Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodbye, Katya

The call came at 11:30 this morning. The vet asked me, "How is she doing?"

"Not good," I said. I listed her problems. She could hardly walk, she wasn't eating, she'd been giving distressed mews all night, she was hiding in corners, and she had this nervous tick where she jumped when there was a sudden sound.

"Yeah, I don't think there's anything more we can do for her. Do you want to do this today?"

"Yes, this afternoon, if possible. I think she's in a lot of pain."

"Why don't you bring her in right now?"

So that was it. No more delays, no more stalling. I gave her a quick bowl of milk-- her last meal-- as the tears started. After two months of preparing for this, I still wasn't ready for it.

How do you put a loved one into the cat carrier for the last time, knowing that it's a hearse? She counts on you, trusts you to take care of her, and you are leading her off to her death. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

She died today.


Katya has been my most stable companion over the past eight years. She's seen me through library school, two relationships, a new job, four moves, a new kitten, a marriage and divorce, and countless other adventures. She's endured numerous pet names, including: sweetheart baby kitty, potato bug kitty, little boo, squeakerbot, sweetness, snurfler, boocat, furbot, and lil' squeaker.

I never thought I could feel this way about a cat. She was the gentlest, sweetest feline I've ever known. She never bit, growled, scratched or hissed. Even when I was trying to force a pill down her, she would resist with all her might, but she would never resort to violence. All she ever wanted was a warm lap, a hand to rub against, and a hard brushing. Sometimes I thought she was the Jesus kitty because she was so full of love and patience.

She loved lap time and demanded affection several times a day. She had a high-pitched, squeaky meow that she only used to ask for love. At night she would sleep on the pillow next to me. In the mornings she stood on the bed and squeaked (squoke?) at me while I got dressed. She had chronic problems with eyesnot, so every morning we played a game where she would try to rub up against my nice work clothes and deposit her eyesnot onto them. She sat on my lap when I ate breakfast and headbutted my chin. In the evenings she cuddled on my lap or on my chest (if I was lying down) while I watched TV.

I will miss her terribly.

Our Life in Pictures

Katya came into my life in November, 2000. She was already six years old and living in a house with four cats and two dogs-- the lowest cat in the pecking order. Her owner, someone I volunteered with at Ten Thousand Villages, thought she would be better off in a one-pet home. So I took her.

I have no idea of Katya's history before we met. She never talked about it. But she's always been afraid of strangers. The first three days in my apartment she hid behind the couch. She eventually came out, but still preferred to avoid strangers and stand under things.

Slowly she became more comfortable with her surroundings

and warmed up to me.

When I started library school, she moved with me to my new cheap student apartment. She got freaked out occasionally

and would have to hide behind stuff.

For ten horrible days in May 2003, she was lost. She was strictly an indoor cat, but my stupid, careless, moronic roommate left the window open and she jumped out of it. I posted notices all over the neighborhood. Have you seen this cat?

It turned out she was hiding under the neighbor's porch. Even so, I couldn't catch her after three days of camping out in their yard. On the day I graduated from library school, two days after I'd been offered my first professional job, the neighbors caught her in a raccoon trap. It was one of the best weekends of my life: I was done with school, I had a job, and my cat was back. The first night after our reunion, Katya rubbed up against me so much I couldn't sleep. I didn't mind.

The next week I moved out of that apartment and away from the moron idiot roommate. I started working full-time and thought that maybe Katya would like a companion while I was at work. By accident, a new kitten came into our lives. She would become Hermione Krustybutt Psychokitten Kitty.

Katya patiently tolerated this new addition to our family.

And let Hermy tag along

and hide with her behind the bed.

In October of 2003, another lap entered Katya's life.

Sometimes she didn't even wait for an available lap before she settled in.

When Hermione the psychokitty was all grown up,

we moved again.

We were happy in our new house.

I was often blessed with two cats fighting over my lap.

Me and the new lap got married. Katya enjoyed our new marital bedding

and shared with Hermione the pet bed that we got as a wedding present.

We celebrated Xmas 2005 as a family. Katya tolerated a little seasonal flair

and some Xmas love.

Meanwhile, she was getting older.

We moved again. In her last home, Katya continued to play with Pink Bunny and hang out with my shoes.

In March of 2008, my wife moved out. We were down to a one-lap family. Katya's age started showing.

That same month the health problems that would eventually kill her became known to me. Most of those have been documented on this blog already. But throughout all of her illness, she continued to be the same affectionate, loving kitty who demanded lap time.

Near the end she was very frail. These are the last pictures taken of her:

Goodbye, Katya. You were the Best Cat Ever.



Anonymous said...


I am so sorry to hear about Katya. My cat, Astra, died last summer, under similar circumstances, although it was much quicker. I know exactly how you are feeling.

Rebecca Bare

Tim said...

Thanks, Rebecca.

It's almost unnatural how we have these surrogate children who grow up, get old, and die right before our eyes.