Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feline retrospectives

Looking back at the blog for reference, I can see that we're coming up on a year now since the last week I would have considered everything normal with the three cats I moved into my new place with. Twinkle was probably already sick by this time last year, but she wasn't showing it yet; or if she was, I wasn't picking up on it.

I've been mulling it over lately as to why Twinkle's death was so much harder than Max's, at least on me. I mean, even with Twinkle, I didn't really come apart. I don't think I ever really cried; I got misty a few times but it never overwhelmed me. Still, it was rough, and strangely, even though Max isn't even gone a month yet, I still find her passing somehow harder to take. I had Max nearly ten years; he was a prince, and he's only been gone about three weeks. Twinkle I had a year and a half; she was no prize, and she's gone nearly a year. You'd think my feelings would be reversed.

I guess it has to do with conjunctions of the natures of their passing, their characters, and their lives.

Both of them were given up at some point. Max, formerly "Morris", was given up at about the age of two. I don't think he was in the shelters long when I got him. He was easygoing, really liked human beings, hardly ever got mad, and was really enthusiastic about life. Even when he had cancer, I didn't know a thing till it got rough for him to eat. All the time he was chipper, seemed comfortable enough, got around, hopped up on things, was affectionate, pretty much up to the day he died. Pretty much the only reason I took him in to be euthanized was that he was very clearly experiencing bouts of real pain he couldn't hide anymore, and that was quickly overshadowing the enjoyment he was getting out of being alive. But he was only briefly homeless, he had ten good years with me, and he was fairly sound right up to the end.

Twinkle was a whole other ball of wax. The records show she was in the shelter for a while before we picked her up. She had a history of investigations into her urinary tract, and I suspect she was a troubled cat who lost more than one home. She absolutely ruined my futon and a number of smaller, soft items while I had her, though she largely settled down before I moved. She wasn't all that cuddly; she was affectionate strictly on her own terms and schedule, and she had no issues with putting me in my place if she felt the need. But if there was ever a cat who needed someone like me, it was Twinkle. I had some pretty dark thoughts sometimes about her little habits, but I never gave up on her. She would have had a good home for a long time, if only.

I thought she didn't even know her name. I think the only indication I ever had otherwise was when she was sick and took to hiding, and I roamed around calling for her. She finally meowed to me from the wardrobe I have in the dining room. Up on the shelf above is where her ashes are now, along with Max's, Jenny's, and some of my friend Jody's.

Max got to live out his last few weeks at home. He was probably in pain a lot of the time, but not so much that he showed it, or it really kept him from enjoying his life, such as it was. Twinkle, on the other hand, spent most of her last two weeks in a hospital, away from home, feeling abandoned again, I'm sure, except for my visits. She was sick, she had no energy or strength, no appetite, she was full of tubes and was constantly being injected or having blood drawn or infused. She went through hell; that poor little thing went through hell. And for nothing, as it turned out. But we sure tried for her. And she endured it.

Max died looking calmly into my eyes as his consciousness softly pinched off. Twinkle died thrashing and fighting for breath in a litter box, with me beside her, and there was nothing, nothing, nothing I could do for her. That little thing never, ever got a break in life. She had a few arguably good months among strangers, human and feline, that she eventually got to know and (I hope) trust, before everything was taken away from her in nausea, fear, loneliness, and torment. And that's going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

And that's the way it is.


jim said...

There's no accounting for how these things affect us. My dog Sugar, who passed in 2008, was the best dog I ever had, and not by a little bit. I was sad for a week or so after her passing but that was about it. Gracie has had huge emotional issues and has been a general pain in my behind as a result. Around the house, she's clingy and needy and I just wish she'd leave me the heck alone. But I've bonded to her in a way that tells me that when she goes, I'm going to have to take time off work, because I'm going to be a basket case.

barefoot hiker said...

I feel like I'm going to have something vital torn out of me when Bonnie dies. She's 14 now, and it's really starting to torment me. How in the world to people face this with spouses?