Category

The Cat

Resting On

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Our Karma

Yesterday we lost our cat, Karma.

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I shouldn’t say lost, I know where she is. I was there when she left. I saw the vet stroke her head as he injected the pink medication that stopped her heart. I kissed her head as she took her last breath. It was the right decision for her. She was suffering and now she is not, but still my heart aches for her.

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Karma was the first animal that was really mine. I had just graduated from college and was living on my own for the first time. My boyfriend (now husband) had just moved to New Orleans and then evacuated for a hurricane and was home when I decided it was time. I needed a companion to make my tiny one bedroom apartment feel less empty.

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I had my heart set on an orange cat, so when my boyfriend called me over and said, “she’s not orange, but…” I had low expectations. But there in that cage was the tiniest kitten I had ever seen. She had the pointiest tale and the sweetest eyes. And that was my cat. My girl. My Karma. She was 1.25 pounds of sass.

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She moved with me to New Orleans. She traveled to Nashville with us when we evacuated for a hurricane. She came back to California with us. She sat on my lap in the wee hours of the morning while I was up feeding both my babies. This past week, while Will was recovering from pneumonia, despite being sick herself, she slept on the couch with Will and me every night, quietly purring and watching us.

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She was not a nice cat. I don’t want to sugarcoat this or remember her as anything other than what she was because that’s not fair. She was picky and grouchy and would bite the ever living crap out of you if she didn’t like what was happening. She even had resting bitch face on her last day. She liked to be pet (petted? I don’t really care) on her own terms, in very specific locations, for very short durations. She preferred to be held the weirdest fashion, pannus splayed out for all to see. She was enormous with the tiniest head and paws, and no diet would ever seem to help. She was unapologetically lazy. Also my spirit animal.

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She adored my husband. She was supposed to be my cat, but he was her person. He could do no wrong for Karma. On the night before we put her down, we snuggled her for hours before we went to bed. Whenever my husband dared to stop petting her, she would immediately cease purring (even if I was still petting her) and turn her head toward him, as if to say, uh, no. You are not finished. He held her all the way to the vet yesterday and in the waiting room while we waited to be seen.

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When she became sick last week, Eli took a major interest in Karma. It was pretty much the first time she was ever present and stationary enough for him to touch her. Today he asked where she was and it was one of the toughest parenting moments I’ve had to date. I know he doesn’t understand, but we tried to keep it simple, not correlate sickness or old age with death, and remind him that we loved her very much.

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Because we did. She was grouchy and could bite harder than any creature on earth, but she was my cat. It probably seems silly to essentially eulogize my cat, but the heartache I’m feeling right now is tremendous. She had a good life. She was loved. It may not mean much now, but I really hope it meant the world to her.

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The One Where We Got Played By Our Cats

So last week I started to notice that my husband’s cat, Karma, wasn’t eating her normal amounts of food. Our cats get fed 3 times a day, moist food only. Our vet is the one who suggested this diet and it’s because when given dry cat food Karma gains weight like it’s her job.

Before we switched to the (gross) wet stuff, she weighed 16 pounds. She’s now a svelte 14 pounds. Never mind that my cat eats the exact same amount of food and weighs a little under 12 pounds. Apparently exercise does impact your weight.

Anyways, not eating is not like her, especially the magnitude of the food strike.

And then we noticed how much water she was drinking. Because the cats get moist food, they’re not big water drinkers, but suddenly the water cup was half empty every day. To say we were alarmed would be an understatement. I think we had all but diagnosed her with kitty diabetes.

And then she started being loving and totally stopped biting me and I was convinced that she must be dying because there’s no other explanation for that.

We started closely watching how much she ate, and trying to see if she preferred a certain color can of cat food since there are 3 different kinds in the box or if different times of day were better. But mostly, she was just really not eating much at all. Sometimes she would only lap up the liquid and leave the rest. My cat thought that this was the best week of his life because he got endless double meals, but we were scared.

Because we’re going out of town for a week this weekend, we decided that if things didn’t turn around by Tuesday, we’d go see the vet.

Now, throughout the weekend, we heard some cabinets opening/closing. I didn’t think much of it because cabinet opening is a new skill for my cat and now he’s decided he needs to get into every cabinet no matter what. I mean, I found him snuggling with our extra toilet paper in the hall cabinet last week. So the noises were not out of the ordinary.

Until I heard a cabinet close just as I went to go feed the cats. And when I opened the cat food cabinet what did I find in this cabinet? I found Jacques-Imo, eating from an almost empty (but previously HALF FULL) bag of dry cat food under the sink. And I found Karma, finishing chewing a mouthful of the dry stuff herself.

You guys, these cats totally freaking played me. My husband’s cat was not on a food strike at all, she was eating ALL DAY LONG. She was having a dry cat food buffet and was then too full to eat her normal food. They always drink more water when they’re on the dry stuff. All the pieces clicked together. And since this discovery we’ve found her in the cupboard looking for her snacks about 100 times. She even figured out where I moved the cat food to and is now trying to squeeze her largeness into that small cabinet to get some more.

Thankfully we didn’t take her to the vet or lose any extra sleep over this since she is clearly going to be just fine. You’ll all be pleased to know that since we caught on to her tricks and removed her dry food buffet she has resumed eating normal meals and being as mean as ever. It’s nice to have our Karma back, bitch face and all.

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How I Know I'm Going to be a Great Mother

Because when I see a small creature doing something that is potentially really dangerous, my very first thought is, can I get a picture of that before he stops? And yes, he is on top of the refrigerator, because of course he is.

Also, because I love that small creature so much it’s almost embarrassing. Almost.

The Thief in our Midst

I don’t think I’ve ever made a great secret of how much I love my cat. It’s a lot, almost a ridiculous amount. I literally cannot tell you how much I love him, but even I know that he is dumb as rocks.

He loves nothing more in the whole wide world than food. He’s not picky. He likes cold food, hot food, good food, old food. Given the chance to eat Green Eggs and Ham, he’d eat them absolutely any-freaking-where. He is pretty much Dr. Seuss’s dream.

Most animals can handle eating one or two times a day, but not the Shmo. Eating twice a day results in a cat who is up in your grill all the time and not in a loving way. In a pouncing on your abdomen from great heights way. In a chasing and tormenting the other cat so you have to pay attention to him kind of way. Basically he’s like a 2 year old. You will pay attention to him, dammit.

Tonight we had Chinese food because I just didn’t feel like cooking. Twice while I was eating, he stuck his quick white little paw directly in my bowl to steal a piece of chicken. KATIE DOESN’T SHARE. Especially when he just ate like 10 minutes before, no way was he hungry already. I must have tossed him off the couch (yea, that’s where we were eating dinner, don’t judge me) 20 times in the 10 minutes we were eating. He was told many times that he needed to check himself before he wrecked himself. No such checkage occurred.

After we finished, my husband put the chicken bones from his Chinese food in a bowl, a bowl that the cat promptly stuck his face in and stole bits out of. The first two times, we got the bones from him. The third, he got something and ATE it before we could. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t an actual chicken bone as much as a hard part that wasn’t boney, but either way, now we’re watching him and I’ll probably call the vet tomorrow just to be safe.

And if that wasn’t enough, while I was disposing of the chicken wings that he continued to try to get into after we removed him from the scene like 20 times, I realized that he was into something else. By the time I got there, he had eaten through a ziploc bag and had taken a couple nice bites out of a donut. Because what else do you eat after a chicken bone/hard part than a baggy and a donut?

Why does my cat eat like he’s high? If he had chips, he’d totally be eating those too right now.

I just do not know what to do with this cat. I guess it’s a really good thing he’s cute, because I think he’s taken a few years off my life.

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