Friday, November 03, 2006

Fifi Ten Blankets

My cat died today (Nov. 2).

She had been getting worse lately; she was somewhat deaf and meowed really loudly, she had some vision loss -- cataracts, I guess, and some arthritis or weakness in her legs, but otherwise she was pretty spry. She could still hop up onto things -- and when we let her out nearly every day she’d wander over our whole lot, into the neighbor’s lot and disappear. Usually she’d end up lying on the cool creek bed -- a spring that only has water when it rains. But she’d eventually make her way back to the house, by feeding time at the latest, picking her way through the tall grass and leaves. She was especially unsteady on the 31st. I figured the cool weather was making her legs stiff. Probably she was already on her way -- she’d had a fang fall out a few weeks ago from an infection in her mouth and we’d been giving her antibiotics, but I gather now that the tooth problem was likely a symptom of her overall condition and not a sole condition.

Anyway, the point is that she was a very old cat, and we knew her time would be coming soon -- this year or perhaps within a year or two more -- but we still were caught off guard a bit by the suddenness of it because we didn’t see her visibly ailing. Last night though, it was clear she was hurting, or especially stiff, or something. We sat in front of the TV and she slept on Beth’s lap for hours, got up for a little dinner, and then got on my lap (my belly, actually -- my too-large-for-my-frame stomach has been a nice resting place for her body for some time now) and went to sleep for hours. I tried to sleep with her but it became obvious to us that she was failing, maybe not for the last time (she’d scared us before, only to recover and live on again). But she was definitely sick. Then, in the middle of the night, she started losing motor control and began meowing loudly. Not sure if she was in pain or just frustrated. It took a few hours from then: we put her in a clothes basket and brought her to the bedroom and comforted her in her pangs. Then, around 7 a.m., she died.

Fifi (short for Ophelia) was about 17 years old. Which is pretty darn old for a pet. Beth rescued her and her brother Socks (Socrates) from the wild and when we got married, the two siblings and another cat she’d also rescued, Morris, became my cats too. They were my family, and while I am very aware that they got to live much longer lives than they would have if they’d stayed in the wild, it still is very sad to have lost them. Morris must have been around 18 when he died in winter of 2000 after suffering a stroke. Socks, who was pretty fat, died 4 years ago on Nov. 1, due to complications from his diabetes. Fifi also was mildly diabetic, though it never seemed to affect her until recently. She was also born feline leukemia positive, meaning she was definitely a carrier and could have developed terrible complications and died early, but she never did. The vet doctors all recommended that feline leukemia cats be put down when it’s discovered -- apparently they are all convinced that no cat would ever survive it. But Fifi never had any troubles from it.

I guess I don’t have anything especially creative to say. I just felt I needed to talk a bit about her. I loved that cat -- I loved all of them; they were as much family to me as other people’s kids. Of course, you don’t feel the same about kits as you do kids, because kits are adults that pretty much take care of themselves. But Fifi, Socks and Morris were all as much a part of my family as humans would have been. They are all three buried in the yard now. Morris is in the back, under some trees (we call it Morris’ Woods), Socks is amongst the trees to the north of the house and Fifi went under the rich soil in front of the bushes in the middle of the yard where she used lie, taking stock of things.

We gave them a nice home here, and my continual unemployment provided me some very top quality snuggling time with the Pooks (one of many nicknames for Fifi). She would lie on my belly on the couch, trapping me in front of the TV, forcing me to watch endless movies for hours at a time, much of which was spent on American Movie Classics. Clint Eastwood, I know ye well. Those sessions would often leave me too hot to sleep. I’ve got this temperature thing, if I get too hot I can’t shed the heat -- Beth has posited that this is because I’m actually some sort of reptile. Very recently, I made the comment that I didn’t need a blanket if I had Fifi on me because she was the equivalent of 10 blankets. So, in addition to Ophelia, Fifi, Pooks, Pooky, Pook de Ville, Fiferlie, Pretty Girl, Her Fifiness, and other nicknames, we can remember that cat by her American Indian-style name: Fifi Ten Blankets.

Life would be a lot cooler if we all went by Indian names, don’t you think?


Nicki said...

From the geriatric pet ward--Laura and I are so sorry for you both. All you can do is be grateful they were with you for the time you had with them.

Crazy John said...

I'm sorry about your cat. I'm greatly allergic to cats, but I mourn yours just the same.

dave, animal friend said...

Thank you, both.