Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vigil For A Beloved Cat

Eggnog perched on the footboard of our lodgepole bed in the Lander, WY house.

My dear cat, Eggnog, was 16 years old in April, 1914.
We adopted her in June, 1998, soon after our move to Wyoming.
A female Siamese cat had taken up residence in the tack barn at the home of Jim's niece.
There were two batches of kittens on hand--and we've never been sure if Eggie was born to the Siamese mom-cat or to the black and white cat who lived in the woodpile.
We brought her home, along with "EJ" --her brother, or half-brother, as the case might have been.
[EJ succumbed to a cancerous tumor at age 4.]

Eggnog doesn't have the strident voice which is so noticeable in her sister from the next litter--Jim's spoiled darling, Raisin.
Eggie has always been a cheerful, companionable creature, conversational, a very pleasant little cat.
You can see that her fur is not the silky smooth coat usual to a Siamese.  Rather, she has always been fuzzy.

Eggnog helps to lay out a quilt. 

When Eggnog was about 8 years old, she had to have all her teeth extracted.
Her little mouth healed well and soon she was eating kibble again.
It was perhaps from this time that she became terrified of being put in the cat carrier.
A trip to the vet for routine shots became a nightmare.
No matter how I tried to conceal the cat carrier, she knew why she was being caught. On at least one occasion she peed down my front as I attempted to insert her.
On the road a noxious odor soon announced that in her fright she had once again 
pooped in the carrier.
In the autumn of 2010--our first year in Kentucky, Eggnog presented with a fungus disease which caused lesions over her entire body with hair falling out in patches. 
Treatment included several trips to the vet, bathing with an anti-fungal shampoo, two courses of antibiotics.
You can imagine how gracelessly she endured these frightening indignities, struggling, crying out, becoming afraid of me, avoiding me.
Her recovery was slow, leaving her thinner and with a permanent scabby roughness to her hide.
Slowly she befriended me again, though the mere sight of nail clippers or a tube of hairball paste sents her skittering under the sofa.

Eggnog helping to clean the kitchen in Lander, WY

We've noted the inevitable slowing down of Eggnog  in the past year.  A bit quieter, sleeping for long hours in her favorite spot on the windowsill that faces east.
She no longer came into the bedroom at night to curl on my feet.
Occasionally, for several days running, she seemed to have a 'catch' in her brain, being confused as to the location of the litter box. Each time she revived, reverted to her tidy habits. She continued to 'talk' to us, putting out an imperious white-tipped paw to demand our attention.
She knew at exactly what time each evening Jim should pick up the container of 'kitty treats' and dole out the bedtime snack.  If he was late, she marched across the floor and pleasantly reminded him that it was time. 
In the past 6 weeks she has been less interested in food. Her thick coat has matted, needing to be raked with a fine-toothed pet comb. 
Sometimes, coming in from work at the other house, I've watched her in repose on the windowsill, the rise and fall of her sides so slight with her breathing.
I've worried that when the time comes to move to the other house, it would be a major and confusing adjustment for such an elderly cat.
This morning I found that Eggnog had vomited in several spots on the living room floor--no residue of food, just white puddles of saliva.
She hopped down from the windowsill and repeated this process three more times before going down the basement stairs in wobbly fashion.
She stood by the litter box, straining, but producing only a pea-sized kernel.
I brought her blanket downstairs as she seemed disinclined to return to the living room.
Eggnog finally chose to clamber onto a covered storage bin under the basement stairs.
I folded two old T-shirts to pad the surface.
I go down at least once per hour to touch her, stroke her bony frame, speak her name.
My instinct is to bring her upstairs, make a cozy bed, coax her to eat.
I don't think this is what she wants.
Her breath is stale and her fur is dry--dehydration, no doubt.
I have vowed to spare her a last ride to the vet--a last hour of stress and anxiety.
I so want her passing to be over as peacefully and [dare I say it?] as quickly as possible now that the evil time has come.
I went out in the steamy heat of noontime to dig a buryhole on the west side of the barn--a few feet from where I buried Mrs. Beasley in August, 2012.
Tears blur my eyes and clog my voice when I bend to stroke my little friend.
I, who have never had that frightening privilege of watching at the deathbed of a loved human, have so many times hovered over a cat.
How quickly an animal becomes a part of our lives, their care part of our routines, their company well worth the messes or expenses.
I've been told there is a local vet who, though he is a large animal practitioner, will make a house call to put down a cat or dog for a client. He is the same vet we have had for Pebbles the Horse.
I will explore this option if it becomes clear that it is the kindest one.
Go quickly, Eggnog. 
Tears threaten, even as I type these words.
Still--go peacefully.
Go soon, dear Eggnog.


  1. Oh dear little Eggnog, go quickly and go peacefully, as you wrote. It is heart breaking to say goodbye to such a faithful and pretty friend.

  2. Oh, so sorry to hear about eggnog! It is always hard and we really don't want them to suffer. Some days Scruffy seems to have slowed down and doesn't seem to be eating as much. He is 11 now. But then i think it must be just the hot muggy weather. He is so sweet we will miss him badly when his time comes. Praying that the time will come quickly and peacefully for Eggnog, when he is ready.

  3. I am so sorry (and upset) to read about Eggnog. I hope that she passes before you needed to summon the vet (we always had our dogs put down at home). We have two here aged around 17, and although they are well at present . . .

    Go gently and peacefully Eggnog.

  4. I know exactly how you are feeling. Thinking of you x

  5. This is so sad, our pets are members of our family and to watch them in ill health and near the end is heartbreaking. Hope she goes peacefully and soon.

  6. I am shedding tears as I type this. Many times I have been there, and it is never any easier.
    My heart sends healing blessings to you and a peaceful rest for Eggnog.

  7. My heart goes out to you at this time. May Eggnog's passing be peaceful and swift. She's lived a good life with you two.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  8. Blessings on your and Eggnog.

  9. I hope the wait is not long and the passing is peaceful, - so hard to say goodbye..

  10. Feeling for you... if only our pets had longer lifespans. May her passing be peaceful.

  11. Oh Sharon.. I am an ocean away, the other side of the world, but tears moisten my eyes as i read this, its not so long, only 6 weeks since i held Bilbo aged only 9 as his breath faded away, it brings it all back. I sit here so sad for you, mourning a cat ive never met, as she slips slowly away . Wish i could hold your hand as you say goodbye.

    Leanne x

  12. Oh MM, My heart has gone out to you on this. Our lovely Jess died while sleeping on my chest a couple of months ago. I had chosen to stay with her so she wasn't alone. I feel your pain and also your satisfaction in sharing a wee life that was well lived.

    I send you love 'n stuff.

  13. I'm not sure my previous comment published, but I wanted to say I remember the pain of digging that little burial spot for my farm cat Biscuit. Crying all the while. I'm thinking of you and praying little Eggnog goes peacefully and quickly.