I can home on Friday, stepped out of my Ugg boots and immediately put a bare foot into a small puddle. Of cat pee. This confirmed a suspicion we had harbored for awhile–our kitty, Dinah, was sick. We found a mysterious stain on the couch she seemed to have left in her sleep. Another on our sheets. Ew. I found a second puddle right outside the bathroom door; she had almost made it to her litter box. I put this together with the weight loss we had both just noticed and immediately called Nathan. She had been eating more and more food, but losing weight. The vet had been telling me that her teeth were hurting her too much for dry food. A quick look showed me that they were even worse. The list gets longer, but I’ll spare you.
This was one of our family’s hardest weeks ever, for completely different reasons, and it ended with our decision to have Dinah put to sleep. I have lost track of how much time I’ve spent crying in the past seven days. It’s too ridiculous. I said good-bye to my beautiful cat this morning and actually thanked her. I feel like she was a big factor in getting me through some really hard years.
I adopted her in early 2008, when I moved into an apartment of my own for the first time. My little studio was just big enough for me and Dinah, who came to me at an elderly ten-ish years old from her original mama, a college friend. She had such a personality, my kitty. She would play chase with a pair of squirrels who came to our window at about the same time every day, taunting her with the window screen. She turned out to have nearly perfect taste in men–she completely adored Nathan from Day One. That may have had something to do with the fact that went I went on a short trip, Nathan came over and fed Dinah, cleaned her litter box and stayed to play with her so that she wouldn’t get lonely. Mostly, though, she kept me from being lonely. It was so nice to come home to her.
She used to talk. A lot. Loudly. So much, that we came home one day to find some neighbor kids meowing back at her through the front door! She even caught us walking home one night and meowed at us from the open window. She used jump up onto the back of the couch, come up behind our guests and sniff their hair. It was truly odd. But not as odd as when she would start to lick their hair! She seemed particularly fond of my cousin, Tess. She loved people, and came to meet and cuddle with everyone who came to visit. In fact, she insisted on cuddling with my friend Julia while Julia slept over, completely oblivious to Julia’s terror of cats or my attempts to bring her off the guest’s mattress and make her stay with me on the big bed.
She believed with great conviction that she owned a certain spot in the middle of the bed. Once she had settled in, she had to be picked up and put in a different spot and a human had to jump in quickly, or she’d take it back. Once, while playing with my feet under the covers, she somehow forgot they were my feet, got spooked, did a back flip off of the bed, landed on the floor, jumped backwards and into the wall before running from the room. It took us a week to get her back into the bedroom and at least two weeks before we could convince her that there was no monster hiding in the bed!
When we adopted our dog, Lewis, we thought that she might adjust better because he was such a young puppy; she didn’t learn to love him, but he certainly adjusted to her. And found her to be the single most exciting creature on the planet. And the most terrifying. Every time she got up and moved to a different part of the house, he would go over to sniff the spot she had just occupied. We still think that she liked him and just refused to admit it.
For the last few months, she has been sleeping more, eating more, complaining more and behaving less and less like the kitten-like Dinah I first knew. Nathan took her to the vet this morning and came back with just her collar and her tag. Both were handmade. We’re giving her leftover food and treats to a shelter. And the collar. I’m keeping the tag. Maybe I’ll put it in a little picture frame with a picture. For now, it’s hidden.
To be perfectly honest, while the timing was in the obvious sense really terrible (could this week get any harder?), in a larger sense it worked out for the best. It wasn’t going to be safe to be pregnant around a cat who had stopped using her litter box. I have no idea how she would have adjusted to a baby, but the puddles on the floor were going to be a huge problem. I had been agonizing over this periodically for awhile–what would we do? We couldn’t give her away, even temporarily; how do you ask a friend to care for a pet who isn’t house trained? We couldn’t give her to a shelter. She was our princess.
I hope that her fifteen years were happy ones. I’m grateful to have had her in my life. I sort of can’t believe that I just wrote 1,000 words about my cat, but she was part of the family. And she was a beautiful little soul.