Another Loss this Year

23 Dec

I’ve been visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in Phoenix for the past week. I knew shortly before arriving that Angel Kitty was in very poor health; Francis had mentioned her kidneys. She was a very small and mostly white kitty with some grey and orange. She was the runt of the litter and was born with only three and a half legs.

When we were driving to his place from the airport, he said, “I need to check if Angel Kitty is still alive when we get home.” She was, but she was moving very slowly, practically dragging her back legs. Actually, after I took my luggage into Malcolm’s room, I noticed a cat bed in the corner by the closet, and Angel’s head was sticking out of it. I seem to recall that she was as shy as Tony on my previous visits, so I was surprised to discover that I could reach down and pet her, and she remained calm and stayed where she was. She even blinked slowly. I knew she was sick and figured this was a sign of that—if she were well, she would have run away from me and hid under the bed.

I took a couple pictures of her in the cat bed (or cat shack, perhaps, since this has a lid). Later I saw how slowly she moved around. Early on my visit, perhaps the first day, I followed her into Francis’s room, where she met up with Tony—a much larger white and grey cat with a grey triangle on his nose—and the two of them slipped under the futon bed. I took a couple of pictures of them together down there. It was clear that they got along well together.

Throughout my visit, Angel Kitty continued to use the cat bed in the room in which I slept. She also would park herself just outside the entrance to the master suite (bedroom, hallway-like space with closets and a sink, and the bathroom), sometimes waiting there for Francis. Or she would park herself in much the same manner outside other doors or near the kitchen. It was clear she was having trouble moving around. Francis would scoop her up and hold her periodically. He shared his bed with both cats, such as when he was napping.

She was very quiet. I don’t think I ever heard her meow during this visit. She has always come across as a sweet and gentle little cat.

Yesterday evening, while we were all in the car and hadn’t made it to the restaurant (an eclectic Asian place called Pei Wei), Francis’s smartphone rang at an intersection. It was the vet. Angel Kitty was believed to have cancer in her kidneys. The vet said that if she were his cat, it would be time to say goodbye.

Last night, or in the very early morning, I woke up and noticed that she was lying asleep about half a foot away from the cat bed rather than in it. That indicated to me that she was having even more trouble moving around. She hadn’t made it to the cat bed. I petted her and checked to see that she was still breathing, and she was. She moved her head to look and me and slowly blinked, which convinced me that she was conforted by my touch.

When I got up in the morning a few hours later, she had moved a little bit. She lay on the floor just between the foot of the bed and the wall. I made sure she was still breathing, and I stroked her flanks. Between the phone call from the vet and Angel’s behavior, I really didn’t think she had long to live. I hoped she would stay alive until after Xmas, but I was worried because of her inability or lack of energy to climb into the cat bed. After Francis woke, I told him about where she had been sleeping, and he said it was because she wasn’t feeling well.

He scooped her up and carried her to the living room and held her in his arms, wrapped in a towel. After I took a brief nap and woke at about noon, I went out to the living room. He was watching a DVD of Warner Brothers cartoons while holding Angel Kitty to his chest.

He checked for a pulse and said, “I can’t feel her heartbeat.” He shifted her around, and she didn’t seem to be moving on her own. Her eyes were half open. I reached over and attempted to feel for the rising and falling of her breath, as I had previously. The tip of her tail seemed to move under her own power. We both were looking at her and touching her. He thought she was already gone, but I was stubborn. I suggested setting her on the floor to see if she would move.

He gently lay her down with the towel between her and the floor. She didn’t move. He knew it was the end and began crying, and so did I even though I wasn’t that close to her. I checked her flank and could have sworn she was still breathing, but barely. I said as much and added, “I think this is her last few minutes.” He picked her up again and held her.

After Francis took a shower (he said she emptied her bladder on him when she died), he came back to the living room and held her body again, wrapped in the towel. He called Lynn, because, as he put it, “She was just as much Lynn’s cat as mine.” She quickly came over and also held Angel Kitty.

It wasn’t long before we were at the vet, where they held her for the last time and made arrangements to have her cremated. Her ashes will be in a special box with a metal plaque that has her name and an imprint of her paw.

Lynn and I both did some OCD origami, and she taught me how to make origami boxes. As we left the vet, I placed a paper crane on a side table.

Straight from there we went to a colorful and sparkly Thai restaurant, where I paid for everyone’s lunch. I also indulged not only in pumpkin curry but also in Thai iced tea and salad rolls. I also took some décor-related photos, and Lynn and I made some more origami. We managed to talk about things other than Angel Kitty.

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