When our fourteen-year-old Siamese-calico cat was peeing on the rug and having occasional bowel movements in dark corners, my husband and I couldn't wait until she died. Peace at last, we thought. No more litter boxes, no more cat whining, no more scrubbing the carpet. But as the time drew nearer, she seemed to sense that her days were winding down. She suddenly became very affectionate and wanted to sit on my lap for hours at a time. She wanted to be petted and cuddled and to stay near me all the time. She laid with my husband on the couch, hung out with him in the computer room, and slept on top of us at night, even in the heat of summer. But she was losing weight and going downhill fast. In spite of myself, I held her in my lap and cried, finally realizing that we were going to lose her one of these days. You see, in spite of her annoying, constant meowing and soiling the carpet, no matter what I did to stop it, I was going to miss her.
It all happened very fast. One day, she could barely walk, and she cried when she tried to stand up. She was sleeping more and more. I didn't want to accept it, but we finally had to make a difficult decision.
We took her to the vet to have her put down. I held her in a towel in my arms, crying my eyes out. The vet was extremely busy, and it was obviously an inconvenient time for her, but she patiently explained the procedure, agreeing that it was probably the best thing to do. We stayed with our cat throughout the whole procedure, telling her how much we loved her. I hope she understood from the tone of our voices that we truly cared about her. I had lost my temper so many times when she soiled the carpet, I wanted to make sure she knew that we loved her, in spite of the problems between us.
Instead of earning our freedom from litter boxes and gaining peace of mind, we sat in front of the TV set listening for the cat. The house was just too darned quiet. Something had died inside of us, and life seemed very dull. We suddenly realized just how important she was and how much she had dominated our life for the last fourteen years.
After a couple of months, we happened to take our dog to the vet and fell in love with every cat and kitten we saw. Was it time to take the plunge and get another cat? We discussed it thoroughly and ran into the vet's the next day to adopt an adorable tortoise shell kitten who was obviously the runt of the litter. She was in a cage with a larger black male kitten, and they were cuddled up together like the best of friends. We didn't have the heart to part them, so we took both kittens.
Were we crazy? We started out with no cats and ended up with two kittens! After a few days, we were in love. How did we ever think we could live without a cat -- let alone, two?
After a hard day at work, my favorite way to relieve stress is to curl up in the easy chair with one or two kittens on my lap. My stress just melts away.
Our cats are loving, sweet, funny, and unpredictable. They bring life into the house. And yes, we still have to clean out the litter box. But somehow, we don't seem to mind so much.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
February 20, 2009