Two years ago, my kitty of 16 years died. For reasons I don't even need to go into right now, in addition to all the normal ones, it devastated me. I'm not sure how I got through the following days and weeks. His last few days, when I slept on the floor in the closet with him, and took time off work just to lay in silence on the couch and cuddle him for hours on end, and then when our vet finally came to put him to sleep at my house - a true horror - broke me and broke my heart. I'm not a nutty "animal person," so I would never have thought that would have been the situation, but it was.
|JJ taking a nap in his usual spot|
After JJ died, I couldn't even consider another kitty. I live right by an animal shelter, but couldn't imagine going in. After about a year, I started visiting occasionally to see what kitties needed homes, and I would stand and look at the cute fluffballs behind glass and cry. But I kept doing it because I missed having a little buddy to love and care for, and because I was hoping that my heart could at some point heal enough to adopt one.
Two weeks ago I got a kitty. Susan B. Anthony, or Bonnie, was a tiny, stinky, 10-year old cat that had been picked up by animal control when her owner was admitted to a mental health hospital. She'd been given a clean bill of health by the county and by the very popular and critically-reviewed local shelter, and I visited her a few times before deciding I might be able to open my heart to love a cat again.
The shelter cautioned me that it might take her 2 or 3 days to come out of the guest room (where they suggested I start her), but after 20 minutes, Bonnie was exploring all 3 levels of my house, and an hour later, she was asleep on my lap. She would purr from stress, I could tell, but I figured she was doing alright as I observed her outstretched between my knees for hours as I watched TV. And the first night, when she hopped up on my bed and positioned herself on the pillow next to me and slept there the whole night, I figured she was going to do just fine.
One thing that was so cute from the first day is that she followed me around, right on my heels, every single minute. If I walked to the laundry area, she was there. If I went to the dining table, she was there. If I was by the sink and started to go in the direction of the fridge, even for a step, she would as well. She was a little shadow.
And although I cared for her and was happy to have a little friend around again, I have to admit that for the first few days I'd wondered if I'd made the right choice. All I could think was that I didn't love her like I loved little JJ, and it didn't seem right to have an animal that you only tolerated. That's not really the spirit of caring for someone. Anyway, another few days and there was nothing to worry about. We fell into a lockstep routine like many owners and animals do; Bonnie knew when the shower started she should run and wait on my bed pillow because that is where I would be headed next. I started to feel the warm, quiet gratitude that comes from sharing your space and heart with a pet.
I think you understand where I was at and how hard it was to discover that she wasn't actually healthy at all; she was quite sick. During the first week at my house I felt she wasn't eating enough and was concerned about the odor she had. I decided to take her to my vet for a full check up, the results of which were quite sad.
I think at this point all I want to say is that I took Bonnie back to the shelter for surgery a week ago, and the results of that procedure were even worse. I had to make a choice between bringing her back home to give her a type of hospice care, and letting her stay at the shelter to be put down. I took this past week to finally decide, and I feel like a bit of a monster for it, but I can't care for her. Logistically, the amount of meds and special food would be difficult for just one person. But it's really my heart - I truly don't think I have the capacity to love another animal so close to death and make it through without closing my heart off to a degree that would be quite bad. I kind of can't fucking believe it - on the phone with my sister last night I laughed a bit in the middle of crying. It's the perfect combination of events for the saddest story ever. And more - I had a good friend pass away suddenly a few months ago (I haven't been able to write about that yet), and she told me often after JJ died that I should get another cat. I would tell her I wasn't ready, and then a few weeks later she would tell me she thought I should get a cat. When I got Bonnie, I thought every day, "Ok, Kaply, I did it!" I mean, could this be more pathetic?
In the middle of a generally tough time in life, Bonnie was a joy and a heartbreak. I know I only had her for a couple of weeks, but I'm grateful for that. Hanging out with a warm, purring Bonnie watching basketball was peaceful, and I think she enjoyed it, too.
The kind comments on my last post mean so much to me - sincerely. Thank you very much. I HATE having another sad little tale to express, but I am going to stick to the only thing I know to do, which is to be genuine about what is going on for me and express it in a way that I think might help me in my process. Thank you, my people, for being so kind.