Eggnog, unbelievably, is still clinging to life. She is very thin and frail, yet still greets us each time we go down to the basement. She stretches up to be stroked--ever so gently, gives a little chirping mew and settles back down. I sit beside her, feeling her faint purring beneath her now ragged fur.
As you can see, Teasel has appointed herself Eggnog's companion. The contrast between my emaciated oldster and her very plump 'nanny' is evident.
When I decided to allow Eggnog to 'die at home' rather than cutting her time short with a trip to the vet, I couldn't imagine that 8 days would pass in this process.
There were two episodes when I felt that she was stressed: that first spell of vomiting and another shaky session 24 hours later. Since then there has been nothing but the slow and quiet diminishing.
Her eyes are clear, there is no indication that she is in pain or distress.
She is clean, not smelly.
I've had my moments of stress, questioning my decision.
In addition to sadness at the looming loss of a pet who has spent her 16 years of life with us, there was concern that I hadn't been right in my choice.
This is not the course I would take with a very ill cat or one who was in pain.
In the many years of sharing my home with cats I've many times made that final visit for the vet's merciful needle to be administered.
On Tuesday evening I worked in my flower gardens till darkness was falling.
As I snipped faded flower stalks and carried them to the trash heap, the boy cats skittered around me. Birds were settling for the night, their voices mere sleepy chirps.
In the pasture across the fence a neighbor's cows munched.
As dusk deepened the cicadas began their scraping tune.
Inside I scrubbed my earth-stained hands, picked up a book, went downstairs.
I shook out Eggnog's bedding, holding her bony body for a moment before putting her down. I brushed her fur very lightly. I found a stool and pulled it close to her bed, settled myself with the book.
Eggnog laid a gentle paw against my thigh, moved closer.
Teasel hopped onto the bin and wrapped her furry self around her friend.
Often I closed my book, reached to stroke, murmur endearments.
It was nearly midnight when I left them, still curled together.
The peace which had stolen over me while working in the twilight had deepened as I kept my vigil with the two cats--the one so fragile, the other so attentive.
It was in some odd sense, my real 'goodbye' to Eggnog.
I don't know how many hours or days she has left--it can hardly be many.
Her persistent spark of life has amazed me.
I think I can see this through.
Having this many cats is ridiculous--unreasonable.
Jim's elderly Raisin on the far right--the three 'moggies' who appeared two years ago this month--the two Siamese-y rescue cats from the Indian Reservation in Wyoming.
I won the ebay bidding for the vintage white bedspread last week--how long will it stay white with the bed being appropriated for cat naps?
Bobby trolling the meadow as evening gathers.
"Could I interest you in a mouse?"
Nellie and Bobby--never far away when I am gardening.
Willis trails along as I gather up my tools and return them to the shed.
The evening song of coyotes rings from a ridge to the west, is answered by an echo far across the creek.
The hummingbirds make a bedtime dash to the feeder.
Willis sits on his observation rock, head snapping from side to side, making sure that no coyote could stroll into the dooryard unseen.
[They usually keep their distance, but one must be alert!]
Cats make messes. They dig in the garden, leave hair and muddy pawprints on my bedspread.
They hawk up hairballs.
My heart is sore when it is time for them to pass on.
I can't imagine my life without their company.