In early June, my husband suggested that maybe we were ready for another cat. We had put our older cat, Karma, down about a year earlier and the heartbreak of losing her was significant enough that I wasn’t ready to open my heart up again right away. But after a year of being a 1 cat household, we were all ready.
So we went to the same shelter we got our remaining cat (Jacques-Imo, named for my favorite restaurant in New Orleans) and went searching for a kitten. There were what seemed like hundreds of adorable cats, the boys were in heaven and while Eli had some opinions, I knew which one I wanted from the moment I laid eyes on her. She was the fluffiest brown tabby and she was my cat. Jacques-Imo is FIRMLY my husband’s cat, so this one was mine.
We got her home, decided on a name (FeatherFluffy, you’ll never guess who named her) and within a few days noticed that the site of her spay incision looked…wrong. We took her to the vet, who gave her a tiny cone and some terrible topical treatment and sent us home. Several days later, we went to get into bed and realized we hadn’t seen her for a while and when we tracked her down, it was obvious that she was sick. A trip to the emergency vet turned into a 2 day stay where she was found to have three different viruses, all from the shelter. She came home slightly better, and with time, got healthier, but was not healthy until the next time she got more serious sick in November, when antibiotics finally put one of the viruses into a full remission. And from November to early February, she was healthy.
Throughout all of this, she was literally the sweetest cat. I mean, I’ve had a lot of cats. I’ve had very nice ones, I’ve had ones that you’re afraid to be around. She was the sweetest. She never bit anyone. She let the boys invade her space and aggressively pet her (we stopped them as soon as possible, but we can only be so many places at once) without every retaliating or showing aggression. Her favorite place to sleep was in our bed under the covers, tucked right between us. If you dared sit down on the toilet for any period of time, she was on your shoulder. Every night she fell asleep on our laps on the couch. She had the sweetest disposition and we adored her deeply. She fit our family so perfectly.
Elijah was especially taken by her. He loved nothing more than when she would sit in his lap and let him pet her. He would often just sit by her with his sweet arm draped over her. As much as she was my cat, she was his too, and he knew it and loved it.
Early last month, out of the blue, she stopped walking. One of her pupils did not respond to light and she had an ear infection. For the third time in 8 months, we rushed her to the emergency vet who prescribed some medication and she got a little better, but she was clearly not herself. Then this week, she stopped being able to eat or drink without great effort and we knew. The vet agreed. We had done everything we could to give her the life she deserved. We loved her fiercely, we cared for her to the best of our potential and we recognized that we were letting her suffer because we didn’t want to let go and we didn’t want to break our kid’s heart. And while those felt like legitimate reasons in our hearts, we knew deep down that we were being selfish.
And so last night, 1 day shy of 9 months from when we brought her home for the first time, we said a final goodbye to FeatherFluffy, our not even 1 year old kitten, and sent her away from the suffering that filled her short life. We said goodbye to the sweetest kitten, to Elijah’s favorite member of this family. I have cried so many tears, I’m amazed that I still have any left to pour down my cheeks as I write this.
Telling Elijah this morning was the hardest parenting moment of our 4.5 years at this gig. He cried softly for what felt like a lifetime and has asked several times why she can’t come home. I just keep telling him that we wish she could, because it’s true, because I have no real answer for him. This feels unfair in the deepest way. We tried to find some books we could read him about pets dying and they’re all about how the pets lived a long happy life and no, she didn’t. She lived a terribly brief life, punctuated by illness. The unfairness of that haunts me. I expected this cat to see Elijah off to college, she didn’t even live to see kindergarten. I would give almost anything to have had her life take a different course.
But here we are again. 1 cat (who we love) and deep wounds from where the last one had already settled into our hearts.