A Tale of Some Kitties

In my world, cats are the most magical of beings. I firmly believe they are enchantresses and completely capable of weaving spells. I also believe that I am part cat, and I identify with the cat in many ways. I have learned this through living with them, in particular, living with a very close family of cats.

For all of my adult life I was partially defined by these cats. They were my children and my world, my witch cats and familiars. If they could talk, the stories about me they could tell.  I really lived my life for those cats, and we were all connected.

And just a few weeks ago I had to put the last of the line down.

My cat odyssey began when I was eighteen, and had just moved to Seattle to go to art school. I was really lonely and one day I came across someone giving away kittens out of a box, and she only had one left. My mom had warned me not to get any pets, but my heart just broke for this kitten, and I took her home.

She was a black and white tuxedo and I named her Melanie. We fell in love instantly.

Seattle didn’t go so well, and I moved back to my hometown pretty fast. After returning Melanie had some sort of accident. I’m not sure what happened. She was gone a few days and then reappeared unable to walk. Turned out her pelvis was fractured, but she would make a full recovery. Meanwhile, she went into heat.

Let me point out that I am a huge proponent for spaying and neutering your pets. I think that is a critical part of pet ownership. With any recent pet addition they have been spayed or neutered as soon as I could get it done. But in the next part of my story I was young, and working some things out, and long story short I didn’t follow through on my spay and neuter responsibilities.

Anyhow, Melanie goes into heat but the vet says, don’t worry, with her mending pelvis she’s not going to let any male get near her. I also did everything I could to keep her inside, but I lived with multiple roommates, all of us young and crazy. So she got pregnant, and had a huge litter.

Out of her litter I ended up keeping two. The runt of the litter was the only black and white tux of the bunch and I decided instantly that I’d be keeping that one. I named her Pearl.

My boyfriend at the time decided he wanted one and he picked out the grey and white tux. This little kitten had some crusty goo on her that Melanie didn’t get cleaned up right away. Due to this she was named by this boyfriend and for the rest of her life had to bear the unfortunate name of Goober. And when boyfriend and I broke up I of course insisted on keeping Goober.

Guess what? I didn’t get them spayed right away, and nature took its course. Not even a year later Pearl had kittens.

I swore I wouldn’t keep any, but then I got attached. There was one black, longhaired male I called Sammy. I actually found him a home and gave him away, but then my heart was broken. I contacted his new owner to see about getting Sammy back and it turned out that Sammy had not stopped crying in his new home. The new owner was about to call me to tell me to come get that yowly kitten. So I got my Sammy back.

In bed with my babies. This picture is pre-Moe.

Sammy had a sister he was very close to. Again I tried to give the sister away, but then couldn’t. And that same boyfriend stepped in and said I should just keep her. That kitten was Ishtar, a mysterious, black warrioress.

Finally, with the help of my awesome mom, I got everyone spayed and neutered.

Then the moving began. I moved seven times with those five cats, and five of those times were cross-country. But I was completely bonded with my babies. I would never give them up for anything. And fortunately of the five, there were two black and white tuxes, two all black, and Goober. So I told landlords I had two or three cats. I figured as long as they never saw all the cats together they’d never know. That actually worked. I was never caught with cats that weren’t on the lease.

During my college days it was love me, love my cats. I was leery of dating boys who were allergic to cats, and any romantic relations in my life knew the cats and I were a package deal. If forced to choose, guess what- I’m going feline every time.

And we really were a close family. They would lie in a big pile on my lap and purr. Their purring could heal my soul, and their love and warmth could melt my heart. We were a total team, and we lived for one another.

I did have a dog in all this, Rainbow, who I also loved very much. Rainbow and I had a tight bond as well, but I really am part cat. I connect one hundred percent with cat energy while dog is a bit more difficult for me. But Rainbow was the perfect dog for me, and I could blog on her endlessly, just as I could with the cats. When she died it was tragic, but she had lived a long and fun dog life. She was a major part of the family and even the cats loved her.

And there was an addition to my cat family in 2001. A little black kitten appeared crying outside my window one night. Of course I fed her, and the boyfriend at that time asked what I’d be naming my new kitten. Bah said I! I’m not taking that cat in!

A few days later the kitten strolled into the apartment, and never strolled out. The lady cats did not accept this, but Sammy liked the kitten, and the kitten toughed it out.

I declared that I would find this kitten a home, and named her Moe, because I could not take on one Moe kitty. But she purred on me, and kneaded my lap, and got me with her magic. So I kept her, because after all, when you have five cats, what’s one Moe kitty?

About a year later, Sammy died, and for a little while my world stopped. He got out at night, and was hit by a car. He crawled back to the house, and I stupidly did not rush him to the emergency vet, a decision I’ll always regret.

He died in the night. I was broken. This was the first of my brood that I’d lost.

Then Melanie started having seizures. And this happened just a couple weeks before we (myself and the man I would eventually marry) were moving from Colorado to Ohio.

With a lot of heavy vet care, monetary help from my parents (thanks parents), and tenacity, we got Melanie’s medical situation sorted out. But we were left to give her phenobarbital and eventually insulin (yes, she turned out to be both epileptic and diabetic) injections twice a day. This made traveling difficult, but we still did it, either by traveling with the cat (not recommended) or spending a small fortune on a pet sitter.

And then my Goober got breast cancer. At first it was treatable by simply removing the tumors, and we were able to do this for a few years.

Melanie actually died next. For all her ailments she died from a mouth infection.

A few months after that cancer got the best of Goober, and I put her down. At this point I had lived the process three times of taking my baby to the vet and holding them while they died. I did this for Rainbow, Melanie, and Goober, (Sammy died at the house, another source of guilt that he didn’t die in my arms) and there aren’t really words for what it’s like to hold your babies as they go to the spirit realm.

But Pearl, Ishtar, Moe, hubby, and I continued to live, and love, and move.

Ishtar was next to get cancer. She had an awful go of it, and I’ve written about it here, so I won’t hash out the details. But she lived well after we had her tumors removed, and got her eating.

And in this little interim I got another dog, Pasha, who is also my love and my light. He’s a 25 pound black rescue Pomeranian, and again I could spend countless blogs on him. I’m still not really a dog person, but Pasha and I understand one another. He’s a perfectly perfect dog for me, and we have a close bond.

Just this year I lost my Pearl. Again, I share the tale here, so I’m not going to retell it. But it was sad, and now I was truly worried. Of my original pride of five, I had one left, plus my little Moe.

I couldn’t imagine life with only one cat, as Ishtar was seventeen and a cancer survivor. I knew her time was running out. So my husband and I decided to think about acquiring a kitten.

I wanted littermates so they could grow up together and lie in a pile and snuggle. I had just had a three-generation cat family and I wanted to recreate that as best as possible. But I knew getting a kitten and letting it reproduce was not acceptable.

In July my husband called me, and said he was staring at a kitten that needed a home. The kitten had crawled out from under a friend’s porch. Not one to look a gift kitten in the mouth, I told him to bring him home. The one unfortunate thing was it was only one kitten, no littermates.

Enter the new kitten, a little orange tabby that would come to be called Harold. I had a new baby.

This is how I woke up after my first night with Harold. It was instant love.

A few weeks later I had a rehearsal at a theater with my dance company. We were hanging out before rehearsal started when a little white kitten appeared. The little guy was playing in the cars and was dangerously close to a busy street. I grabbed him, and had a sense our relationship would not end here. But we had to rehearse, so I decided to leave the kitten in a safer place away from the street and deal with it after rehearsal.

Well, afterwards there he was, playing in the street again all alone. Needless to say, at that point I took him home.

He is a white color point Siamese with huge blue eyes and he holds a lot of magic. I named him Spooky, and he became friends with Harold. They may not be littermates, but because they are growing up together they are close, and they snuggle and play together. And I fell instantly and deeply in love with both of them. They are my new little boys.

After the kittens became settled Ishtar took her cue. I felt like she knew I could better handle her death now that I had Moe and the kittens. Her mouth cancer came back, and she stopped eating. I held her and talked to her, and I knew it was time, time to say goodbye to the last of

Here’s Spooky!

my original cat family.

It was the time I dreaded ever since I established my little family, the time when it all came to an end. It was a huge turning point in my life. I had those cats for 14-17 years, my entire adult life. I did not know life without them. It was profound change, and it made me feel my age and the end of an era.

The evening after I put Ishtar down I was a mess. I sat on the couch and Harold came to me. He lay in my arms and purred his little heart out while I sobbed. He began to heal my heart with the vibrations of his purr, and he stayed like that with me for a long time.

So that’s my story. It’s a long one, but something I had to share. It’s kind of’ funny that those cat deaths happened in the midst of this blog project, because without the project I would not have written about them at all. But those five cats deserve to have their tale told. They were special, and what we had was special and rare. I am sure we reincarnate together in various forms, and maybe sometimes I am the pet and they are the owner. Certainly we have reincarnated together in a myriad of relationships and bodies.

The last picture I took of my Ishtar…

This is a tale of death and sadness, but it’s also about change and new beginnings. And it’s about the amazing, touching, intense relationship that develops between animals and humans. Those cats were my kids and they were my world. I will survive, and I look forward to the new joys of my new family- Pasha, Moe, Harold, Ishtar, Hubby, and I…. and two lizards and a snake. But I will always love those first cats, and I will always be partly defined by those babies. And I will always be part cat.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aiedaile
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 06:48:17

    An absolutely beautiful post. I could feel the love the love you had and have for these cats. Though I never held any of my babies as they passed on, I still feel their absences with great pain. I wish you the best of luck with your family. May you all be blessed.

    Reply

  2. Jim Lasher
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 11:47:31

    What a great post on your life with the kitty children. Just to let others know we have one of Melanie’s offsping – an all black kitty named Stoche who is now 18 years old. As you know he adores you. When you visit, he obviously knows who are by the way he snuggles and digs into your hair. So part of the line still lives on.
    Your father

    Reply

  3. Wendy S.
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 00:29:34

    Being a huge cat lover I was enchanted by this story with all the happy parts and sadness. I don’t think we ever get over when we have to say goodbye to a beloved kitty we just get through. It’s really inspiring how you were and are able to devote yourself to your fur children and be there with them in the end. Thank you for a lovely ode to your cats.

    Reply

  4. Buddhagan
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 03:59:16

    What a great, happy, sad, story! I swear my dog Samus is part cat. She’s a toy poodle and loves to be held and pet.

    Reply

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