I’m certainly not the first person to lose a cat, nor the last person. Two days ago, I had to say “goodbye” to the only cat I had left from a lifetime of being a cat-owner. Her name was Kitty.
I got Kitty in 2001, right around Thanksgiving. A bunch of my friends got to meet her when they came over to watch WWF Survivor Series. This little 2 pound kitten made a bunch of testosterone-fueled teenage boys turn into big softies.
Shortly thereafter, she and I really didn’t get along. She hid most of the time I was around, she wasn’t cuddly, she’d hiss at me for no reason, …she was kind of annoying, actually.
She’d do that thing cats do where she’d knead my back when I was trying to sleep. She would never actually just lie down and go to sleep herself, she just kept kneading. After a while I started telling her in a calm conversational voice, “you’re hurting me.” It’d be a phrase I’d take into my everyday life with everyone I know.
When Kitty was almost 8 years old, Beeky, the other cat in my household who she knew her entire life, died at the age of 18. It was brutal, I was crushed, but the house I returned to was not empty. I still had Kitty, and Kitty suffered the same loss I did, she was hiding from me and growling loudly any time I passed by. Then everything changed, she suddenly started acting like my cat. She became cuddly and affectionate. I could pick her up and hold her without her immediately claw her way out of my arms. She followed me everywhere I went in the apartment. She was never more than a few steps behind. When I went to sleep she’d curl up next to me, on me, or adjacent to my head on the pillow. The last few months of her life she’d taken to resting her chin on my neck and nuzzling between my jaw and shoulder.
Everyone loved this cat. I know everyone thinks that their cat is the cutest cat in the world, but I had enough visitors, friends and strangers, meet her and concur that even they thought she was the cutest cat in the world, therefore, I know that she was. She was always playful. She was petite and adorable her whole life. She looked and acted like a kitty, and her name fit her perfectly.
In December she was still running around the apartment and playing fetch with her toy mice. I was telling people how happy I was that she still seemed to be such an energetic little Kitty, even though she was already 13. I thought without any signs of decline, it was a sign that she was going to be around for a while. How wrong I was…
Kitty skipped three meals in a row at the end of January. I took her to the vet and we caught what seemed to be an infection. After administering some medication, she seemed like her old self again. I thought I’d caught whatever it was early and nipped it in the bud. A month later, however, her little tummy started to swell. I took her to the vet and they gave me some medication and I was scheduled to bring her in the next week for a sonogram.
Kitty didn’t make it.
I woke up on what would be her last morning and she seemed very listless and weak. I thought I had more time, a regretful mistake on my part. I went to work with a horrible feeling and decided I wasn’t going to wait. I left early and made a vet appointment for that afternoon, but when I got home, it was too late. I made it just in time for her to take her last breaths.
God I miss that cat.
I am having a lot of trouble forgiving myself for leaving her that day. I’m having trouble letting go. I’m rocked every time I come home to an empty house. I always expect her to be in the next room. I always expect to walk into her in the dark and still step slowly just in case she’s there. I swear I still hear the sound of her collar hitting her food dish while she’s eating. I still lie to one side of the bed because I expect her to take up the other.
When I’d go to sleep at night, if she didn’t notice I had gone to the bedroom, I’d yell “where’s my Kitty?!” in a dumb high-pitched voice and over-dramatically pretend to cry. She’d always come running right away. Last night, however, I had the same one-sided conversation, except with complete sincerity.
I’m never going to forget her starting to have trouble jumping up onto or off of the bed, but still struggling to do so just to follow me around the apartment, even if I was only leaving her side for a moment.
I’m finding it difficult to decisively do simple tasks, like vacuum, because I know I’m vacuuming away the hair she left behind. I find her toy mice in various places and it stings a little each time. I look at all her favorite spots with a gleam of hope that she’ll somehow just be there again.
I’ve never been without a pet in my life. This is completely new territory for me, but after only 2 days, I can tell you that I am not a fan. Maybe I’ll get used to it, but right now it’s the worst. My apartment feels empty and cold. I realized that most of the time when I decided I was going to stay home and forgo some event taking place, a big part of my desire to be home was to be with Kitty, now that she’s not there, I don’t have that same urge. It feels like a place where I just keep my stuff and sleep at. I will sometimes sit in the dark and it seems like a few minutes pass, but suddenly three hours have gone by and I’ve just spaced completely out. I barely have an appetite. Any little noise wakes me up. Frankly, I’m not ok.
I know I’ll get through this, it’s just going to take time, but it’s the genesis of this post-Kitty era of my life and it’s going to be rough. I miss this little 5-pound furball so god damn much. I don’t really know what else to say.