Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

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Abby's gone.  No other way to say it really. The constant companion for my wife and I for the last sixteen years is no longer with us. The cat who would be human, (not to insult her in any way), had to be euthanized. We will miss her every day.

She was the second kitten we brought into the family, only a week after finding Emmy, by accident, at a church fair in Vermont.  Emmy turned out to be a little ankle biter and we quickly decided she needed a playmate. We were getting tired of pulling Emmy off our legs first thing every morning.  My wife found Emmy and it was my turn to look in the animal shelters for a companion kitten.

There was really only one choice as I walked into the holding area at the shelter, with the barking dogs and older cats trying to ignore their situation. Mind you, I could have taken them all home with me then and there, but, living in a small apartment in Boston, that wouldn't be practical. And then there was Abigail.

She and her brother shared a cage together. She was a ball of grey fluff, and as I walked toward her cage, she stuck her paw out and tried to grab me towards her. I could almost hear her saying "Pick me!  Pick me!" Of course I did. No choice really.

As she grew into an adult cat, Abby and my wife created a bond I never thought possible. Abby worshipped at the feet of her goddess, Donna. There really was nothing in the universe for Abby; life was waiting for her goddess to appear. Then all was right with the world. Oh, I was ok, and could be a good substitute, but I was a mere priest to the cult of Donna, who could sustain her until her goddess appeared.

Another amazing thing was her gaze. While you were petting her, she would stare directly into your eyes. Break that gaze to do something else, and you would feel a gentle pat of a soft grey paw on the arm or shoulder, reminding you to make contact again. A new book on living with cats states you should never make eye contact with your cats, that they don't enjoy it and feel threatened by it.  Nonsense.  Don't believe it. All our cats look you straight in the eyes, and for Abby, it was a form of non-verbal communication. For her, it was a necessary as that taste of milk every morning.

Abigail was the only vegetarian cat I've ever known.  She would walk away in disgust from the plate of canned cat food we might give the other cats as a treat. Tuna fish? Horrible. Cooked Turkey? Blech!  We never had the heart to tell her the dry cat food she ate contained meat products. No, her favorite treats were milk, cereal at the bottom of the bowl (with milk of course), and oatmeal cookies with raisins.

Let me just say, as a public service announcement, that raisins are not good for cats. Pre-internet, we didn't know this when Abby was a kitten.  While I was eating some raisins one day, Abby decided the scent was too much to resist and tried to poke her face in the box. Not knowing better, I gave her one.  She scarfed it down and asked for more.  I gave her a few, but it just didn't seem right so we stopped giving her any more. We were lucky she showed no ill-affects from it. But it became her obsession the rest of her life to sniff out raisins.

Over the holidays just past, while Abby grew sicker from a combination of inflamed bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma, I baked cookies to give away.  One batch attracted her -- Oatmeal cookies. She found a cookie I was nibbling on and she tried to nibble too.  So I broke her off a few tiny pieces (without raisins, of course) and she ate them down and looked for more.  This at a time when she had slowly stopped eating. Those few crumbs got her excited about food for the first time in weeks.  And I will say she must have found one last stray raisin on the coffee table, which went suddenly missing.

So, there will be no more gentle pats for attention, no more snuggles in my arms while falling asleep at night (positioned so she could see her goddess at all times), no more long gazes while in my lap (while her goddess was out of the room), no more furry toys carried with mewling noises and dropped at our feet -- apparently because she thought we just couldn't feed ourselves properly.

No more trips to the vets for her (no more vet techs sent to the hospital for stitches), no more struggling to find the best position to sleep (when she could sleep), no more pain killers, no more fluid injections, no more struggling attempts to spoon feed her high-fat canned pet food to keep her weight up when she stopped eating. Just no more.

We lost our best friend, in this human/cat herd we call home.  There's an empty spot now, as we pick up and put away her favorite cat toys. Life goes on.  The other cats keep reminding us of that.





Special thanks to the staff of Falls Road Veterinary Clinic for all their help caring for Abigail.

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This page contains a single entry by JeffAdminist published on July 8, 2009 6:04 PM.

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