Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Life and Love of a Cat - A Tribute to Ms. Kitty (? - Dec. 7, 2010)

This was one of those weeks … A week you never look forward to: saying goodbye to one of your pets.

Ms. Kitty was a short-haired black cat (with a unique scar across her nose) that chanced upon me over 11 or 12 years ago. She was a cast-off, left behind at a boarding house by an owner who couldn’t take her when he left. Instead, she went from tenant to tenant on a daily basis, hoping for food and shelter, and in many cases was left abandoned and locked down in the basement. Nevertheless, she still loved people and wanted to be pet by everyone.

When I discovered she didn’t have a bonafide owner, I took her in. I will never forget the first time she came into the house. She plopped down in front of the couch and rolled joyously about on her back, grabbing the carpet with her paws and doing circles of bliss. She was definitely saying “Thank you for giving me a home! At last!”

At first she was an indoor/outdoor cat, and was always racing to meet me as I pulled into the driveway when I arrived home from work. She was an excellent companion, and in many ways understood me better than most people did. From her, I learned to distinguish when a cat smiled and when they felt scared. When I arrived at the vets to pick her up from her first checkup, the vet told me she must think very highly of me, as she behaved incredibly violent toward him and his staff J

There were times she gave me hope and a reason to keep going, as she walked the darkest paths of my life with me – a separation and divorce, isolation from the family, coming to terms with the realization that I wasn’t “normal” due to developing psychic abilities. When I felt other people couldn’t relate to me, or when I felt a total outcast amongst the rest of the world, she would look me in the eyes and tell me in her own way “I get you, and I love you.” I will never forget, during the height of my isolation living in a small apartment, I had fallen asleep on my futon – only to wake up and discovered she had climbed onto my chest and fallen asleep with me. That’s the kind of companion she was.

When Heidi and I got married, she carried that love over to her (though she hated her cat). In these last few years, before running downstairs for breakfast, she made a point of greeting Heidi – going out of her way to jaunt into the bedroom and meow as if to say “Good morning, mommy!” She would sometimes follow Heidi around more than me, looking for a nice snack or an occasional “pick me up and pet me.”

Over the last year or so, things started to change with my beloved feline. She lost practically all her weight and stopped using the litter box (something I could tell she wasn’t happy about. I could see some humiliation after catching her in the act). She became more brazen and bold at trying to get more food, as if she were starving 24/7. The vet told us her thyroid and everything was normal; she was just getting old. She started sleeping more and more, keeping to only one or two places in the house.

On Tuesday during morning meditation, I decided to ask my guides how Kitty was doing; I could see she was tired, and every day was more of a trial than it was a joy. Still, I was not prepared for what they told me: “Today is the day.” I didn’t want to believe them. I mean, sure, she had slowed down, but there wasn’t any other adverse medical conditions that she displayed. I figured she at least still had 3 or 4 more weeks left – maybe up through the new year, and that she would just fall asleep and not wake up when the time came. In their kindness, my guides said “If not today, then 3 or 4 days, maximum – but today is really it.”

When I let the cats out of their room (we keep them locked up overnight), I totally expected her to bounce out like she normally would – run to Heidi to greet her – then clamor downstairs for her morning meal. Upon seeing that, I could say to my guides “See, you’re wrong.”

That didn’t happen.

She didn’t come running out; she sauntered. She didn’t go into the bedroom to greet Heidi, rather she wandered to the stairs and slowly jogged down them, versus her usual dash. I also noticed her front paws looked like they might be swollen.

My heart sank.

At breakfast, she ate up, then made her way to the usual sleep spot and hunkered down. I told myself, she’ll be all right … Yep, that’s what I told myself, but not what I truly felt inside. Still, I went to work … battling in my consciousness what my guides had told me and what I wanted to believe. It was one of the hardest days at work in my life, having that cloud hang over me. I bawled in my car at lunch.

When I got home, she still greeted me at the door, like she always did. But instead of circling me to feed her, she went back to her sleep spot. When I laid down her food, she didn’t eat it all at once – and that certainly wasn’t normal. She came back for bits at a time, alternating between her sleep spot and the food bowl. And indeed, I could tell for certain now, her paws were swollen. I still argued, though, that today was not today … Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, but not today …

I spent every moment I could with her that evening. I scooped her up and we watched three-quarters of a movie together, like we always did (though we used to finish the film). At that three-quarters mark, she jumped off the couch – but refused to get back up. She tried to stand … wobbled … then laid back down. I took her to her sleep spot, where she laid her head on her paws and just stared off into oblivion, as if waiting for the inevitable. I knew my guides were right. She was dying.

Heidi rushed home from her engagement when I called her to tell her what was happening. When she arrived, Kitty acknowledged her by lifting her head ever so slightly and feigned a meow - yet it came out silent. She refused to stand; all she wanted was to lay there with her head down.

Now, one of our unspoken agreements from years ago was that when the time came, I wouldn’t let her suffer. I knew then, I needed to follow through. She didn’t protest when I placed her into the cat carrier. Nor did she scream in fear as we drove through the rain-soaked streets at 10:30 p.m., in sheer darkness, to the emergency vets office.

I got to hold her in my arms as the vet administered the solution, her little head gently in the palm of my hand. I knew if I was holding her, she would feel safe, and I believe she felt she was. Somewhere during the course of the injection, my senses registered an immense field of wondrous joy bursting open – as if she were suddenly screaming “I am free! I am free!” I looked up and saw in my mind’s eye, Ms. Kitty being picked up by a woman; it may have been one of my relatives or a guide, I wasn’t sure. But the intense feeling of freedom pervaded all my senses; that she was happy was evident -- though that sense of happiness still left me with my own sadness.

Around the same time as she passed away, Heidi’s mom – who had no idea what we were going through – dreamt about Kitty in her sleep. She saw her strutting with spunk, weight back on her bones, and filled with energy. She immediately woke up and wondered if something had happened. Indeed, something had.

That night, sleep was tough for me. Maybe three hours at most. However, twice during the deepest rest periods, I could swear I heard Kitty meow in the darkness. The next day, I came home early to catch up on some sleep. I passed out on the couch, then woke up to the unmistakable sound of her purring. In her own way, she was performing ghostly antics to tell me she had made the journey in good form and was quite happy.

Friday morning, I was finally ready to meditate again before starting the day. When I reached the meditation state, my pajama legs physically moved – Ms. Kitty had arrived and was rubbing against me, and it was a real movement of the cloth. In my mind, she then jumped onto my lap and curled up, as she used to do when it was just the two of us. She showed me she was frolicking through grassy fields on the Other Side, playing with mice and birds – all the things she missed since I decided to turn her into an indoor-only cat. She thanked me for taking her to the vet Tuesday night, and made me feel like it was the most loving thing I did for her; that I gave her back her youth. Inside my being, I also felt (and knew) it was right. I had no regrets about putting her to sleep. And, in fact, I’ve emotionally held up amazingly well through the whole ordeal. I figured I would be a blubbering mass for weeks over the loss of Ms. Kitty, but somehow, my internal barometer has made me feel like everything is right with the Universe – I fulfilled my role with her life as she had fulfilled hers with mine.

Yes, it still doesn’t look right not seeing her rush out of the cat room in the morning, or taking her up there at night, or not having her creating an obstacle course at our feet while we’re in the kitchen. Her absence is a void in our lives, no matter how many ghostly meows and purrs I may hear with my physical ears, or sensations of her presence and images she may send me through my senses as a medium. Even so, like I said, there’s a part of me that feels everything is exactly as it should be.

The real interesting thing is, that void of her absence was partially removed Saturday when I brought her ashes home from the vet (we asked for private cremation). It’s something we noticed with Heidi’s cat that passed away a few years back … Even though we know the body is a shell, their ashes still contain the feeling of their presence. I can only think it has to do with the notion of quantum entanglement. Their life force filled their bones and body for so many years … it does leave an impression after they die. Bringing her ashes back … made it feel like home, at least provisionally. I know that may sound a bit morbid, but it’s the truth.

Our two other cats, I think, are adjusting. No doubt, they have been wondering where she went.

One thing I know for sure – she’s not too far away. I do physically miss her around; we all do. But her presence is still here in many ways, and I know she’s happy and loves us.

No need to say goodbye, Ms. Kitty – how about, “I’ll see you around.”

Until next time,

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