not just a cat

Dear Louis,

I a writing this now because I know soon it will be too late.  And then I won’t be able to get the words out of my head through all the grief.

I can still remember the day I brought you home.

I was sixteen and had begged my parents (who both had a very known hatred of cats) if I could have one of my boyfriend’s cat’s kittens. I was just as shocked as anyone when they agreed.

I chose you, Louis, because you were the runt.

Your mom was a very small cat, but your dad was HUGE.  I thought for sure you had gotten your mom’s genes and no one would want you.

You could fit in my hands like a small white ball of fluff.

Black ears that were way too big for your body.

Black striped paws and face.

Looooong black tail.

Shiny blue eyes that betrayed to the world that you were Siamese.

You were the softest sort-haird cat I had ever touched.

I remember naming you Louis for two reasons.  1) it was my boyfriend’s middle name. and 2) it is Eddie Vedder’s (of Pearl Jam) middle name.

Plus I thought it was such a man name…not a cat name.  And that made me happy.

You were so tiny.

The first night we made a nice soft place downstairs for you to sleep.  You had food, water, and a litter box.

And you meowed constantly.

For some reason that night, my mom came in to say goodnight to me after I had gone to bed.  This rarely happened anymore, since 16-year old girls really don’t need…or want…their parents dropping in to say goodnight.

When my mom walked in, I was sitting up in bed sobbing.

“What in the world is the matter?” She asked me.

“I love him so much already, mom.  And someday he will die.  That is what pets do.  You get them for only such a short time.”

“Oh honey.  Why do you always look on the gloomy side?  Cats can live forever.  I am sure Louis will be around for a very long time.  And it’s good that you love him so much.  Because you are in charge of him.”

We both chuckled.  I wiped my tears and went to sleep.

And it’s true, you were my cat since you came home in 1994.

Oh, and you didn’t stay small.

At all.

In fact you grew and you grew and you grew.

Until you were the biggest cat ever.

My brothers and I would have friends over and your largeness would startle them.  But you were never mean.  In fact, you usually just wanted a nice pat on the head.

Oh, I totally shirked on my duties of keeping your box clean (mom did it) and feeding you (mom did it) and giving you water (everyone did it…upstairs…by the sink because that is the only place you would drink it.  out of a coffee cup), but were definitely my cat.

You were there for my first break-up.

You were there when I graduated high school.

I cuddled you close before leaving for college. (and while I was gone, you found your cuddles from my brothers…particularly from Mike).

After college, when I moved out, you came with me.

That was in 2001.

It’s been you and me against the world since then, Lou.

You stuck by me when I thought my world was crumbling.  You slept on my bed and nuzzled my face and firmly meowed at me when you believed I was oversleeping.

You kept me company in that little house where it was just the two of us.

You gave Cort the side-eye when we started dating.

You moved with me again into our current house in 2004–seven years ago this November.

You continued to comfort me and listen to me.

And when Cort and I were married, you made clear to him you were not pleased with someone getting in your territory.  Remember how you peed on him in the early morning hours two days after we had been home from our honeymoon?

Sorry that you have had to be banned from the bedroom since then.

But you two took to each other quite well.  You even tolerated Cort’s antics with you.

And once Cort was with us?  I suddenly was a slacker at my cat-care jobs.  And even though he cleans your box and feeds you, you are totally still my cat.

Every time I cry, you suddenly appear next to me, purring and rubbing your head on me.

You stayed up all night with me through my miscarriages and when I labored with Eddie.  You paced.  You meowed.  You pawed at the door for Cort when you felt that I needed help.

You always hated kids.  Every kid.  You would growl (yes, growl) and hiss at them without running from your place.  Like you weren’t going to give in to some small spazzy person.

But when Eddie came along, you turned to a mush pile.

You would meow when he would cry.

You would curl up next to his bouncey seat or lay next to his activity mat as if you were supervising.

You still don’t like little kids, but you still let Eddie do whatever and you are so very patient with him.

He used to crawl after you.

Then he would chase you.

Then he would pull your ears and tail and fur.

Now he tries to carry you or put you on my lap or tell you to “MOVE!”

And you take it all in stride.

Because he is your boy.

You used to run all over the house and jump on the furniture.

You used to eat us out of house and home.

You used to be up before us pawing at our door for food and company.

You used to.

Now, dear Louis, you are seventeen and a half years old.

Your kidneys are failing you and your thyroid doesn’t work like it should.

You have lost your appetite and can’t even walk down the stairs to your litter box anymore.

We have to lift you onto the furniture so you can cuddle near us.

And you are so thin and so frail.

You won’t take your medicine.

You won’t eat your food.

And despite us bringing you a litter box upstairs?  You have still used the floor.

I am terribly afraid, my dear Louis.

I cry knowing that our time is getting shorter.

And I think of that young girl I was crying because I loved my kitten so much.

You have been with me more than half my life.

You have been the one “person” that has been true and loyal through my hardest times.

Your fur holds my tears and my secrets.

I hope I have given you a blessed life, Louis.

And I hope I can continue to make you feel loved for the rest of your days.

Thank you for being my family.

I love you,

Me

*************

I didn’t include any recent pictures.  I would rather remember him all fat and cuddly than how thin and frail he is now.

He has a vet appointment on Tuesday.  We will find out if he is in pain then.  And no, I can’t make him live in pain, so we will find out then what our “best” route will be.

Yes, this hurts.

Fiercely.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Kate, I’m SO sorry you have to go through this! I know how hard this is!

    You’re in my thoughts.

    Amy

  2. {{{Hugs}}} to you and your sweet Louis. It is so very hard to lose a beloved furry family member.

  3. (((Hugs)))

    I know, friend. I know. Too well. And while it isn’t any comfort now, he has clearly had a wonderful and amazing life with you. And he has been well loved.

  4. My heart is with you right now, because I know exactly how this feels.

  5. I am forcing the tears back. I know you love your kitty so much. I once had a kitty that I loved so hard it hurt for five years until I had to give her away because I was so allergic it was making me sick. I cried every day for a long time. I still think about her. Your Louis is so special.

  6. Oh Katie, I am so sorry to hear that Louis has gone downhill so fast. Reading what you wrote sums up the words that I whispered to my cats. This is the hardest time. I wish I could hug you and tell you it will be okay – but it won’t help because he is your first baby.

  7. I too know, and I am so glad you took the time to write this post. Time is never enough with those we love. Sending my cyber hugs, wishing I could do more.

  8. Ohhh…I am crying… Sweet sweet Louis.. My heart is heavy for you 🙁

  9. He loved breakfast cereal. Especially lucky charms. Also he routinely peed on my pillow to the point where mom called him a son of a b. I was not happy about you graduating college and taking him away, but in retrospect I think you needed him more than we did. I have so many fond memories of that furry little son of a b. With tears in my eyes I compose this poorly worded and un-thought-out tribute to the one who sparked my love of cats. Louis, your memory will live on forever. I am reminded of you every day by my own three cats, but you will always be the first. I see I have rambled. I love you Lure.

    Edit: he is also the cause of my permanently hard left nipple, so there’s that.

  10. It’s always hard to say goodbye to a furry member of the family, be it a cat, dog or even a hamster. I have had many hamsters through the years (I am 30 and hubby and I still have one!), and it still hurts like hell when they go to hamster heaven…

    Most times, animals are better than people, because they know how we are feeling before we even know.

  11. I am so sorry! It is always so hard when you lose a pet. I went through this a couple of times. Most recently with my mom’s dog, but he was still part of the family. A very important part. Sending you hugs and the love!

  12. We recently had to put down my cat Isis, who was the first pet who was “mine” instead of a family pet. We got her as an adult shelter cat, so she was only with us for about 6 years. I remember hoping, when we took her to the vet that day, just hoping that I had done everything I could to make her life better than what it would’ve been in that shelter.

    *hugs* to you. Watching our loved ones grow old is hard, no matter how furry.

  13. I’m sorry, Katie. I could relate to so much of this post – my cat, Boo, came into my life 10 years ago when I desperately needed someone or something to love. He’s been my buddy ever since and also gave my husband the side-eye when he entered my life a year later (although he never peed on him). He also hated kids, but has come to share at the very least a begrudging affection for my daughter, even though she chases him mercilessly. I’ve also shirked my feeding and litterbox duties in favor of Hubs doing them, yet Boo is and always will be my cat.

    And though he seems to be in relatively good health (barring a slightly alarming mangy, scabbed spot on his nose), I also fret from time to time about the day he will die. It hurts my heart to even think about. So, I completely understand your pain and grief right now. Please keep us informed of Lou’s progress.

  14. Oh, honey 🙁

    My cat, Ebony, was with us from when I was little. She came home less than a week after I was brought home from the hospital – she was found at a humane society, napping among a “troubled” German shepherd. Nobody knows how she got in his cage – but she was “my cat” (though my sister will try to tell you differently).

    She lived until 16, and the decline was very fast – she simply lost her sense of balance, and that’s everything for a cat.

    (((hug)))

  15. Jenn Gilman says:

    Beautiful post. So relateable (is that a word?) Anyway, when I put my cat, Gemini to sleep three years ago I cried like I’ve never cried before (and I still do, when I think of him). There are animals, and then there are our SOUL-ANIMALS…the ones that belong to us, and with us. It hurts so much when they leave. I know you gave Lou a wonderful home, and that you’ll make the best choice for him. Be gentle with yourself.

  16. I’m so sorry. Some say they are only animals, but our pets are part of our family. Watching our first go downhill is the hardest. It has been a long time since I had to put my first dog down. I still tear up over her.

  17. Oh, our pets.
    I think there is no other relationship where you have to give so little to get so much.

    I mean really.

    A little food, a bowl of fresh water, a place to sleep. And you become their whole world.
    It’s unconditional love at its least complicated.

    Until you have to say goodbye.

    But in your heart, Louis will always find a little food, a bowl of fresh water and a place to sleep.

    Peace and love to you both.
    XO

  18. Big fuzzy kitty hugs to you, my dear. I hear ya. My fur-babies are only 11 and 10 now, but I’ve always thought about that day. Cats do something special to us that dogs and humans can’t. As much as it sucks to step in their puke and clean their litter box, their mews, lap-warming, and general cat-itude is so redeeming.

    You are so lucky to have had a wonderful long time with Louis. And he is so lucky to have had you as his cat-momma.

  19. Crying a few tears for you today. I know that Louis means the world to you. Sending you hugs.

  20. Thinking of you. . .

    I know how you feel.

    Sitting here crying thinking of my cat Margo and how it was when she passed.

    Losing your fur-babies is hard. Very hard.

    Love to you, sweetie.

  21. Oh this just totally made tear up because I can completely relate. My first baby Sabrina is my kitty and she will be 15 this next month. She is thinning out, sleeping all the time, and now she has lost her eyesight. It breaks my heart.

    Take it easy on yourself sweetie. It’s so hard losing a family member even the furry ones.

  22. I am so sorry Katie. I’ll be thinking of you and dear Louis on Tuesday.
    My heart breaks for the both of you. Xoxox

  23. I am so sorry… no one should have to lose a treasured member of the family. My cat Varmit is almost 14 and I can’t ever bear to think about the day she might not be with me. Cats are so great comforters. Thinking of you and Louis.

  24. Oh this made me cry. People who don’t have pets just can’t understand. They are family. I’m so sorry that he’s sick. You’ve obviously given him an amazing life full of love. He is a lucky cat and friend.

  25. I lost my 13 yr old dog a few months ago.

    She was my baby before I had real babies. I got her when I was 19.

    She was with me through everything; she was with me before the PPD changed me into this person I am still trying to accept.

    It hurt so much to lose her. So, so much. I still miss her, but the pain does get easier to deal with, if its any consolation.

  26. oh, katie, i so know how you feel. when i was 5, we got our first family cat. he was 20 when he passed away quietly at our home. and just last summer, my husband and i had to put one of our dear kitties to sleep due to his health. you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers this afternoon. louis looks like quite the charmer and i’m sure you’ll always look back to these great memories of him with a fondness not many people will be able to understand. best wishes, friend…

  27. I’m so sorry Katie. I am totally not a cat person, plus I’m allergic, but I’m sitting at my computer bawling.

    I pray that he has no pain and that you can find comfort.

  28. I am so sorry. I just went through this in April with my beloved 13 year old pug. It was very hard. And I miss her so much. Hugs to you.

  29. I am so sorry. Your cat is so beautiful. I hope both of you can find peace.

  30. Shienna says:

    I feel the same way too 🙁

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