Elegy to a furbag

She had perfect hair, and that’s saying something.  It was medium length, mostly medium brown, with highlights of grey-black and ginger and even some light…light that could have been blond or could have been white.  And, soft?  It had the most flawless texture—hard to imagine hair so soft.

Her eyes?  The most beautiful eyes, almond-shaped and a shade of green like the colour of emeralds that sparkled in the right light.  Her eyeliner, a think black rim around the top and the bottom, was perfection.

Her feet were tiny by anyone’s standards and her nails were most always clean, neat and dainty.

Until she dug them into your knee or the leather couch.

Sammy @ 17

That was Sam, and she died last fall at nearly 18 years old.

Pretty good for a cat.

DSCN0303 (2)I’d only had her for four years, after her owners moved overseas and couldn’t keep her.  The idea of adopting a 13 year old cat was a little daunting (animal doctors and dollar signs danced in my head), but if we didn’t take her, who would? No one wants an older cat.

So we took her home and she was lovely.  Settled right in and joined the family. Loved a daily outing in the backyard and a morning snack of a few blades of grass, but was terrified of the magpies (there was clearly some sort of event, and Sammy must have come out on the losing endIMG-20140205-00059—you don’t want to screw with magpies).  Loved the fireplace and a lap whenever and wherever she could find one.

She was with me until October of last year…and got me through the rough spots—made me feel needed and loved.

Her end was sad but it was quick.  She woke up one morning and had a seizure.  This wasn’t the first time—she had had a few before.  How many I couldn’t say, but this one seemed worse as she was having trouble moving her hind legs.

I couldn’t stay home with her as I had my first interview for my new job that day, so I moved her stuff to the lower level of the condo so she had access to everything she’d need on one level.

By the time I got home she couldn’t move her back legs at all.  I picked her up and took her to the litter box and held her there while she peed; I spoon fed her her favourite food.  And I just held her.

By the middle of the night I knew this was different, and I think I knew what was coming.  I searched for overnight animal clinics, but the comments I saw about my options were so distressing that I waited until 7 am and called the vet clinic in the plaza next to my house.

I had heard great things about them, and every word was true.  They were compassionate and caring; they didn’t question my decision, and when I carried Sammy in, cradled in a blanket in a laundry basket, they let me sit with her for a while and they made her transition a quiet and peaceful one.

It was tough; I’ve had cats and dogs before and I’ve been with them all when it was time.  The first, a smart little Siamese named Curly, I couldn’t watch and instantly regretted not being there for her. And for the second, Satchie, I was out of town, and she died at home in someone else’s arms. I regretted that too–both that I wasn’t there and also that I waited too long.

Then there were our dogs and that was hard too. It’s difficult with all of them.

But Sammy: she was along for the ride all through my separation and divorce–the one constant, there in the morning and at the end of the day and was always happy to see me. She was funny and affectionate and I couldn’t bear the thought of ever replacing her.

So over the months, I’ve had a few visitors. Rent-a-cats, if you will.

mitza collage

First there was Mitza, a tough little squirt from Brooklyn.  She’s been over to visit on and off;

cat collage

Then there was Cat (yes that’s her name).  She’s my son’s and he was away for a few months at the beginning of the year.  She isn’t as big as she looks; she’s just hairy.

And now, I would like you to meet:

alice and fin

Ta da! Fin (left) and Alice(right) moved in about two weeks ago.  Sorry about the bad pix; they only come out for about half an hour each night, so I had to grab these shots while I could.  They live under the bed. I’m certain there will be many more, and better, photos of them as we go along.

Fin and Alice are my friend Liz’s cats; just like Sammy’s “parents”, she’s moving overseas and can’t take them.  At seven and nine years old, they might have gone a long while before finding a home. And again, I can’t imagine how they would have fared at a shelter.

Alice lived in my recliner for the first week (the one Cat is sitting on)–took a while to find her (Cat hid there too) but it turns out there’s a box at the bottom of the chair that is apparently a perfect fit for a cat–and Fin just stayed under the bed.  Now they both spend the better part of the day under the bed.

But they’re slowly working their way out. They come out when I’m at my computer (I just saw them both a few minutes ago) and they tear around a bit at night…they play a bit with the basket of toys I’ve gathered over the years, and they do love to be brushed.

So now the house and my heart are both full again.  Quiet so far, but full.

I see that many of my friends are going through the same thing–losing pets and gaining new ones–and I got to thinking that perhaps, for those of us with kids, it’s kind of cyclical.  It seems for some whose kids are younger, they’re just losing their first round of four legged friends; for people like me, it might be their second or third.

Whatever the case, I know it’s sad–heartbreaking, even– and the first reaction is to say you’ll never do it again. But I have to say I’ve never regretted investing the time, money, and heart into having another little buddy, or two, in the house.

Please go ahead and share your memories in the comments section!

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