grew colder – warmth, comfort and lots of gentle cuddles between meals and meds became our new routine. I’d race home after work each day to make the most of the time we had left, watching Ugly Betty re-runs on cable with my skinny, arthritic little dude.
Our kitchen began to resemble an animal hospital and Jeff became a dab hand at giving injections. I had the equally important role of holding him still and speaking to him quietly. Ultimately, we could see that his good days were behind him and it was time to say goodbye while he still had a bit of dignity. If you’ve been through it, you know. If you haven’t, it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do. But it would have been even harder to keep him around a moment longer than we did, knowing that he was in such pain.
And so, after moments of sadness or thinking we saw him out of the corner of our eye, we were able to slowly move on and stop wincing at only one cat instead of two greeting us at the door. Jasmine, our resident sweetheart, only a year younger than Elmo and with us for almost as long, was a trooper throughout Elmo’s illness. She and Elmo had never been friends and he’d always been a bit of a jerk to her. We gave her as much affection as we could while caring for our boy, and it seemed like she understood what was going on. Until the evening that he didn’t come home.
The one thing we didn’t count on was how much grief her gentle little soul was carrying around for her old friend until she stopped eating and rapidly lost weight. Our vets were dismayed to see us back in their office within weeks of Elmo’s passing. And now, two months later, after countless hand feedings by syringe and lots of patience, our girl is slowly coming back to life, hiding less and purring more.
Enter Leela. We first heard about Leela when Elmo was still alive, a rescue kitten being raised at the vet’s office while they looked for her forever home. She was brought in to their office by a client who had found this little scrap of a kitten with a seriously damaged eye. In spite of my grief over Elmo’s rapidly degenerating health, I was intrigued. And once Jasmine showed some slow signs of recovery, we thought a new little friend might be just what the doctor ordered. She is a sweet, friendly little thing and although Jasmine is still quite reserved and not used to a housemate quite so young, friendly and bouncy, we have every hope that the two of them will be excellent company for each other.
She is also excellent company for us and shows promise at turning into my new “kitchen cat”. Elmo used to keep me company as I cooked (especially if any form of dairy or bacon was involved) and it’s nice to have a little face staring up at me again as I stand at the stove.