|Lotus, the grande Dame of our cat family, |
who passed away yesterday on
She REALLY didn't like kittens. Period. Since she was fixed as a very young kitten, she never had any litters of her own, and while she may have tolerated other cats as long as they were worshipfully respectful, kittens were nuisances to be regarded as ping-pong balls and batted around at will. Any small kittens, and we've had a number of them around here, learned very quickly and early on, to give Lotus a huge amount of space.
She was also a freak about tuna, so opening a can of tuna or a can of cat food based on tuna brought her sailing in going "Tun-ah! Tun-ah!" (Swear that's what it sounded like) The minute you put the cat food or tuna within reach, all dignity went out the window and she wallowed. Ergo, her accurate but undignified nickname was "Tuna Face"!
Consistent with her goddess-like maintenance of her "personal space", she was one of the cats around here that you simply could not trim her claws. To do so was to risk life, limb and a trip to the ER for stitches. So her little feet (and she had very dainty, small, trim paws) were tipped with razor edge scimitars all of her life to maintain that personal space with quite effectively.
Which brings me to what it was like taking her to the vet. Oh my....first of all, in keeping with her delicate royal sensibilities, Her Majesty Lotus became violently carsick when she traveled anywhere. Which made transport ever so much fun! Then, there was the fact that while she genuinely loved us, her people, and liked to be petted by humans, tolerated other cats, and viewed batting kittens as contact sport, she loathed, and I do mean LOATHED, going to the vet with a purple undying passion. Veterinarians were Satan-spawn as far as she was concerned, and trips to the vet an approximate descent into hell. Or at least, Lotus saw to it that it was hell for the vet!
Quite awhile back, when her health began to fail, I finally got to see this spectacle first hand. We took her to the vet. We and she survived the trip there, with extra towels. We had called ahead and warned them to break out any protective gear they had, like gloves, because of her disposition towards vets. So, they petted and talked to her at first, as we discussed our concerns with them. No problems so far, they were being appropriately worshipful humans, giving her her royal and respectful due. Then, of course, they had to begin by getting her temperature. Joy. Which generally for a cat means a thermometer up the butt. *I'd* be grumpy, to be honest! They donned heavy leather gloves that went up over the elbow and half way to the shoulder - and thank God they did, because they needed every inch of them!
The second the thermometer was inserted, Lotus went from benignly nodding goddess cat to a furry orange clawing biting raging demon from hell. Dreamweaver and I took a huge step back and said, have fun, guys! I swear I was wondering if the gloves were going to hold or be enough! Wow! Of course, at that visit, we confirmed that the growing "hump" - it really did look enough like the classic "dowager's hump" in a human from osteoporosis that we wondered if that's what she had! - was cancer. Inoperable and nothing to be done. The vet told us that as long as her quality of life was good, even though she was rail skinny from it, that we were to enjoy our time together. She also told us that it would likely go fast when it happened and that we would know, no ambiguity, when it was time to consider alternatives.
That was about a year ago, and we made sure we treasured her every single day - spoiled rotten every second of it! Which suited the Grande Dame perfectly from her perspective! Yesterday, however, which began normally with her usual routine - hop off the bed, go get a snack, something to drink and use the litter pan, then hop back on the bed, suddenly went horribly wrong when she became abruptly half paralyzed from the middle of her back down. She was horribly distressed by this and quite possibly in pain, certainly definitely in extreme discomfort. We instantly decided and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vet's predicted moment was here, and we did indeed know that it was, no ambiguity. So, with our hearts breaking, we took her in and had the vet gently aid her crossing to the Summerlands. The fact that she did not fight it at all, was pretty telling. She was 14 years old and had a grand beautiful long life - and she was very special to Dreamweaver; the last of her cats that came with her to this area when she moved here. So it was indeed the ending of an era, and Lotus' passing brought many old memories, both good and difficult to the fore. We are grieving the loss of our dear cat, but we are also grieving the loss of the past, and for the closing of possibilities and ways that the passing of time brings to all.
Always remember, when you see someone grieving HARD over the loss of a "pet" that its truly the loss of a family member...but it may also be the loss of time, and memories and choices too, that are brought up by that loss.
I am certain that the Summerlands has all the tuna you could want, and loving hands to pet you, and that you are reunited at last with your litter mates and friends who all crossed before you. And if there is such a thing as a veterinarian there, give 'em hell, just for us!
Til we meet again, little orange cat, til we meet again!