Thursday, September 14, 2006

Missing Missy

Missy died last night. And I never even took her picture.

When I first saw Missy, I thought she was a half-starved, three-month-old kitten. She came shooting out from under the back porch the first time we made it into Old Metairie after Katrina to check on my mother’s house. After that, we’d go over to my mother’s house every other evening before we drove back up to Baton Rouge and put out huge bowls of dried cat food. We were feeding not only Missy, but an entire neighborhood of hungry strays and abandoned pets.

As time passed and we moved into my mother’s house, we came to realize that Missy wasn’t a kitten, but a very tiny and skinny old gray tabby. She gradually learned to trust us, to let us pet her while she was eating, then to pick her up. My girls wanted to adopt her and bring her in, but it seemed impossible: we already had five indoor cats who weren’t getting along well in the confines of my mother’s small house, plus my mother’s own indoor/outdoor male cat was becoming increasingly resentful of the furry houseguests we’d brought with us.

But as the time for us to move back into our own house grew near, my mother started making noises. She was going to miss having our cats around all the time, she said. It was raining hard that night, and when Missy came to the door, crying to come in, my girls said, “Why don’t you adopt Missy?” My mother leapt at it. And so we stuck Missy in a carrier and hauled her off to the vet to be checked out.

She didn’t have any infectious diseases, although she did have an overactive thyroid, a gum and bladder infection, and a shortage of teeth. She was also virtually deaf and blind. We brought her home (along with a bag full of medications), and she made my mother’s bedroom and bathroom her own. She curled up on the bed, purred her little head off, and never showed the least interest in going out again.

My mother couldn’t medicate her, so once we moved back into our own house, we’d drive over to my mother’s every night to stick pills down Missy’s throat. The infections cleared up, she started putting on weight, and we thought everything was going to be fine. We eventually discovered she’d actually been hanging around the neighborhood for years. Now, finally, she had a home again.

But all those years on the streets had taken their toll. Last night, Missy collapsed. My mother called us and we rushed over to find Missy breathing hard, unable to move. I picked her up and held her on my lap, and petted her and told her how very much she was loved. She died in my arms. My mother is devastated.

It seems so tragic, that Missy lived all those years without a home only to die just six weeks after finally getting what she’d wanted so desperately. But at least she died happy and warm and loved. And now, she’s missed.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sorry to hear of Missy's death. The loss of pets can leave such a void. Though I sometimes despair of human beings, the ability of many humans to love and care for animals is one of our best traits. Good wishes to your family.

Sphinx Ink said...

Your entry touched me so much. I'm so glad that poor Missy's final days were in the company of those who loved her, and in the comfort of a home of her own. Bless your mother, and you and Steve and the girls, for caring.

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