08 October 2007

Goodbye, Trouble

My cat died this weekend. She's been on the downside for a few months now - not eating, sleeping on the shower floor, using the house as her litter box on occasion - so it wasn't completely unexpected. It was completely heartrending, though.

We're in the middle of what feel like massive renovations on the house. In reality, we just put in a new patio door and are replacing the floors through most of the house, but to get to that point we've had to move much of our furniture out to the garage, rip up baseboards and door casings, and paint several rooms. We're going to remodel the guest bath as soon as the floor is complete, so that's undergoing demo right now as well. Then, we'll be out of the house for two weeks while the floor is installed.

All the above turmoil and displacement would have been too much for Trouble, so she got moved to my in-laws house a few weeks back. The dog, she can suffer through a kennel (especially the one with private room and private patio that we've picked for her) for two weeks and barely notices the mayhem going on right now. The cat, she was much more fragile. Also, after eight years of putting up with an Australian Shepherd who believed she and the cat were fast friends, we thought it might be nice for Trouble to live somewhere very quiet.

And for one week she really seemed to like it. Then we visited her and she wasn't the same again. Ever. I guess she figured she was on vacation and was ready to come home. When we left here there, she must have felt abandoned. She stopped eating, stopped coming out, and finally passed away.

I was sitting in my recliner Sunday morning, catching up on some of this week's comic books, when I heard the wife in the other room play a message on the answering machine. It's around two corners and hard to hear from where I sat, so I don't know if the call came early Sunday morning while we still slept, or Saturday evening while we were out. I do know I heard my mother-in-law's voice, though not the words. I stopped reading and strained to hear. I guess I knew.

I still don't know if Trouble died on Saturday or Sunday. I haven't been able to ask.

We drove over to pick up the cat and her things. There was no reason to add that burden to the in-laws; they already feel responsible for Trouble's death. It won't matter how many times we say no, they'll remain convinced it was their fault. My father-in-law had wrapped the cat in her towel (smells like home) and laid her out in the garage with the rest of her belongings. I opened the towel enough to see one of her ears, but no more. I couldn't bear it. I apologized as I stroked her ear one last time. Told her she's a good cat.

On the ride to the vet, the wife asked if I thought Trouble was in cat heaven. Since I don't believe in god or devil, heaven or hell, she knew the answer. I don't know if my wife ever realized before how much harder it is for me. I have no comfort: no heavenly streams of tuna-flavored water; no dancing fireflies; no pools of milk stocked with Corn Pops; no one to scratch her neck really hard, in that one spot she liked. Her soul, her essence, won't come back in a lamb or lion. She won't prowl the savanna in her sleep anymore. She won't pace the bathroom counter looking for attention while I'm brushing my teeth. She won't.

There is much more I could say, but no more I need to. I loved my cat, despite her short-comings. I wish she'd lived a better life than the one she backed into. She moved far too often, had an unwanted sister far too long, and lost the confidence and pride of her youth far too soon. I wish I'd been with her when she died, for no other reason than to hold her in my lap and stroke her one last time. I hate that she died feeling abandoned and I hate that after eight years of hiding cat, chasing dog I wanted to abandon her to the in-laws.

I killed my cat, as surely as I drained her joy and confidence by keeping her indoors. I killed her by leaving her and I'll never get to tell her I'm sorry.


Beckylooo said...

Man. I'm sorry.

R.A. Porter said...

Thanks, beckyloo.

Jared said...

Hey man, I was out of town over the weekend so just now catching up. Sorry about Trouble, I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. There's nothing else I can say that probably hasn't already been said, but just wanted you to know I'm sorry for your loss.

R.A. Porter said...

Thanks, Jared. :)

Michele / akkasha said...

Please, don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like your in-laws cared for her a great deal. And that it was a good place for her to be.

I am sorry you weren't there when she passed away. I know that has to have been hard on you.

I wish I could say anything to make it feel better. But I also know there is nothing that can be said to comfort you.

As trite as it sounds, the pain will lessen with time. That is all we can hope for when losing a pet that we are so close to. I still miss the cats I have had that are gone.