Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little Story of a Lady and Her Kitty

I got Eleanor in the 1990s, before some of the nieces and nephews were born.
This is me and Henry and Eleanor. They were litter mates. Henry died at age 10, and Eleanor was happy to be an only cat forever after.

She's always been so bright and inquisitive and incredibly attuned to me. When I don't feel well, she sits with me, sometimes ON me and makes me feel better.

In November we learned that she has cancer. That's ok. I was pretty firm in my conviction that we not try to treat it. Cancer in a young cat is sometimes operable. Two years ago, I asked the vet if she would clean Eleanor's teeth. No- she is too old for anesthesia. What would have happened is that we would have done x-rays to find what kind of cancer it was. Then maybe if she was healthier and younger, an excision or surgery to remove it. Sometimes cats get chemo, though it's much more common in dogs.

Not for us though. I thought maybe if we were lucky, we'd get another month. We got 2 1/2.

Since 2009, Eleanor has had prednisone twice a day to deal with her arthritis. It works fabulously, and she is easy to pill. Unless she's feeling frisky. Then she'll sort of cheek it and spit it out when she thinks you're not looking.  She also has a twice daily oral liquid metrocloprimide to help her pass food from her stomach through her duodenum.  In 2013 we added a thyroid medicine twice daily.

She's always been such a sweet kitty. A little mischievous. She sits in my lap when I type or behind me on the chair. At night she sleeps between my feet. The last few weeks, she's taken to climbing up on my pillow and purring at me to wake me up and feed or give her water in the middle of the night. I don't mind. Sometimes she doesn't want anything except to cuddle and her soft purring is comforting, even if her fuzzy face against mine sometimes keeps me awake. This is also how we get up in the morning, pets and cuddles and purring. Caturday means that G gets in on the act and we drink coffee and pet Eleanor as she sits between us, getting tummy rubs and snuggles. This is, I think, a good life for a cat.

Last night she crawled under the covers with me, like she used to when it was cold outside. When we woke up, she wasn't purring.

On Monday, she started to crash. Renal failure causes a disorientation, dehydration, confusion, and when I see it in her, it causes panic in me. Dr. Val, who owns Mt. Stuart Animal Hospital, gave me a bag of saline to administer to her once a day subcutaneously. Don't freak out; I've done this before. I used to work for a vet, I lived on a farm for a long time, and I'm resolute in giving my little kitty the best care ever. I cried every time I had to poke her with that large gauge needle.

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, I came home and she was up and around and wanting to go outside in the sunshine. So yes, of course, we did.

We spent about an hour out there, enjoying the sunshine and unbelievably mild February weather. Both times she was exhausted and fell right to sleep on her heating pad.

Last night, I sat on the couch between Eleanor on her heating pad and G, and watched tv. I petted her for a long time and told her the story of her life. I told her about the Nevada SPCA and how we would never have declawed her anyway. I told her about how she used to love to climb as high as she could. I told her about our 4 cross country moves together, and how she tried to pop Gs head the first night he stayed with us. I told her about all of her friends and people who inquire about her on a regular basis and how sometimes she is referred to as Queen Eleanor. And I told her how much she has meant to me these last 18 years and that even though she's ten days from her 19th birthday, I still won't let her drive the car. And she purred quietly to herself while I scratched under her chin. These are old stories and she hears them all the time.

This morning, I held her and cried and cried. Also nothing new this week. I can't keep forcing her to stay alive when it's just for my emotional benefit. She hasn't been eating for awhile. Not really.

G and I took her to Dr. Val. She asked why El was all wet. My eyes may have leaked all over her.  G brought his iPad with him, of all things. I thought "why check your email at a time like this?", but of course I was wrong. He wanted to play her favorite jazz music, by John Coltrane. Val gave Eleanor a strong sedative and I put her on my shoulder like I always do. That's how we hang out, El on my shoulder hugging me.

After awhile, Val came in and give her the final shot of Beuthanasia. I held her the whole time and G was there, and crying too. She's the only cat he's been able to be around for an extended amount of time, since he's so allergic.  Val gave us a few minutes, and as the door shut, I couldn't hold back the sobbing anymore.

This is how I will always remember her, not for the myriad of pictures below but for this: She was the quiet reassurance that I am loved, needed, and valued. The physical comforting presence when I was sad and my little friend to talk to about nothing at all. She never wanted me to leave her alone. She was loved by people who met her, even if she didn't always enjoy strangers.

Pretty sure this is a C paper.

No Papparazzo!

"Grading time is over toots. Time for pets"

Best Pals

The house is too quiet today.

I took the day off, and G went back to work. I'll spend some time cleaning house, since she couldn't control her bladder at the end. And I suspect I will catch myself expecting to see her walk into a room, asking for pets or just wanting to be nearby.

This, then, is the price of loving a pet. As awful as it is to lose her, I would pay twice the emotional toll and be glad just to have had the privilege of knowing such a sweet soul.

We donated a bunch of food to the Kittitas Valley Friends of Animals, and will probably continue to make donations. Perhaps helping other rescue animals will ease the pain of losing mine. I got her when I was so young- hardly an adult- and we grew up together.

She really did rescue me and I couldn't be more grateful.

Good bye, dear friend.


  1. We love you and are sad because you are sad.

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  3. "This is the price of loving a pet." So sad and true about love. I knew what was coming as I read this post, but I had to keep reading. I am so sorry. I know what it is like to have to put down a beloved pet. Beautiful photos.


  4. So hard to loose our fur babies