After 18 years and a good life, our cat died on Sunday, July 23. I’m not a cat person. I don’t dislike cats… but given the choice between a cat and a dog, well… the dog will win every time. I suppose part of this favoritism stems from my being allergic to cat fur. I didn’t know I was allergic to cats for the longest time because I just never came into contact with cats while I was growing up – but when I moved to
This part of the
As part of my early testing, I went to an allergist to find out exactly what my asthma triggers were. I found out – much to my surprise – that I was highly allergic to cats. I was also allergic to tree pollen and a number of grasses. In
Then came a new fly in the ointment… I developed severe and chronic sinusitis. I lost my ability to smell and had to have sinus surgery to allow them to drain properly. Even now, 5 years after the surgery, I still suffer with sinus problems.
Momma Cat: In addition to
Momma Cat ruled the yard. She had a cat door that led from the garage to our breezeway and she could come and go as she pleased, but once Sydney came to live with us, he would chase her whenever he saw her, so we closed the cat door and left the garage open about 9” and that allowed Momma Cat to get out without having to run for her life!
Momma Cat was very much a solitary being. She liked to be stroked gently and brushed on occasion, but she didn’t like it too much if you picked her up. Oh, she’d tolerate it for a short while but then she’d squirm loose and make a break for it. Even on the coldest days in winter, when Sheila would pick her up and bring her into the house, she'd want to go back out almost immediately. So that she wouldn’t freeze to death in the middle of the night, we got a heated pad and put it in her cat bed. I made the cat bed out of ¾” plywood surrounded by 1” thick styrofoam. The bottom of her bed was lined with towels. Even on the coldest days, the bed maintained an almost constant 70° temperature. Momma Cat liked that very much.
Momma Cat was a very good tree climber. If one of the neighborhood dogs came close to the house, she’d run up the tree faster than you could say Jiminy Cricket. She was like a brown/black blur speeding across the lawn. She was also a fierce hunter. We’d come home from work and, as often as not, would find a chipmunk head or bird wing lying in the breezeway… and Momma Cat sitting close by looking quite smug and pleased with herself.
It was just as well that Momma Cat spent almost all of her time outside, because whenever Sheila brought her into the house, I’d have a severe allergic reaction that would last for a few hours. Still, whenever I came home from work, Momma Cat would run up to the car to greet me and I’d pet her head and scratch her under her chin. She liked that… but I’d have to wash my hands almost immediately. In the morning, at 7:00 every day, she’d be on the front stoop waiting for her breakfast. Over the years, we tried different types of cat food but she eventually settled on “9 Lives”. She really liked the sliced beef in gravy and would eat it almost to the exclusion of everything else.
Several years ago, there were a couple of weeks when she wouldn’t eat and would hardly drink anything and we thought we’d lose her. She was 15 years old at that time, and we thought her kidneys were shutting down and that the end would soon be near. We took her to the vet who said that we should be prepared for her to die… but she bounced right back and kept going! True, she wasn’t as fierce a hunter after that incident, and we never did find out what the problem was, but we were happy to still have her with us.
Then, on Sunday last week, Sheila heard her banging around outside and went to find out what was going on. Momma Cat was trying to climb back onto the bench that she often slept on in the summer, but her back legs wouldn’t move. We rushed her to the Animal ER not far from where we live, and the vet said that a blood clot was the most likely scenario, and was cutting off circulation to her hips and legs. She said that that she could operate to remove the clot but, even with surgery, Momma Cat’s recovery would be long… and there was no guarantee that she’d regain full use (if any) of her hind quarters. While Sheila and I were not prepared for this news, we knew that if Momma Cat couldn’t remain independent, she would be constantly afraid of everything that happened in her world. So we made the difficult decision, and told the vet that it was time to put her down. With great compassion, the vet acknowledged our wishes.
So, after 18 good years, we lost the only cat that I had really ever known. I didn’t think it would affect me too much – after all, I’m not really a cat person – but it is strange not to see her waiting at the front door for breakfast, and it’s strange not to have her running out to the car to greet me when I come home from work.