This morning, like every morning, she jumped on the bed, to sit in my lap and purr. For as long as I will stay in bed.
She makes it hard to get out of bed. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. The other is at night, when she starts coming around as if to say, “hey now, when are you coming to bed for our snuggle?”
I don’t know what I’m going to do once she’s gone.
Today I made the decision that I can’t keep her with me any longer. I am headed to the veterinarian’s office in a couple of hours. Even though she still is herself at times. But I’ve had to coax her to eat the last two times. And she’s starting to hide. She’s licking all the time and last night when I found her under the guest bedroom covers, she had pink drool down the side of her chin with the bone tumor. It’s getting bigger. And I felt like she let me touch it last night, as if to allow me to make it better. The same with the herbal extract I had started to give her via dropper the last week. She trusts me. But I can’t make it better. I can only help her move on to the next stage, where there is no more pain.
I was going to write this after the appointment. Spend the morning with her. Make this last day a full one. But she didn’t want to go outside this morning. I even carried her outside and she let me know clearly that she was not interested, and pasted herself up at the door to come in. So we went on to catnip. She loved that, I took a video of it and some more pictures. And now she’s sleeping, under the covers again. And if that keeps her out of feeling pain, that’s what I want for her for her last few hours. This isn’t about me anymore. Actually, it has never been. When she was first diagnosed with a bone tumor (we had hoped it was an infection, but it didn’t respond to antibiotics, it only grew bigger) I told the vet that we weren’t putting her through chemo, we were only going to let her enjoy her last time here on earth. She’s 13. And at that point, she was acting completely like herself. I don’t even know how long she had the bump on her chin before I noticed it. The vet agreed, gave me a sheet about quality of life. Tracey (my vet tech daughter) said to pick a couple of things she liked to do and when she wasn’t doing those anymore, I’d know. I think I’ve decided a little earlier than most people might. But I’ve seen her turn a corner and it’s only downhill from here. And I watched one of my best friends die from cancer. I’m going to spare her that. We are lucky we can spare our pets that, but oh the responsibility of this decision is so, so, heavy.
I really hope there is an afterlife and that I will see her again. She’s been such a good companion. And so, enough of the grief, I’m going to talk about all she means to me right now. Because I can’t really focus on much else, anyway.
My cousin-in-law’s kitty was Gracie’s mother. She sent us a picture of the litter, and I picked Gracie from the photo. She was a pretty little thing. A calico. I have been scouring my computer files for a Gracie kitten photo but, alas, can’t find one. I’ve lost a lot of digital pictures over the years from hard drive failures. Just trust me. She was cute, had really great markings, and double paws, that were white. She looked like she wore mittens.
My daughter Kelly came with me to pick her up. She fell in love with a yellow tiger and wanted me to pick him instead. But I had my heart set on Gracie. I picked her up, put her in my lap, and she promptly stood up and jumped onto the couch and laid down next to my leg. My mind wandered to switching to the yellow tiger. But I stuck with this gal who knew her own mind. Very cat-like.
I was wearing a green fleece. She snuggled into it on the ride home. Every time I had that fleece on the bed, she would snuggle into it. Once it finally became no longer wearable (it lasted a LONG time, it was just this past year), it wound up down in my sewing room, waiting for me to make a pillow for a basket she lays in. I never got to it. After I found out she was sick I just picked it up as is and laid it in the basket. I’ve found her in the basket a few times snuggling into it. I’m going to bring it with me when we go to the vet for her ride “home.”
The first time I took her to the vet, they said, “oh, a Calico, they have tough personalities.” I told them she was great, I hadn’t seen any signs of that.
The signs eventually came. She would all of a sudden just not want you to touch her. She wanted things on her own terms (we had that sign at the beginning), she would whip her tail around (I actually never could figure out if she wagged that tail like a dog because she did it when she seemed to be happy, too). It took two people to cut her nails (or one person with her wrapped up in a blanket). She would scream bloody murder and the moment we were done it was like nothing had happened, she’d just whip that tail a little more. She had that cattitude to deal with the dogs, to let them know she was the ultimate boss (Max, my other cat, runs away from Koda).
Gracie talks ALL THE TIME. She talks when she is happy. She talks when she is mad. She is a chatty kitty. I never really could figure her out. She is the QUIRKIEST kitty I’ve ever met. Her own “person.” I love her even more for that. I have a thing for quirky.
I could go on and on forever. But I won’t. The last thing I want to say is that she and Max are pals. I call them the “gang of two.” They have never allowed another cat settle into this house. We got a stray once. He would always sleep with his back against the wall. Eventually he just left. And Tracey came home with her cats for awhile. They didn’t get to stay. Gracie would walk up to Max as if to say, “Max, he’s bothering me” and all of a sudden Max would go after that cat. It was bizarre. Together, they had their own love/hate thing going on. Gracie would grab a hold of Max and groom him. I used to have a picture of that, but I haven’t found that either – I’ll keep looking. She doesn’t really groom him anymore. Gracie is queen of my lap. Max knows to stay away if she’s already present (except for last night. We all snuggled together on the couch). Max is king of the food dishes. I feed them across the room from each other and I often have to block him from coming over before Gracie is done. Once she’s done, I let him finish up her food. Many times they get into fights and I have to yell, “knock it off!” You never know when the hello is going to turn into someone looking at each other the wrong way and then the escalation begins. But it may all just be play getting out of hand. As I’ve said, I can’t figure this girl out. And even at age 13, she still (up until the last week) could be caught zooming around the house in kitten mode.
When my cat Cosby died, he had something similar. A growth. When the time came, all of us gathered around him on the bed and said goodbye. Gave him a brushing, petted him. Last night, snuggling on the couch, I feel like Max and Gracie got a goodbye time (even though they weren’t really interacting with each other, but they were both interacting with me). And Andy and I got snuggle time with her last night. She crawled under the covers and snuggled into my sideways “lap” a couple of times as I was drifting off to sleep (it was hard to do last night, knowing I was going to say goodbye to her today). And this morning, we had our last morning snuggle. My heart breaks to even write that last line.
It’s almost time to leave. I’m going to close with some pictures of my Gracie. And a link to this post I wrote about her years ago. She’s been a lovely kitty. I’m going to miss her so much.
There are so many more….Thank goodness for cameras.
PS the scary-looking picture is a yawn. But, to me, it’s always represented the wild thing she became when we cut her claws!
I’m back now. She’s gone. My lovely friend told me to ask Gracie to give me signs after she went to her next life. I told Gracie that and that we’d think about a sign. Right after that the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star played on my Pandora Piano Guys radio station. I told her I will be looking for her up in the night sky.