I am slowly coming to terms with something that is very hard for me to accept. A week ago today, I lost something very dear to me. I thought I could find it, but after searching and searching and searching, I am at a place of acceptance that searching is no longer necessary.
About seventeen years ago, my Mom had lost her cat Sally to a quarter being obstructed in his stomach and he passed away in surgery. She was devastated, it was her favorite cat at the time, and she was having a hard time in the grieving process. My Dad was a paperboy at the time and would put papers in the newsstands at convenient stores and grocery stores. There was a black cat that hung around the Marvin’s (1). After a few weeks of noticing the cat wasn’t going anywhere, he decided to pick up the cat and bring her home.
He surprised Mom one evening by saying, “I have something for you.” Mom, of course, was wary of what he had. Dad was standing by the back door and Mom went to look outside and saw the black cat walking around. To say the least, Mom wasn’t happy, she still wasn’t over the death of Sally. She did relent and agree to keep the cat under the circumstances that the cat didn’t come inside.
My sister and I are inquisitive creatures by nature. We were excited about a new cat. I remember us sitting the cat on Jessica’s bed and we were thinking about what to name it. We just assumed it was a girl, cats were hard to tell what gender they were and this cat didn’t look too happy to be in our home. I really liked the name Midnight, but no one else liked the name. We tried coming up with a very striking name for the cat, but nothing ever stuck. So, she was uncreatively called, “The Black Kitty.”
For years, Jessica and I would torture the cat (2). It wasn’t that we did it on purpose, we just wanted to play, really. According to my mom, I would put Black Kitty in my dresser drawers and forget about her. Plus, Jessica and I would make Black Kitty “play drums” on her stomach…she always looked up at both of us disapprovingly and we could tell she wanted to claw our faces off.
This cat was tough. She survived everything. We had a house fire in ’99 and lost everything (3). But, by some miracle, our animals – Black Kitty and our two dachshunds – made it out alive. From the house fire, Black Kitty was never the same, she used to have this really sweet meow that most cats have, but after the fire, she had a meow that sounded like a mixture between an old witch cackling and someone who had smoked their whole life.
Surviving a house fire was a walk in the park for this cat. After we had found a new home in town, my mom, sister, and I had decided to go to Ft. Smith, Arkansas to visit my dad at his job. It was a good 30 minutes to get to Domino’s Pizza from our home. As soon as we pulled up, my mom and dad were outside of the truck talking and heard a meowing. Meow. Meow. Meow. The looked around, but couldn’t find anything. It wasn’t until one of them suggested that the meowing sounded like it was coming from the truck, that they looked underneath the hood of the truck…there they found Black Kitty, clinging to the battery for dear life (4). We pulled her off and saw that she had burned her stomach. Scared all of us! But, she managed to survive it all.
My parents divorced when I was 13 and the divorce prompted my mom to relocate me and my sister to Rhode Island. Black Kitty got to take a break from some drama in her short life and enjoy the new scenery. It was the drive back to Oklahoma when we moved back that had us all scared for her.
We were driving in a car that didn’t have a very good air conditioner…in the summertime. To put it lightly, Black Kitty wasn’t handling the heat very well. She was panting, refused to drink, refused to eat, and we were all very worried she wouldn’t survive the trip back home. We tried giving her water, and put cool water on her back. She let us do that, and was relieved when we got a hotel for the night for a cool room. By yet another miracle, Black Kitty had survived the trip home (5). Oklahoma was her original home and it would have been horrible to bury her somewhere along the route.
We had been living back in Oklahoma for about three years and were beginning to wonder if and when Black Kitty would ever pass away. She had been through a <b>lot</b> at this point. We began making jokes, about how Black Kitty had drank from the fountain of youth and that she would never die. Made jokes how she outlived a 2-year-old cat, made jokes that she almost outlived me when I was in critical condition with my health. When we called each other on the phone – particularly me and my dad – we would say, “Why won’t she die?!”
But, she still lived and persevered. Though, she did have a close call with death one evening when she was screaming her head off at the front door. It wasn’t until Mom had opened the door to see a huge bobcat on Black Kitty’s heels (6). Black Kitty quickly burst into the house, fearing for her live effectively.
It wasn’t until the last few years that she started to show a decline. She was losing weight and getting around slower. At which point, my step-dad found it funny to call her a dinosaur because the way she walked mimicked what a stegosaurus might look like walking. She would always startle us when we walked in a room, meowing in her half-witch/half-smoker meow. It was her way of reminding us that she was still there.
Last October, Mom was on her lunch break from work and had come home to watch some TV. She always let Black Kitty sit on her lap and that day was no exception. All of a sudden, Black Kitty collapsed and convulsed, screaming in pain. Mom didn’t know what to do as she watched Black Kitty’s body go rigid beneath her (7). She rushed Black Kitty to the vet, and the vet informed her that Black Kitty had a seizure, most likely from low blood sugar. Mom mentioned Black Kitty’s age and the vet also noted that she might be entering the dying stages of her life and to just make her more comfortable.
That was hard for me to hear. I know I’d joked about her dying, but I never really wanted her to die. I wasn’t there when Black Kitty had her seizure, but from what Mom said, it was horrible and something she hoped she would never have to see again. I think we all hoped that would happen.
On my first day back to classes this semester, I was nearly ready walk out the door. As I walked by my bedroom, I heard this painful scream. I went inside and saw Black Kitty convulsing and clinging to the bed (8). It broke my heart seeing her like that and the only thing I could do was just pet her and tell her she was going to be okay. She came out of the seizure and was fine after we fed her and gave her some water. We figured she would be okay, that her blood sugar might have gotten low again.
Just last week, it happened again. Same situation, I was getting ready for school and I heard her screaming. I did what I did last time, petted her, let her know that she was going to be okay. I really hated to see her in so much pain. This seizure had lasted pretty long too, at least five minutes (9). I tried calling Mom, and finally got a hold of her and told her that Black Kitty had another seizure. She said to put her outside, so that she could go to the bathroom, because she probably needed to. I fed and watered Black Kitty before putting her outside, she seemed fine. I planned on letting her back in in about five to ten minutes or until she started to yell at me to let her back in, “because she was old.”
It never happened.
I went outside to look for her and couldn’t find her. I called. I yelled. I screamed. I cried. I couldn’t find her. It may sound pathetic, but I emailed my teachers and let them know I wouldn’t be in class because I couldn’t find my cat. I explained she was an older cat, so I think they were understanding. From about nine in the morning until the sun went down, I searched. I was convinced I was going to lose my voice for how loud I was crying out for my cat. It was in that moment, that I realized how much I loved her.
You’d have to be a pretty heartless person to not love a cat that you’ve had for over sixteen years of your life. All the memories came flooding and I couldn’t help but cry. I felt it was my fault that she was gone. After all, I’d put her outside. I’d not paid attention. I let her go out into the woods to find a place to fall asleep and never wake up again.
The next day, I was aching so bad that I could barely move. Mom had come home and she was on the lookout for Black Kitty. She couldn’t find her either. The weekend came, Monday came, and then it snowed yesterday…
And today? Today I am trying to accept that she is gone. It has been a week today since I let her outside. It’s hard opening the front door and anticipating seeing her there and she isn’t. I miss opening my bedroom door and hearing her cackling meow. I almost miss her peeing on one of my favorite blouses…almost. This cat had watched me grow up and was like a secondary parent. She would claw me in the face when I made her mad, would stalk away when she knew I was wrong, and would sit on my lap when she knew I needed it. To say the least, I miss her. It’s hard to forget the memory of a cat who grew up with you.
So this is for you Black Kitty, wherever you may be. Even though you got on my nerves and even though we didn’t always see eye to eye, I love you. I hope you are in a better place where you won’t have to feel any more pain.
(If you noticed, there are numbers throughout this blog. Each number signifies each life Black Kitty had. She truly lived nine lives.)