Sunday, September 21, 2014
Post 2777 - A Death In The Family
Sunday evening. The deed took place early Saturday afternoon. And our hearts are still breaking.
We are down to a one cat household.
Cindy Clawford, a.k.a. "Cindy Windy", a.k.a. "Little Girl", a.k.a. "Princess", was put down shortly after 1pm at the Atlantic Cat Hospital on Quinpool Road.
Friday morning, Patricia decided, and I sadly agreed, that Cindy's time had come. She had been failing for a couple of years. I think she only lived this long because of Herculean efforts on Patricia's part. Patricia spent great sums on specialised food, on medicines, on periodic vet visits to receive even more medicines. They just delayed the inevitable.
There was a mass in Cindy's right flank, finally shown to me by the vet yesterday, which was killing her. It was a tumour, an aggressive one, that made her quality of life become poorer and poorer. I will not specify the list of dignity-robbing events that stripped her of more and more of the things that made her such a special cat. However, I will spend the next few paragraphs telling you how she was a special cat.
Cindy Clawford was named by her first owner, a man named Trent, who discovered what was either a little mouse or a little cat during his shift at a Halifax work site. This was sometime late in 2001, we gather. It turned out to be an extremely small kitten, one that fit in the palm of his hand. It appeared to have been abandoned by its mother, probably because it was the runt and could not be cared for. It Trent had not come along when he did, it is very hard to say what would have happened to the kitten. Nothing good. Plenty of rats roam around that area. I will leave it at that.
Trent was a single man at the time. He took a shine to the kitten and scooped her up and took her home to his trailer, which was (ahem!) kitty corner to Patricia's. He would feed the kitten with an eye dropper and take her to his work and leave her in his truck during his shift so that it wouldn't be alone in his house. Somewhere along the way he named her Cindy Clawford.
Cindy started to run around the neighbourhood with other cats. Other times, Trent would leave her in the backyard tied to a stake, where other cats and animals would be able to attack her and hurt her. And other times still she would make her way to other people's trailers and spend time with them.
One of these places was Patricia's. One very cold night, Patricia got home late and noticed and heard a cat mewling and practically crying from the cold. She opened her door. Cindy poked her head inside and looked around. When she decided there was nothing there to hurt her, she hopped in and walk around as if she had just paid off Patricia's mortgage. Patricia went to bed and Cindy was soon behind her. At one point, she woke up, and Cindy was wrapped around Patricia's head.
Cindy didn't leave the next morning, so Patricia left her behind, fearful of the havoc that the cat would cause during the day. Much to her surprise, Cindy had improvised a litter box during the day, taking a number two in the bathtub, right by the drain.
Cindy hung around more and more. She would look out Patricia's back door and look out at Trent's backyard. One time, Trent looked up and saw Cindy looking back at him. By this time, Trent had a woman and perhaps even a baby and the wife didn't want a cat around a baby. Bitch. It was the woman who wouldn't let Cindy stay in the house any more and kicked her out and made her fend for herself. Bitch.
Not long afterward, Trent walked over and asked Patricia if she knew someone who would want a cat. Patricia enthusiastically agreed, and Cindy moved in officially very close to Hurricane Juan in September of 2003.
Cindy was using to being a roamer. Turning her into a house cat was a challenge for her and me, and more than a few times she got away from us. But after a while she got used to the creature comforts of someone cleaning out her litter box for her, someone feeding her, and having a very warm and friendly place to sleep. She avoided going outside after October or so, and wouldn't hear of it until April.
The years passed. When Patricia's mother died in '04, Cindy comforted Patricia by rubbing her head against Patricia's head. When my father died in '10, both Cindy and Newbie hovered around me in a "Are you okay?", worried stance. But in the 11 years Patricia had Cindy, she provided a companionship that was second to none.
Cindy was a one-of-a-kind-cat. She had a temperament that reminded us of so many humans. She could be funny. She was loyal. She had an empathy that is hard to describe unless you have had a cat that was like that. We loved her to pieces.
She began to take ill about 2 years ago. Once again, I will spare you the details. We noticed a huge weight loss, but she gamely continued on, maybe more for us than for her.
Finally, 2 days ago, tears in her eyes, Patricia made the final decision. The Cat Hospital had a cancellation, and could take us in at 1pm.
We decided to make Cindy's last 24 hours as pleasant as possible. Patricia quadrupled Cindy's medicine dosages to prevent the usual symptoms of her disease. We took her outside and let her run around in the backyard. We held her over and over and told her how much we loved her. We cried. We held her some more.
Saturday morning, we continued to lavish our praise and love on her. She ran around some more. She ate chicken breasts. We held her some more. We made sure that Newbie had a chance to "say" goodbye.
All too soon, the time came to scoop Cindy up and take her to the vet. Patricia carried her in her favourite blanket. We arrived at the vet's around 12:45. It was the annual Quinpool Road fare. The happy faces were a sharp contrast to our own.
The vet's assistant got a few pictures of us holding Cindy. One of them is at the top of this post; it was taken about 10 minutes before the end. We continued to play with Cindy in the room where she would die, telling her how much we loved her, and how much we would miss her. That she was the best cat ever.
Finally, the veterinarian and her assistant came into the room and explained the procedure. Cindy would get two needles. The first one would relax her and put her to sleep. The second one would stop her heart. Were we ready?
We were both blubbering by this time. Patricia kept asking Cindy if it was all right to let her go. As if in response, Cindy stood up, walked over to Patricia, and gave her a head butt, before walking over to me and doing the same thing. Cindy knew that we knew that she knew it was time to go, that she had suffered enough pain and endured enough indignities and that she had had enough.
She lay down with one paw on Patricia's hand and stared at her. The first needle went in. 30 seconds later, she was unconscious. The second needle went in. 30 seconds later, the doctor used her stethoscope and announced that Cindy was gone.
We guarantee that the last thing that Cindy Clawford/Little Girl/Princess/Cindy Windy saw was us looking at her with as much love as any human can have for any animal. Even now, more than a day later, I have tears welling up and I dread being at coffee tomorrow having to tell the boys about my weekend.
People who love animals are a special breed. But people who love cats are a special breed apart. We tolerate and learn to adore, their eccentricities. Their love is earned and not freely given the way a dog's is. The relationship between a cat and a human is on a much more organic level that cannot be explained to someone who doesn't like cats. It just cannot be done. It is easier to explain Quantum Mechanics to a box of kleenex.
We have spent the last 30 hours or so talking about Cindy, crying, and doing retail therapy all in an effort to process what has happened to all of us. Newbie is quieter than he normally is. He is walking around the house, wondering where his older sister is. He is now here in my home office, having climbed to the top of an entertainment centre. I can see him looking at me. I feel like Trent.
Life will go on for us. Maybe someday we will have a second cat again. But it can never be the same again. Just never. Cindy was one-of-a-kind. We will miss her. And she misses us.
In the coming weeks, Cindy will be cremated and her ashes returned to us. In the mean time, Cindy will be kept in a freezer, a detail I know she would hate.
After all, she always disliked the cold.
See you tomorrow.