My Raven Girl

The sun is out and it’s beautiful.  I’m trying to decide if I want to write or go take a nap.

Two days ago on May 5th, I had to say goodbye to my girl kitty, Raven.  Less than two weeks ago I had taken her in because she seemed to be having a hard time shaking off a cold.  Turns out the “cold” was her in stage 4 renal failure.  Basically, the end.  She was just one month shy of her 7th birthday which is two days after my own birthday.

Normally the vets are dealing with cats who are more like 14 or 15 years old.  It was hard even for them to watch a kitty so young struggle with kidney disease.

I’ve barely had any sleep since I found out.  At first I lost sleep because of the news and wanting to spend every moment I had left with her.  Then it was because she was unable to get comfortable herself and was in constant need for comfort and love.  Having “mommy ears”, it’s impossible to hear any little squeak or peep without waking up and walking towards the *being* in need to help them while nearly comatose myself.

Now I can’t sleep because my world is still upside down and I hardly know what to do with myself.

I held her close to my heart until the end . . . until I felt the warmth start to leave her body.

The crying comes on suddenly and in periodic spurts.  Like a release valve so that I’m able to free up some room in me to be able to continue processing what just happened in my life.

I don’t know how such a huge presence fit into that little kitty body of hers.

Raven 1

Whenever I get really stressed out, I start to clean things.  Not mindlessly.  I use it as a focal point to pull myself back together.  Kind of like a moving meditation.  It’s slow and deliberate.  I focus on all of the sensations to help pull me into the present and into my body.  Focus on the smells, the movement, the touch.

I didn’t have to wonder what I was going to do once returning home for the first time without her, because my thoughtful girl had left me one final gift . . . pukes on my bedroom floor.  I was genuinely thankful.  I took my time, knowing it was the last time I would ever get to scrub Raven pukies out of the carpet.

She was such an integral part of my daily life.

For years when brushing my teeth I had to play ‘move from under the water faucet before I spit toothpaste onto your head you silly cat with your water fetish’ with her.

Brushing my teeth this morning was so uneventful.

I looked around for our boy kitty, Gir, to see if he’d be willing to irritate the shit out of me by sticking his head under the water faucet while I tried to get ready.  But no, he wants nothing to do with that wet stuff.

She used to also sit between the shower curtain and clear liner while I took a shower.  At first I thought it was because she liked my company . . . but no, she was just waiting patiently until I moved and she could stick her head under an even bigger water faucet.

Then there was the moment yesterday when I walked into my room and saw sitting in the corner of my room, her raggedy toy that she used to leave for me as a “gift”.  She didn’t have access to rodents (thank god) to drop at my feet to tell me what a shitty hunter I was, so she had two toys that she used instead as a gesture.

Raven toy

It was originally attached to a larger toy, but she only ever wanted this part.  We refer to it as “the purple spider”, but god only knows what it really is.  It’s still where she left it for me a couple of nights before she went.  I’m not ready to move it yet.

Her other favorite toy (which I have no idea where that is) is a tiny little brown bear.  I used to find it regularly floating face down in the water dish.  We never figured out whether she was treating it as a kill and cleaning it, treating it as a kitten and drowning it, or giving her humans a warning.

I’m going to miss her always trying to stick her whole head into my coffee mug no matter what was in there. Repeatedly.

I’m going to miss how she got jealous of any time I spent on puzzles, and so when she thought I wasn’t looking she’d attack the pieces, chew on them, throw them onto the floor, and then shove them under the couch.

I’m going to miss taking her for walks on her leash during the summer months.

Raven 4

Raven5

I miss her ritual for sitting on my lap.  She’d walk over the top of me in one direction and then the other direction, and then walk onto me one last time where she would just stand there and aggressively flick her tail at me saying, “Scuse me.  Ahem.  Are you going to invite me to sit down?”  Which I would have to ask her if she wanted to sit down and put my arms in a specific way around her before she would be like, “Oh? You would like me to sit with you?  Well, I *suppose* I could . . . if it would make *you* happy.”

Raven 8

She would often press all four paws over my heart and just sit there and purr.  The above picture was taken just a couple of days before I found out how sick she was.

I’ll also miss how she managed to force a shoebox past its limit, hanging out all over the place, and make it look comfortable.

Raven 7

Or how she used to lay in positions on the floor that looked so dramatic I would start quoting Shakespeare.  “Oh Romeo, Romeo! . . . Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Raven 3

I’ll miss her judging my stupid human habits:

Raven 2

She had been found in the streets as a kitten and taken to a shelter.  She was only 6 weeks old and less than a pound when I first saw her.

I had been to the shelter a couple of days before but I just didn’t connect with any of the cats.  My son had already found the cat he wanted (Gir), but I wanted both of our cats to come home at the same time so I made him wait.  I told him that if the kitten he wanted was meant to be his, it would still be there when we came back.

When we came back, the very moment I walked into the room and saw her I knew she was the kitty I was looking for.  Plus, the one my son wanted *was* still there.

We brought them both into a private room to see how they would get along.  Raven took to me immediately.  She went straight to my feet and wasn’t going to leave.  The people at the shelter said that 3 other families had already looked at her, but she wouldn’t come near them.

Gir was 6 weeks older than Raven, so he was huge next to her.  He was strutting around like he was hot stuff.  He came over and knocked Raven over (to be fair, it wasn’t that hard to do).  I waited to see what she did before I reacted.  At first she started to run away from him, but as he walked away she turned back around and went after him and then knocked him on the head and stood there strong facing him like a little spitfire daring him to start shit with her again.

It was in that moment that I knew she was my kitty.

Here was their first day home with us:

Kitten Raven and Gir

It was also the last day they curled up like that together.  Gir likes to be affectionate and tried to take care of her, but she grew up on the streets and didn’t know how to be loved and always pushed him away.  He never gave up trying to though.  He would give her space, but he was always looking out for her.

Here he is a couple of days before she died:

Gir and Raven

He’s actually having a pretty hard time with it.  You could tell he knew something was up.  His meow and demeanor changed a couple of days before she died.  His eyes looked more watery and had a sadness to them.  They still do.  He’s not being his normal cocky, arrogant self, and it’s heart wrenching to see.

I’m not going to miss the vet and hospital bills, or the injections, the constant vet appointments, or watching Raven fade away.  But I sure do miss her.

 

Feeling Like a Cat On a Leash

I’ve recently started taking my girl kitty, Raven, out on a leash.  As of June 04, she will be six years old and has been a strictly indoors cat (not including the times she ran out the door and got herself lost in the local neighborhood and caused me to cry so hard I nearly vomited).  While there is also a boy kitty in the house, Gir (pronounced GRRRR), he wants nothing to do with this crazy foolishness of willingly leaving a warm, cozy home with food, toys, and humans who cater to his every whim.

So what new level of crazy possessed me to try and take a cat out on a leash?  (I’ll wait for you to finish laughing first. . . )

Back in April, when me and my son went to go see Jay in The Netherlands, I took the cats to a cat sitter.  It’s a special place set up just for cats.  A cat motel, if you will.  This place also had a cat proof outside play area for them to go out if they wished.  So, long story short, Raven got a taste of the outdoors, and now she pines for the outside.

Problem is, as soon as she steps outside, she becomes freaked out and disoriented.  She’s an indoor cat, with an outdoor cat stuck inside of her.  She doesn’t understand it, all she knows is that she wants it with every fiber of her body.  Even though it scares the living shit out of her.

I happened to have a cat harness and leash because when I got them as kittens, I was delusional in thinking that was going to happen.  After finding it,  I got down on the ground with Raven and explained to her, that if she wanted a chance at going outside, she was going to have to suffer this harness.  And I’ll be damned if she didn’t stand there and let me put it on her.

This from a cat, who as a kitten weighing less than a pound, was able to wrestle her way out of getting her temperature taken.  Even while in a towel taco.  And two of us holding her.

So there she was, with a cat harness and leash standing at the front door looking hopeful at the door handle, and me standing there not knowing if I wanted to laugh or cry.  I have cats for a reason.  Namely, because they don’t need to be walked.  I’m lazy like that.

So fine.  I sucked it up and opened the front door.  But she’s doing this weird thing, where she lowers all of the way down on her haunches and belly to the ground.  Cats hate anything restricting their movement, so they get all weird about it and basically lay down.  As one owner put it, “it’s not taking them out for a walk, so much as taking them out for a drag”.  Ah, yes.  Now, I remembered why this didn’t work before.

At this point I’m standing there with my hand over my face and shaking my head.  What am I doing to myself?  This is so ridiculous.

But she must have seen a bird or smelled something good, because instinct or not. . . she was finding a way to make her way to the stairwell.  She looked like a miniature version of the cartoon pink panther as she slinked along the ground being all sneaky sneaky.  This was one determined cat.  Nothing, but nothing . . . was going to stop her from her dream.

Because I wasn’t going to watch her suffer down 3 flights of stairs, I picked her up and walked her down.  I got her to a grassy area free of any dogs, and let her have her moment.  I stood there patiently and gave her encouragement.  Since I was in broad daylight and visible to my neighbors, I figured I was in it for the long haul and just gave in to the crazy.

She was shaking like a leaf, just like she normally does when she’s outside.  But her determination was shining through.  She low crawled in a hurry to a place that was less open.  I kept talking to her gently that she was okay and that she just needed to get used to being outside and on a leash and that she was doing great.  Slowly but surely, she calmed down enough to explore and sniff a few things.  After about 15 minutes, she gave me a mew that sounded like, “I’ve reached my limit for now, please take me back inside.”

After we got back inside and I took off the harness, I let her know that she did wonderful for her first try.  Once free, she seemed awfully damn proud of herself.  She went prancing around the house like she was just given an award for kitty of the year.  Gir was pretty disgusted with her behavior and the attention she was getting from me.  Within an hour, she was meowling at the door to go back out.  I had created a monster.

I took her out again the next day and she adjusted more to walking with a harness.  By the 3rd day, we actually walked a full block with her pattering along side me like a happy puppy.

In the following walks, she met and greeted a puppy with no incident.  She learned to not scatter and run for the bushes every time a car passed.  She decided that she preferred the sidewalk to the grass and mud that got her paws dirty (maybe I influenced that, maybe I didn’t).

We were laughed at several times, and greeted with smiles and friendly chatter by others.  In a neighborhood full of dog owners, we were quite an odd sight to behold.

She would still shake like a leaf, and she would still hit a wall where she had hit her limit and would stop and give me the “please take me home” mew.  But she had done it.  She overcame her disorienting fear with determination and a need to do this thing that she wanted so badly.

I helped her, because I was familiar with her situation.  I have an outdoor cat stuck inside me too.  I wish to explore the neighborhood known as the world and satisfy my many curiosities.  I want to run free and frolic.  I know there are adventures to be had and things to chase and food to nom.  Trouble is, I’ve been an indoor cat my whole life. . . and getting into the wide open space scares the living shit out of me.

But I do it anyways.  One low belly crawl step at a time.