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  • Heidi Broecking

The Pretty. Seriously.


Seriously. Because first the knee situation and second the bike crash, now third? My cat is dying? Seriously. We came home from two weeks away and she was alarmingly thin. It turned out she had a mass in her abdomen. Based on the severe anemia she is exhibiting, the mass was most likely in her spleen. Abdominal masses in felines are almost always terminal. We could have done a splenectomy but the consensus was that it had most likely spread. In addition, she may not have survived a surgery because of the anemia. It could be treated with chemo with maybe a 3-6 month life extension rate. No thanks. If someone diagnosed me with a cancer that gave me an additional 3 months after devastating my body with surgery and/or chemo, I would decline. So we declined for my "Pretty".

My son was with us but he was unprepared to euthanize her at the appointment two days ago. He had honestly thought they would find something treatable. At his request and as a family, we decided to wait 36 hours with subcutaneous hydration. With the water injection, she behaved more normally for fourish hours and then went back to the "video game cave" where it's cool. We put her to rest earlier today.

But before we did, Devon asked if we could bring Smokey outside. Our cats were inside cats who desperately wanted to go outside. (Aside: She was also a leaf eater. Bouquets had to be snuck in and/or placed on high surfaces because she was also a singularly vertically challenged feline). So we did. We wrapped her in a blanket before leaving. He held her closely as he walked her around yard, letting her sniff the air. He brought her to the fountain and let her smell the water and the grasses. He introduced her to Jizo and brought her paw close to touch the statue. He brought her to the bamboo grove. She craned her neck to smell the leaves...and then, to our delight, promptly began to chew on as many leaves as she could fit in her mouth. Brilliant! A leaf eater until the end. I cannot express how happy I am that my son had these precious moments with his "smokey-with-the-white-boots" kitty. He is a compassionate and loving young man.

The creatures we choose to bring into our homes become part of our lives. Smokey and her sister came to us by way of adoption. They were born feral, then shifted to three households (two abusive) before landing at the Cat Care Clinic in Nyack and then finally, with our family. They were sick and fearful. Our son was in kindergarten and obsessed with the DK Eyewitness series. Specifically the books about castles, knights, medieval times and medieval weapons. After a week, we stopped calling them "Kitty 1" and "Kitty 2" and asked him to name the girls. He chose 'Smoke' and 'Castle'. Unconventional but consistent with his new-found knowledge base. Smoke was mostly grey and Castle was grey and white, like different colored stone. Okay, we get it. We all decided their nicknames would be Smokey and Cassie. And there is was. Against the vet's advice we let them out of the "acclimation" bedroom on day 7 and gave them the run of the house. It would be a trial at times. They were both deathly afraid of men and would screw themselves into places like armoires, cabinets and basement ceilings to hide...disappearing for hours, sometimes days. Each time they found a new place, we'd find it and close it up.

After about six weeks, one miraculous morning, we went downstairs for coffee and there were two cats. One sleeping on the stuffed chair, the other sitting on the kitchen floor, waiting for breakfast. Meowing. Loudly and repeatedly. They didn't run away when we came downstairs. Then, everything changed. A week later, sleeping on the beds. A few months later, maybe a tentative paw on the thigh looking for a pat. Then venturing onto a lap. Then staying half-way on a lap. It was baby steps for two years. And then, all of the sudden, we had two of the most affectionate, delightful, loving, and totally hilarious creatures sharing our house with us.

My husband had never had litter mates before. These two played, fought, cleaned and cared for each other. Siblings. Seeing them curl up together for warmth, or lay on the radiator together, or sit next to each other waiting for a meal looking up at us, they were sisters. You could see it in their facial shape and eyes.

Today, Cassie will be the 'Queen of the Castle' as it were. She understands Smokey is no longer here and she knew her sister was sick. Not just sick, but not-make-it sick. They have indeed been separating over the last few days. They are animals, they get it.

As hard as it is to say goodbye to a loved creature, part of the family, we are privileged to be able to help her end her life with dignity and without unnecessary pain. Goodbye my Pretty, my Smokey Cat. With great love and gratitude. Meow indeed.

#cat #kitty #love #family #kittylove #pretty #compassion #gratitude

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