Yesterday my cat of 17 years had a stroke, and we had to have her euthanized.
Scooter was a quiet kitty for most of her life. Having been orphaned as a kitten and bottle-fed by human attendants, she was quite content to lay back in your arms and let you rub her belly. She would reach out and, with great deftness, pull your hand to her head without using her claws. She would hide from strangers, and isolate herself when we were out of town for a few days. Sometimes I would have to go find her, and extricate her from her hideaway – she seemed despondent when people weren’t around.
So we were. We were around, and I even considered taking her to London with me
when I had that assignment for work. In the end, I left her here with friends for a year or so. She adapted, albeit through seclusion, to her changed life, and we were glad to be reunited with her upon our return.
Scooter, in her last weeks, became demanding – meowing loudly every morning for attention and treats, and had taken to climbing up into our bed at night and sleeping by my face, despite the presence of the poodle at our feet. She even, willingly, ventured outdoors for the first time in her life last week – 17 years of contentedness indoors with never an attempted escape. She seemed, in retrospect, to have her own bucket list.
In the end, our beautiful rescued kitty expired after suffering a stroke yesterday. She
was reduced to limping with one leg completely compromised, and unable to eat, and, I think, having significant pain. The doctor made sure it was swift. We cried.
I’m adding some photos here from the last couple of years. And, reflecting on this quite natural and devastating event, I was reminded of a poem I wrote years ago for a different kitten we had rescued. One we named ‘Banjo’.
I hope you enjoy, even if it brings a tear or two.
The bottom of the ninth
Paused with paws outstretched
The nape pulled back in a nursing grip
Teeth and gums in unwilling expression
Of the end of it all
I look into Banjo’s one-year-old eyes
Deep orange, dark iris and staring forward
And pray for the light to come to him
His now strained body tensing
For what, who knows but a cat
Soon will, cashing in his cache
Of lives, I, the sudden minister of lives
Signing the deed
And Banjo, our poor Banjo,
Whose heart and swollen throat
Strummed still in his last moments
Wasted swiftly by disease
More swiftly still he soared
As new fluids rushed to quell
The pain, the fear, the life
Right out of him.
His once tense slender feline
Frame relaxing to an ever distant
Beat slowing quickly to the
Rhythm of dreams and
Heaven knows how high he
Jumps now, from what stylish
Crouch he bounds to what
Arching tree he climbs
He was a fine cat.
Steve Mahaley, 1999