This is by far not the best photo I have of the cat, but unfortunately it’s the last one.
Kind of a crummy way to start a blog, but what the hell. Yep… the cat is dead.
It happened last week, the night of Thursday February 19th. As was typical, she wanted to go out and do whatever she does outside. About 20-30 minutes later when Ken checked on her, he found her writhing on the driveway by the side door. Panicked, he brought her in and placed her on the old, beat up sofa. By the time I got down she was already dead.
Long story short, we took her to the emergency pet clinic and had the vet do a postmortem. She wasn’t hit by a car, poisoned by some pet hater, or anything we had unknowingly inflicted upon her… Diagnosis: Asphyxiation brought on by a weak heart due to heart disease. Apparently her breed – Maine Coon – has a genetic disposition to heart disease.
My guess is she was around 10 years old, but none of us are certain. She wasn’t originally ours. More like, we were hers. I guess sometime around 1999 or 2000 she appeared as a big, smart, affable stray in this corner of the neighbourhood and was taken in by the family across the street, who already had a couple cats and eventually added a dog too. But she was a wanderer and spent plenty of time visiting the neighbours, including us. Our first cat died in 2001 at the age of 18, and soon afterwards she was spending more time with us, even coming inside. I guess it was a matter of good timing and made for a smooth transition without too much cat withdrawal.
Eventually the neighbours moved a block down the street, but the cat didn’t follow and we became her official residence. In a way though she didn’t feel like ours. We didn’t go out and pick her, we weren’t her first minders, and we didn’t even name her. But there was an acceptance that she would always be welcome with us. And she was.
It’s been a week and I don’t think it really hit me that hard, at least not as hard as Ken. Of course it was a sad day and she’ll certainly be missed. I catch myself subconsciously listening for her scratching at the door to be let in, or at the door to my room so she can come in and sit on my lap while I’m trying to get something done. Or I expect to see her as I go down the stairs. Or that she’ll magically appear while I’m grilling some meat… She was so friendly (even if she did attack Ken and my mom a couple times) and loved having her head scratched. For her that was bliss.
It’s kind of what I see in the photo here… the bliss of sleep. I had to take one last photo, to help me remember. Yet clearly something’s amiss. Her eyes aren’t right, nor the position of her ears… It’s coupled with the recollection… of shaking her to make sure it wasn’t a temporary loss of consciousness… of checking her mouth to make sure she hadn’t somehow choked on her tongue (she hadn’t)… of the bits of gravel from the driveway clinging to her tongue… of her wet and colder than usual nose… of the softness of her fur when I hugged her… of the warm, limp, jello-like 8.6 kg mass when lifted off the sofa for the final trip to the clinic…
The suddenness was shocking. Playfully chasing shoelaces the last time I saw her. Dead the next. But maybe it was better than standing by helplessly as she slipped away…. certainly a reminder of how quickly and unpredictably life can end.