Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saying Goodbye

June 27, 2017 - 

When my husband and I were wed 36 years ago, we were a union of two--no pets. He was a dog-lover. I was a lover of cats. I guess you could call it a mixed marriage.
As the years passed, we became a family of four with two beautiful daughters. And we thought we were content and happy and had everything we needed.
We were wrong.
One day, our younger daughter met a kitty. An adorable little kitten living in a miserable, unforgiving, unloving place; a place where a newspaper was her litter box; a place where food was whatever her "family" felt like giving her; and a place where an out-of-control 3-year old routinely pulled out her whiskers and terrorized her.
Her "family" knew so little about her, that they assumed she was a male and called her "Buddy". One look and we knew that Buddy was a sweet little girl in need of a real home, a real family. And so she became ours.
We had read all of the books about introducing a kitten to your household. We live in a large house, and we didn't want her to feel overwhelmed by such a large expanse. We thought it best to isolate her to just a small room to start with, and then gradually introduce her to the larger world.
She knew different.
As soon as she crossed the threshold, our world was her oyster. She ran to every room, nook, and corner, happily sniffing and exploring. Her first night in our house was spent in the utility room (husband had no experience with cats and feared that she might leave an unpleasant "surprise" on the carpet overnight. Maybe dogs do that, but cats certainly don't).
But before the week was over our daughters' bedroom doors were left open and she was welcome to sleep wherever she wished. (What a brazen hussy!)

Remember the movie "Signs"? 

We learned that cats are more perceptive, much more evolved than we. They hear what we cannot hear, see what we cannot see, and (I think) feel beyond what we feel. And they love unconditionally.
(And they are so wise, we need to protect their thoughts from alien invasion!).

In Kyla's mind she was top-of-the heap, cat-of-the-walk, best-of-the-best. She was our queen bee (and she knew it!). She thought highly of herself, and why not? She was the kitty that needed us, but we found that we needed her even more. I firmly believe that in her unequivocal love she made me a better person.
We would not allow her to step outdoors on her own because we live in an environment with raccoons and coyotes and even the occasional bear. Not a safe place for little girl kitties. She did go outside, however, on a leash. And she loved it.
On the safety of a leash she could explore and sniff, chew on grass, pounce in the vinca minor, and love the fresh air. She did this in rain, shine, and even when snow was on the ground! But the house--our rooms, our carpets, our closets, special boxes and perches and hiding places--was her home.
In time, the little ball of fluff whom my husband had originally referred to as "the cat" became his lap-buddy. Not an instant transformation mind you, but as days turned into weeks, months, and years, the little girl who originally seemed to fear men came to recognize that Dad was kind and gentle. Gradually they formed an alliance, a bond.
In the last 2 or 3 years I don't think my husband was able to sit in a chair without our little girl hopping up into his lap. My husband is tall, and she was a beautifully long and slender kitty. She luxuriated, stretching out to the max on his long legs.
She spent 13 years in our house. Thirteen funny, and fun, and loving years.

Three years ago today, she left us without warning. The veterinarian said it was a heart attack. All I know is that in a moment she was gone, limp and lifeless, already romping in that Heavenly place where kitties can run to every room, nook, and corner, happily sniffing and exploring.

floral remembrance from Kyla's veterinary staff. They loved her too.

In the days and weeks that followed we received several loving notes in response to this post:

So bittersweet. Your family was blessed to have Kyla just as she was blessed to spend 13 years with a loving family-- HER family. My condolences on your loss. Kyla was obviously more than a pet and you experienced the pure love that only an animal who is a member of the family can give.Oh, what a heart-warming, touching piece and a fine tribute to your beautiful friend.

Oh, how I know that heartache, that sudden, unexpected loss. We, too, lost a kitty suddenly, without a lot of warning. She was so much younger, had been having some troubles, but neither we nor the vet thought it was fatal problems. One morning, we woke up, and she was gone; left us in the night. Oh, how I cried, as I have no doubt you cried over such a sudden loss. The age matters not; it is no less painful than losing any other family member, for family members they surely are! 
This was a beautiful and brave piece; written with such a clear picture of the love you felt for this beautiful little cat. My heart goes out to you and I'm sure your dear kitty is keeping watch over you from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. 
Should you find another kitty, don't think of it as 'replacing' your beloved lost girl; simply know that she sent you a new companion to help heal your heart until you meet again.
Bright blessings upon you for rescuing her and giving her a loving home for the rest of her life.

Aw, I am so, so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful joy of a cat that came in to love you guys! I think that a lot of people, especially men, say they don't like cats--until they are around them! Who could help but not respect and love a cat? I have six (and a dog who probably thinks he is one), and have lost several. My two oldest are 13 plus two that are 11, so I worry about losing them. I'm so sorry you lost your sweet girl but so glad that you saved her--and she saved you in return. It may be too soon, but I hope you take in another one at some point. Lovely post. Thinking of you....


  1. I doubt there is a pet lover who does not understand the sadness associated with losing a loved four-legged friend. We lose one of our animals, on average, once a month, and every single one of those deaths bothers me . . . but losing a close companion, like your cat . . . very hard indeed.

    And then we go right out and get another, knowing it will end in heartache as well . . . such is life, my friend. The joy outweighs the pain of loss.

    1. Bill, when our Kyla died we did not seek out a "replacement". We already had Pumpkin (#2) living with us. Since her loss we have been a one-cat family, and I believe it will stay that way until another little furry person decides that this should be his or her home. We don't find our pets--they find us.

  2. Linda, my heart bleeds for you. I have three cats, one of which just overcame a near-death experience. She was in the hospital for four days, two of which were in ICU. She nearly died of an acute allergy to fleas. The poor girl had to be on IV, in heat treatment for two days to bring her temperature up (it was 89; normal is 99+) and had to have a blood transfusion. The staff didn't expect her to live, but she did and is now back to normal, after two weeks of several different kinds of med taken twice daily. My vet and all who attended to her were thrilled to see my girl, who's almost 10 years old, pull through with flying colors. I think what may have given her the fight to live was my visit while she was in ICU. I stroked her and spoke to her. She actually started purring despite the fact that her body was failing. I think knowing she wasn't alone and that I loved her enough to have the doctors try to save her gave her the strength to live. I call her my beautiful girl. Her name is Shiloh and I love her dearly.

  3. Shauna - They DO hold such special places in our heart, and I truly believe that they love us too. Those who say cats are aloof have never taken the time to understand them. They aren't dogs and don't act like dogs. (Actually, I think that's a good thing).