Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharing My Cats

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.


  1. Sad but lovely post, thankyou.


  2. I can remember only too well, watching a beloved pet fade and my heart goes out to you as you wait xx

  3. I understand where you are with Eggnog. I've been there many times. Right now our Lily is fading, too and while she still enjoys her meals and jumps up on the couch to cuddle, visits our deck to lie in the sun, we will enjoy what time she has left. She is 18 now with pancreatitis so who knows. It's only 7 months since we lost our beloved Ed. Their lives are too short. Sending you a hug and hope today is a good day for Eggnog. Deb

  4. I think having many cats is a good idea, they'll comfort you when Eggnog is gone. We only have one (and our daughter's cat who, even after 3 months with us has not bonded) and if something happened to her we would be devastated.

  5. sending hugs sharon, I know you know i understand. xx

    Leanne x

  6. Your compassion touches me. Eggnog's last days are made more precious by it....

  7. I'm glad that Teasel is there to keep Eggnog company when you have to head to bed. I expect that will make you feel a bit better too. However long she has left, she knows she is much loved.

    I think having so many other cats (like us), the passing of one, especially one who has been with you for so long, whilst difficult, is ameliorated by having the others by you, and giving solace. I had to smile at the bed full of cats! We usually have just the two brothers on our bed at one time, sometimes with old Lucy on my pillow, but they are a discordant bunch and there is a definite pecking order!

    (((HUGS))) to you anyway. I'm sure they won't go amiss.

  8. I'm sure Eggnogg is as comfortable as she can be with Teasel and you there for her.

  9. What a blessing that Teasel is on sentinel duty, and you have the comfort of knowing Eggnog has a companion when you need to sleep or get things done. One of my young ones has just had an op, and isn't out of the woods yet, but is home and happy to be home. Like you, I have always had cats, they are my solace and my delight, they add great joy and fullness to my life. Hugs from me too xx

  10. Hello, Sharon - I am so sorry that we are 'meeting' for the first time under such circumstances. My heart is heavy for you. I, too, had a Siamese mix that also died at home. My daughter found her as a kitten and she instantly bonded to me. I had my dear 'Delia' for 18 years and she died peacefully at home. Like you, I have made the decision to call the vet for other pets in pain, but my dear Delia just quietly slipped away. She is buried along the woodland path that she loved to follow and I keep her photo in my bedroom where I can see it every day. I have had many pets, but she was extra special to me. She looked so much like your darling little Eggnog. Your writing is lovely and I am so glad that we have 'met', but sad for the circumstance. You are a dear for allowing her final days to be full of peace and love. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Vermont. I guess we will always be 'New Englander's' no matter where we end up. Wishing you blessings at this sad time. xo Karen