Following a tweet from MiZ_CaRLy, I thought I’d share the story of my cat. Trigger warnings for tears and grief. Carly, my friend, hopefully this story (although it will probably bring you tears) will also bring you some release.
I was flatting in Breaker Bay and decided it was time for me to get a pet. Being a cat-lover, there really wasn’t any decision to make. I’d been heading to the Newtown SPCA for a while, checking out what was there. This one time, I went and was chatting to Julien, the woman who managed the cat-run. She said there was one cat in there that has recently come in, and wasn’t ready for re-homing. One that was really timid and will probably hide from me.
I went in and had a look at a few cats. On the balcony, there was a branch set up and this “timid” cat popped her head out from behind her hidey-place walked up to me and leapt onto me. She walked up my arm (thankfully I was wearing my motorbike leathers), got up to my shoulder, walked across the back of my neck and sat on my other shoulder. I carried on looking around at the other cats, but if I ever got close to any of the others, she would hiss at them. If another cat came close by, she wouldn’t mind, but wouldn’t let me near any of them. A decision had been made. And it wasn’t me who made it.
They kept the cat there for me until she was ready to re-home. When I got her back to the flat, my flatmate and I sat down to try and re-name her. My flatmate was good friends with Barry Saunders (who lived down the road at the time). So we started going through Warratahs songs. We stopped at Maureen and thought that was a pretty shit name for a cat. Tried shortening it to Mo, but I didn’t like that either. I was a big fan of Michael Ende, so extended her name and chose Momo. Perfect.
At the same time, my flatmate’s cousin was staying. When flatty and I had to go to work, the cousin was told that under no circumstances let the cat outside. Two days later, after getting home, there was no cat. “Oh she seemed to really want to go out”. GRRRRRRR!!!! Called Momo. Again and again. Nothing.
Nothing the next day.
Or the next.
But three days later, she re-appeared. Our place had a whole heap of bush going back up into the hills, and dear wee Momo had taken off exploring and came back when she was ready. Another sign of a soul match. She became a devoted companion.
When I moved flats, I knew that she was really bonded. I kept her inside on the first day. Carried her around the edge of the property on the second day, letting her sniff the edges of the property. And just let her go on the third day. My new flatmate wondered about me a little. Here was a sensitive guy with facial hair, long hair, a cat and arrived on my moving in day with a dozen chocolate muffins as a welcome-me present. Now that was a bit of a stress – baking muffins on the day I was moving out. Mind you, this new flatmate did end up becoming my wife.
When I shifted again, I didn’t even bother. Got to the new place and just let her out.
I was able to leave a window open so she could come and go as she pleased. She would go out at night, and I would wake up in the morning with this furry little bundle that had burrowed its way under the blankets.
This of course posed a wee problem when my former flatmate and I fell in love. She was already allergic to cats, and I had become allergic. Poor sweet Momo suddenly became much more of an outside cat.
Time passes. Flats change. Girlfriend becomes partner. Partner becomes fiancee.
As she aged, my poor wee Momo became increasingly sick. She developed kidney problems. Which developed into early stage kidney failure. But, I was told, this was to be expected for a cat of her age. Funny thing is that, at times, she still behaved like a kitten. She did become very clingy. If I left the room, she would cry in the way a mother cat cries for her kittens. She would worry that I had gone forever. At least that’s the way it seemed to my wife.
The vets, ever time I took her in for her checkup, were amazed at how well she was lasting. We went from booking her in to the cattery if we went away to booking her in to the hospital.
We eventually found our first home to buy. It was (and is) a beautiful place. Lots of sunny courtyard, big lawn to play on, hedges to hide under. A cat’s paradise.
Before we moved, I had to take Momo back to the vet because she was now at end-stage kidney failure. She was in pain, she was losing control of her bladder. They took care of her over the weekend. Kept her on steroids. We took her back to her new home, knowing she only had days left. But I so really wanted her to enjoy this lovely new place. The vets kindly drugged her up with steroids before I took her home. It was so good to see. She was herself again. Running around and having a really good time.
Sadly, her good time was only a couple of days as she started to slip away. We made the call to take her back to the vets for the last time. They told us that it was amazing how long she lasted, and it was a testimony to the love she received that she lived so long, so well.
When they put an animal to sleep, they give a wee injection to calm the animal before giving the fatal dose. The first injection was almost enough to take her. As she was euthanased, she looked up at us with something that I like to think (hope) was gratitude. Grateful that she was finally being released. As she passed, she was so beautiful, so restful. There wasn’t so much sadness really. I knew she had a good life – at least after she came into our lives. I knew that she was finally released from her pain.
We buried her in our back garden where she had just a couple of days of great fun and planted a lemon tree to mark the spot.