We’ve had it rough over the past several months. My mother in law passed away in October, and then my own mother died two days after Christmas. I’ve been so preoccupied with coping that I failed to notice another member of our family starting to decline . . . our poor little old kitty, Daisy.
One day I was doing laundry, and I heard what I thought was someone rocking back and forth on a creaky floorboard above me. When I realized the sound was coming from the cat, all curled up asleep in her beanbag chair, I figured she was snoring and went to nudge her. She woke up, but the sound didn’t stop because she wasn’t snoring, she was wheezing. Then I took a closer look at her and noticed that she wasn’t very well groomed, which was unusual for her — her brother Wily is a bit of a slob, but Daisy had always been meticulous.
After this, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t give her much thought over the next couple of days. I was completely absorbed in the benefit we were planning and wasn’t home much. Plus, our cats live primarily in the laundry room and I don’t see them out and about very often. They are 16 and slowing down significantly.
Then the day after the benefit, my son mentioned that he had cleaned up several little piles of cat vomit that morning. It happens, I told him. We’ll keep an eye on them. The next day, he found Daisy lying in a puddle of puke, and I knew something was truly wrong. Cats don’t like to be that messy. So I called the vet and made an appointment to bring her in.
When I picked my Daisy up to put her in the cat carrier and she didn’t fight me, I knew we were in trouble. This one haaaated to leave the house, and I have the old battle scars to prove it. Plus, she was super skinny, a bag of bones, not very encouraging.
The doctor took an x-ray and found a whole world of trouble on the inside. In addition to some seriously arthritic elbows and vertebrae, she had a large mass in her chest behind her narrowed trachea/esophagus that explained her inability to keep down any food. Typically an 11 pounder, she was now less that 6 lbs and essentially starving to death. At her advanced age, surgery really wasn’t an option, and the vet recommended that we do the humane thing and put her down.
Having just lost two amazing women involuntarily, it was a little difficult to wrap my mind around volunteering to lose another family member. But what else could we do? Daisy was in a lot of pain, and starving to death was no way to go.
So I picked the kids up from school and brought them back to the vet. The doctor was amazing with them. She showed them the x-ray and explained everything, how Daisy was in pain, how she couldn’t be fixed, how the best thing for her would be for us to let her go.
Then we spent some time with her, petting and scratching, consoling and crying, saying goodbye. When they were ready, I took the kids out to the waiting room and went back in to hold my first baby one last time. She went very peacefully, never stopped looking into my eyes, and just simply stopped breathing.
Stray kittens who were camping out in the basement of an apartment building my dad owned, Daisy and Wily were only a few weeks old when he trapped them and brought them home to me. Wily was a little lover, desperate and needy, my instant best friend, wanting to sleep on my neck and always purring like an outboard motor. Daisy was skittish and wary, unapproachable and terrified, hissing at any sudden movement, and hiding from me for days at a time.
She came to love me, my little silent companion. She came to love Tom, quiet just like her. She begrudgingly accepted baby Charlie after a rocky start that involved a couple of spraying incidents (I didn’t even know females could DO that!). She never had much regard for the other kids or anyone else who entered our home. In fact, most people thought we only had one cat because she never came out unless the coast was clear.
But she’s been a constant presence for me. And a constant companion for her brother, the Yin to his Yang. I will always picture them curled up together in their beanbag chair, soft and sweet. During the last week of her life, I noticed that Daisy had grown so much smaller than Wily that he almost enveloped her, curled tightly around her frail little body. I think he knew something wasn’t right, and he wanted to protect her.
I’m so sorry she was hurting and it took so long for me to notice. I’m so sorry my Wily doesn’t have his sister anymore, having never been apart from her for more than 24 hours since the day they were born. I’m so sorry my children have had to face so much death so recently. My heart feels like it will never stop breaking.