Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Cat Named Angel


Angel is my mom's old cat. He was born feral under a neighbor's porch and when he was about a year old, my mother enticed him inside with freshly cooked chicken livers. He became the companion of her twilight years, "helping" her garden, and sitting on her lap while she read or worked her crossword puzzles, and stretching out on the bed beside her for a daily afternoon nap.

My mother let my girls name him, and because this was the late nineties and he had a buff colored litter mate (who was not as interested in food and therefore stayed feral), my girls named him Angel after the vampire in Buffy.


When my mom evacuated to my sister's house in California after Katrina, Angel went with her. And when my mother moved in with us six years ago, Angel came, too (much to Huckleberry's disgust). He adjusted amazingly well to becoming an indoor cat. And the night my mother went in the hospital, he crawled into bed with me and has slept with me ever since.


As he once "helped" my mother garden, Angel now "helps" me produce my books. He sleeps on my chapters. He sprawls half on my lap and half on my computer table when I'm trying to type. He lays on my right arm or bats at my hand wanting pets while I'm trying to write with a pen. He's fifteen years old, grumpy and opinionated and intensely affectionate, and I love him dearly. And yesterday I learned that he is in stage three renal failure.

Two of my other cats, seventeen-year-old Baby, who lives with my older daughter in San Antonio, and fifteen-year-old Thomasina, who now spends most of her time up in Baton Rouge with my younger daughter, are also seriously ill at the moment with unrelated problems. It is a human tendency to try to create order in a chaotic universe, to seek a reason for heartache. But there is no reason for all these sick cats; it simply is. And words fail me.

31 comments:

patti said...

Having lost my own cat after 18 years
my heart hurts for you

Anonymous said...

c- I am so sorry for another sad and painful time. when I was a kid my Siamese would sit on my desk and lay across my school books - swat my pencil across the room when she couldn't stand watching it move anymore and sleep around my neck like stole or on my chest. she was 17 when she died (me 24) and I still get weepy when I think of that day. Its not very comforting but I truly feel your pain and hope you can find comfort in great memories. but there really are no words...ali

JustWingingIt said...

So sorry to hear about your furry family members. Knowing that another goodbye may be coming is a difficult thing to bear. When you think about though, everytime a pet comes into our lives (or people too for that matter) we know on some level that the day to say goodbye will come. The only way to avoid it is to not let them into our lives and hearts in the first place...but that would mean missing out on all the quirky personalities, the funny antics, and the love. And love makes everything bearable. It sounds as though your cats have loved well and been loved in return.

Anonymous said...

Oh no. I'm sorry never seems to adequately express the feelings of sadness, loss, and heartache on losing a loved one, and, yes, pets are certainly those. In time it will get better and you'll be able to smile at all the fun memories you have and share those memories again and again with family and friends. JustWingingIt said it so well - the loss is well worth the experience and love and you wouldn't trade it for the world. Take care!!! Sabena

cs harris said...

Pati, I'm so sorry to hear about your old cat. It's always a heartbreaker.

Ali, thank you. And I still grieve for the orange tabby that was my companion from childhood into adulthood. Those cats are always special..one reason I'm almost as concerned about my younger daughter as I am about her cat, Thomasina.

JustWingingIt, I'm still at the stage where I still burst into tears almost every time I look at him; I have to find a way to move past that. And you're right, anytime we love a being whose life is shorter than ours, we know we're letting ourselves in for heartache.

Sabena, thank you. We lost two much younger cats to kidney failure in 2009. The first we tried desperately to treat and later regretted it; when the second was diagnosed just five months later, we said our goodbyes and helped him go without pain, and never regretted it. So at least we know what we're going to do once Angel's quality of life deteriorates too far. But since this is a cat who has always lived to eat (my mother continued to fix him special meals, and we have done the same), I can't imagine how he is going to adjust to the recommended bland diet.

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Oh, no. I recognize so many of those feline behaviors. Again, you have only my prayers and well-wishes. Our beloved, gorgeous tabby Mardi succumbed to renal failure over two years ago and we still miss him, mention him daily. It's amazing, the depth these animals bring to our lives, isn't it? Take care.

Anonymous said...

Irving Townsend wrote: "We, who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality , never fully understanding the necessary plan."
I have never understood, and I have had to say goodbye to so many of our little furry friends; and in fact we are dealing with the fatal illness now of our 13 year old border terrier.
But I do undertand the pain and sadness you are going through, and send wishes for love and comfort to your loving heart.
Diane

Jessica said...

One is painful enough, three is just...there are no words. For all the joy and love they bring us (and we bring them), this part just sucks.

Sending good thoughts to you and your family and pets and sunshine to the kitties.

paz said...

I hope that the knowledge that so many readers wish to support you as you go through these sad journeys offers some respite. We are all thinking of you.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oh, I'm very sorry. Cats have such characters.

cs harris said...

Barbara, thank you. So sorry to hear about your loss.

Diane, what a lovely quote, and so true. Thank you so much.

Jessica, yes, it is emotional overload, even without my continuing worries about Huck. It's hard not to be in a dark place.

Paz, it is very touching. Thank you.

Charles, thank you. I suspect Angel's link to my mom is making this even harder.

Rachel Walsh said...

Oh, Candy, that's just so sad, so unfair. I hope you can take some small solace in the fact the lives your cats live must be truly happy and wonderful given the grand old ages most of them achieve.

My thoughts are with you and your loved ones, both human and feline.

LOgalinOR said...

There are no words to adequately describe your pain and sorrow......so very sorry. All your fans and readers alike, also feel your distress and heartache. We lost 'grandma' (13 year old lab with seizures) this past July. What softened the blow was our other '8 year old puppy' yellow lab. I think we both comforted each other, and I am so very grateful to have her. May all your other cats and kitties give you some comfort, and help fill that void with their unique personalities and quirks. BTW, how many cats and kitties are part of your current household? PS-a quote from Shakespeare "When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!"

RevMelinda said...

I am so sorry to hear about your magnificent and aged cats, Candy. The cycle of life sometimes seems relentlessly unfair. Do you read poet Mary Oliver? I love her poem "In Blackwater Woods," which ends this way:

"To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."

Keeping you and your feline family members in my thoughts.

lmhess said...

I'm pretty sure that you would have a second career running a cat orphanage - you seem to have the softest heart in the world for kitties. Often, they live for much longer than a dog and we become so attached. A cat I had years ago was almost 18 when she died - from the same thing as Angel. They make such lovely friends it's difficult to let them go. On a happier note, I hope Huck is improving. And you, too. As JustWingingIt said, our lives would be so much poorer without our little friends, even though we know their lives are finite. (As I write this, my baby parkeet is happily munching on my collar - would you like her??)

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your latest cat problem. We have a situation. We found out our 12 year old cat is in stage 3 kidney failure when they took a blood test to check him before dental work. We were shocked with the outcome, and distraught. But, we are following Dr.'s orders by giving him special kidney food, and leaving cups of water around the house. Good luck to you and yours in the effort to keep the cat healthy and happy.

cs harris said...

Rachel, thank you.

LOGalinOR, thank you. So sorry to hear about your old lab. And as for our cats, this is embarrassing: roaming the house we have Huck, Angel, and Thomasina. Nora, a fifteen-year-old tuxedo cat with "elimination issues," spends most of her time on the screened in gallery (with it's own climate controlled little house) along with 4-yr-old Whiskies, who was born to a pregnant stray my daughter rescued and is too retarded to grasp the finer points of litter box usage. I am also currently caring for two of my older daughter's other cats while she is in San Antonio (Whiskies's marmalade litter mates, Rosco and Peanut) but she is SUPPOSED to take them back after Christmas. Because Huck hates intruders, they live in the two back bedrooms. And now we also have the two CH kittens, who are currently in a crate isolated in a climate-controlled garage because they are still contagious with hookworm (and because the house is full). Once the two marmalades go, we will be able to move them into the house, although I'm afraid they'll always have to live in a big crate given their problems. But six o'clock feedings will be easier in the winter if they're inside!

RevMelinda, that is a beautiful poem, and definitely addressed the kind of calm and acceptance I need to work to achieve.

Imhess, so sorry to hear about your old cat. I read the other day that all mammals have their weaknesses, and whereas in humans it's the heart, in cats it's the kidneys. And yes, Huck is improving every day, although now I'm frantic with worry about what all these meds have done to his kidneys. (I have a problem with worry.)

Anon, I'm so sorry you're going through this, too. Wishing your kitty a long life to come. Angel is in the vet today getting his teeth worked on! Then we will start the special diet--although how this is going to work when I'm supposed to be fattening Huck up, I don't know. Plus Angel has always been a cat who lives to eat.

Courtney said...

So, so sorry, Candy. There are no words.

Le Fleur said...

Aww, that's so sad. I'm sorry :( Angel sounds like a very special cat and so affectionate! I'm not much of a cat person (I might be banned from commenting on your blog from now on! :D), but he sounds like a cat I could love.

cs harris said...

Courtney, thank you.

Le Fleur, he is definitely an original!

Karen Anne said...

I'm so sorry about your kitties.

Has your vet suggested giving the kitty with kidney disease Ringers fluids? It's done once or twice a day. It's easy to inject (don't need to find a blood vessel), the vet or vet tech can show you how. It acts kind of like dialysis, but it only takes about ten minutes or so. The vet can provide the Ringer's bags and tubing and needles.

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