final moments

I sway slowly…waiting.

A tiny, fur-covered figure–a fraction of what he once was–is swaddled in a newborn’s receiving blanket.

“first moments” the tag on the blanket reads.

the irony burns my eyes and the letters blur together.

small snores escape his parted mouth.

I don’t even notice my face is wet until my brother leans in and touches each cheek with a tissue.

thank you for so many years…

thank you for sticking by me while I labored with Eddie…

thank you for staying by my side while I cramped and miscarried.

thank you…

and then…

nothing.

peace at last

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.*

Thank you, Lord for blessing me with Louis for 17 and a half years.

I know he is sleeping in my Grandma’s lap now.

Comfortable.

Happy.

At peace.

Louis The Cat Sluiter
April 1994- October 2011
Best friend and Son of a B

*Lyrics from “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil F Alexander

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.

Bird-watching

Louis loves this time of year because all his feathered friends come to snack right outside his window. His friend the Cardinal was there this morning. Simple joys.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Be a Cat…

Poor Louis! Some of you remember a blog I posted in January about Louis having an…uh…issue with digestion. Well, his issue is back. SO….if you are not a fan of poop updates, now would be the time to check out the pics and move on without reading. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

Like I said, Louis had some constipation issues in January. The vet told us then that older cats tend to have this issue and that we will always have to be aware of his, um, bathroom habits. A couple weeks ago Cortney and I noticed that Louis was starting to occasionally leave some of his bathroom habits behind in the downstairs rooms. He was also throwing up a lot after eating.

At first we thought perhaps our cat has gotten sick of the fat jokes and become bulimic. He started getting VERY whiney too. He was also refusing to take his twice a week laxative. So, today Cort caved and called the vet. Sure enough, his previous issue was back, and he needed to be cleaned out. I won’t go into details, but it was not pleasant for anyone involved. Lucky for me, I was at work when all this happened.

Apparently the cat REALLY needed a bath when Cort got him home, so Cort closed himself in the bathroom with the cat and forced Louis into the bathtub. A little part of me wishes I could have seen that, but then he would have made me help…so I am pretty glad I just had to hear about it afterward.

Louis was much more into his food and water now that his guts have room for them. There he is having a light snack. You can see his carrier is outside…it needed to be sprayed out and cleaned. Anyone have any good ideas on how to get the smell of poo out of plastic? Anyone? huh.
Louis must have gotten over the fact that Cortney is the one who brought him to be violated, because he cozied back up to be brushed.

Yup, that is definitely the face of forgiveness. Louis will be ok…in fact, the vet did some blood work since Lou is 14 1/2 years old just to check his kidneys and liver…and guess what! Dr. Wilson was quite impressed with how great Louis’s health is. So aside from needing a daily laxative AND needing a once a week dose of metamusil mixed with his food, he is totally fine! Geesh!

Shots and Cement

No one was spared any excitement today! The morning started with Louis’s yearly trip to the vet! Doesn’t he look excited?

The vet was very impressed with Louis’s good behavior during his examination. He didn’t even hiss or cry when he got his shots! So now he is all caught up on his rabies shot, so he can bite you and you’ll be fine. Fun times!
Equally as fun is the fact that cement was mixed and poured today! Look at all those bags of cement waiting to become a part of our home! All in all 12 94-pound bags of cement, 2 1/2 yards of gravel, and 7 beers were used to make our cute little patio.
Cortney took a half day today to accomplish this huge feat. He didn’t do it alone, though! My dad, who also took a half day, came over with all the proper equipment…including my grandpa Riemersma. They developed quite a nice assembly line: Grandpa mixed, Dad transported the cement from the mixer to the patio hole, and Cort shoveled and spread the dumped cement.
That’s a whole lot of work being dumped!
But it was all worth it! Look at that smooth -looking patio!
Cortney finally sent my dad home around 9:30 tonight, and came in himself around 10:00 and took a shower and drank a beer. Big day! However, as you can see below, just before I took this picture of him finally relaxing, I reminded Cort that now he can get started on finishing the basement! Yeah!

Happy Birthday, Louis!

Today is also Louis’ 14th bday–yes, I know that is a seven in his bday treat…I didn’t have a one or a four. BUT, there is some significance to the seven. Louis was born April 27 of 1994. My mom and dad kept saying no to me getting one of my high school boyfriend’s kittens. Then my mom went to Mark’s openhouse with me and SAW the kittens. She finally caved and Louis, the runt of the litter, came home with me. I was 16.
Louis lived at my parents’ house through the rest of my high school career and my stay at WMU. When I graduated and moved out of my parents’ house, I took Louis with me as a roommate. So the seven represents the 7 years that Louis has now lived with me! As you can see, he enjoyed his birthday treat with the seven very much!
He spent the rest of his day being lazy with us. Here, he cuddles up to Cortney. Hopefully Louis will be around for another 14 years because I can’t imagine my life without him. He has faithfully listened to all my problems and all my joys without judging me. He even stays up with me at night when I am sick, and knows just how to comfort me with snuggles when I am sad. Aside from the occasional hairball vomit and spite pee (ask Cort about that), he has been the best cat ever! Happy birthday, Lou!

Sunday Brunch

Sunday mornings at the Sluiter house usually involve a huge breakfast cooked by Cortney and a whole lot of sitting around. Louis is pretty much the MVP of this. He can find a sunbeam and get himself pretty darn relaxed.
He’s so relaxed, in fact, that he doesn’t realized there is a new customer at the Sluiter “deck” buffet. We’ve had birds and squirrels, but this morning, we had our first racoon:
Yup, he just dug in and chowed down as we sat here looking at him. Cortney was finally brave enough to crack the slider door and yell, “Get out of here, ya jerk!” This harsh comment compelled the Racoon to scurry off the feeder and get his big butt stuck in the slats of our deck. Since we were not about to help this dude out, he figured out how to wiggle his way out and shimmy down the deck. Then he waddled off to the woods. Who will be our next woodland visitor? Will I wake up to a deer up there tomorrow?

And You Think YOU Have Problems…

It’s that time of year – the time for sniffles and sickness. The Sluiter family is being hit with it like everyone else. I stayed home a day last week for a plugged up face, and was sick again today with a fever and sore throat. Luckily we had a snow day, but I will have to take tomorrow off as well. And of course, now Cortney is coming down with it. But that doesn’t compare with the cat’s problems.

Lately, Louis has not been wanting to use his litter box to go…um…number 2. It’s one thing for him to pee on things – cats do that when they are stressed or angry. But the poo thing is usually more serious. So while I fought my fever all day, Cortney took Louis to the vet.

I must warn you – for those of you with weak stomaches or an aversion to poo, you should probably just move on in your internet surfing. Seriously. Ok…don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It turns out that Louis was constipated. The vet felt a rather large lump in his intestine of, well, poop. So they had to do an enema. He finally came home around 3:30, and his butt fur was all wet. Cort said that after they did the procedure HE proceded to sit in his own…well…you know. So they tried to wash him off, but apparently he had had enough of people back there and was pretty uncooperative.

Look again at that picture up there. He looks pretty humiliated, doesn’t he?

At least now he is “cleaned out”. Now we have to give him a second litter box of different litter. Apparently when it hurts to poo, cats form an aversion to the PLACE where it hurt to poo, so the vet was afraid he still might not want to use his litter box. We also have to give him a stool softener once a day. APPARENTLY this is not all that uncommon in “older” cats (Louis is 13 1/2). Great. My old man cat has pooping problems. What’s next? False teeth?

Anyway, he is home and resting. He’s even forgiven Cortney for putting him through the whole ordeal. Or maybe he’s just keeping his enemies close…hmmmm….

Louis’s new friend…or nemesis?

As I’ve said before, Louis really enjoys watching the birds fly up to our deck and nibble on the bird seed in our new bird feeder. Yesterday, we noticed a new customer to the feeding frenzy: a wiley squirrel who somehow figured out how to shimmy up the posts (we don’t have stairs) to our deck and lean out to enjoy the meal. As my friend, Catye and I watched yesterday, she commented that the squirrel was “just a typical American over-eating at the buffet!” And as Cortney joined the crowd watching the squirrel make a porker of himself, we started wondering how to get rid of him. That is about when we all realized that Louis had noticed the squirrel and was going crazy. Maybe we couldn’t take the joy of squirrel-watching away from the cat. I mean, it IS the holiday season! It’s all about giving, right?

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