*HANKIE WARNING* – this post contains talk of sick pets and coming to terms with the possibility of death. Move along if this is not on your mental lunch tray today. Now then…
There are lots of different kinds of special days in life. Some good, some bad. There’s moving day, which is self-explanatory. There’s Boxing Day, which is very popular in the UK and is a day to shop practical house stuff sales and box it all up to be used throughout the year. Not a day to celebrate the sport of boxing, as I believed as a child. There’s a funeral day, probably the saddest day of all. Funeral days are often preceded by worrying days. Today is a worrying day at our house.
One of our beloved cats, Yin-Yang, is quite ill. Actually, two of them are quite ill, being 15 and 16 years old, but one is doing much poorly than the other, and his health went south much more quickly than his mama’s. He’s currently curled up on a soft pillow doped up on kitty morphine so he can at least get some rest, though I don’t think he’s getting much of that given his terrible nausea. He hasn’t eaten in at least a day, maybe two. He has at least gone to the litter box a couple of times, which is good considering there’s a high probability he has kidney disease, just like his mama. If his kidneys shut down, that’s pretty much the end of this discussion.
So today is also kind of limbo day. I should find out what his blood tests say in a few hours, which will tell us where to go from where we are now. I just know I don’t have to be a vet to know that not eating or drinking aren’t good things. I also know that while my love for my cat may be infinite, my bank account is not, and I very well may have to forego treatments that I simply cannot afford. Then again, this is a 15-year-old cat we’re talking about here. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 8 years; an indoor cat, 12 years. For an indoor-outdoor cat to live to this age is quite remarkable, and I should not feel in even the slightest way that his life will be diminished if it turns out that it’s his time to journey to the Great Catnip Field in the Sky. Particularly given how well I take care of my cats. They really are treated like little furry gods.
The Bastet and Hekate altars are ablaze today with devotional candles, as is the small altar by the computer. I’ll probably light up the rest of them as well. We need all the positive energy we can get today.
Today is also a confusing day. I’m experiencing the feline health equivalent of a neighborhood that has had a tornado pass through, decimating some houses while leaving others with little or no damage. Yin-Yang’s mother has had kidney disease for about two years now and was in ill health for quite some time, over a year, before I realized it was something more than just old age and took her to the vet to find out what was wrong. Yin-Yang has been ill for perhaps two months, that I had noticed anyway. A year and a half ago, he weighed 17 pounds, and he wasn’t fat: he was just big. He’s always been a big cat. Yesterday, he weighed just under 12 pounds. It broke my heart to see him so frail.
There are lots of tears today, too. I’m mentally preparing myself for the possibility of having to say goodbye to my favorite cat. I know love isn’t supposed to show favoritism, and in one way it isn’t, since I certainly don’t love the other two cats any less. But Yin-Yang is special, and anyone who has ever spent time around him knows exactly what I mean. The knowledge that my cats are nearing or are at the end of their lives has grown steadily over the last three or four years, and I have imagined what it might be like when that sad time came. Now that that possibility has arrived, I find myself decidedly unprepared for the depth of my feelings.
It’s ironic: just a month or two ago, I was having the same worries about Yin-Yang’s mother, who is “too mean to die”, as the saying goes (she’s not that mean, but she is tenacious). I never expected that I would be worrying about a completely different cat not very much later.
I’m not digging the cat’s grave just yet. When I hear his test results, it may very well be something that is easily fixed, but which looks terrible to the outside observer. In which case we will all rejoice and shower him with catnip, toy mice, and scratchings until he stalks away in annoyance. However, I feel it would be foolish to ignore the very real possibility that I may soon be without a presence that has brought me a great deal of comfort and joy since Valentine’s Day, 1997. If that turns out to be the case, we will be sure to send him out of this world with as much love as he was brought into it with.
Need cheering up? I sure as fuck do. Here are some pictures of my adorable cats:
This is where the angel poked him to make him extra large (vaccination scar, really).
The whole family, from left to right: Yin-Yang aka Big Kitty, Babalon aka Mama Cat, and Samadhi aka “The Whiny One”
My beautiful Mama Cat. She is undoubtedly the most beautiful cat I have ever owned.
Yin-Yang face down in one of his favorite places: the shoes.
If lighting candles for people is one of those things you do, please light one for us today.