It’s so strange that I would find you on Facebook, in a city hundreds of miles from my home. But the moment I saw your face, posted by a friend who had moved from Atlanta to Houston, I could tell there was something special about you. A connection I could already feel.
Then I learned your story and I knew that some how, some way, I needed to give you a home. My friend reported that the family you had known your entire life of 11 years no longer wanted you. You were “too much trouble” and their eight-year old son spent his time tormenting you. They left you alone all day long. When they were away, they left you behind. The woman who came by to feed you had to spend a long time giving you the attention you craved more than food.
Because it was August of 2015, it was difficult to transport you by air. Then my dear husband offered to drive to Houston and pick you up. After some frantic, last-minute arrangements, your cat sitter picked you up from your “family,” took you to your vet for all your shots, then delivered you to my friend from Atlanta.
The next day my husband arrived in Houston. You were skittish, so rather than try to transfer you to our carrier, my friend gave us his carrier. After a quiet return trip, you were naturally nervous in a new home, with new people, new dogs, and, horrors, another cat. But you settled in nicely at our little place in the mountains. That became your new home, and I became your new mother.
You might not have understood why I changed your name. Your old family had called you by a different name, but I immediately decided to call you “Leah.” It was appropriate for two reasons. First, my Houston friend was a Jewish cantor, so giving you a Jewish name was a tribute to him. But more importantly, Leah was the unloved and unwanted wife of the patriarch Jacob, the sister of the more beautiful Rachel.
But you, my Leah, have always been lovely. And now you are loved and wanted. You are part Maine Coon cat, so you’ve been rather chubby, but you wore it well. It also took me a while to find out which particular foods met your finicky needs. We finally settled on Friskies – but it had to be the seafood-flavored and it had to be the pate style. In times of dire emergencies, you would condescend to eat some dry Meow Mix.
As a dignified older lady, you rarely played or dashed around the house, although there were occasions when you were somewhat kittenish. Nothing prepared me for that day early this spring when you were staring out the screened porch, then suddenly turned around and hauled ass back into the house. Curious, I went to the place where you had been sitting and spotted the three baby bears followed by their mama who were walking out from under our porch. You are one smart kitty, my Leah. Had the dogs been up here then, they would no doubt have stupidly barked at the bears.
Speaking of dogs, I don’t know how much experience you had with dogs in your previous life, but you treated our two dogs with the proper disdain that all cats have for those of the canine persuasion. No butt sniffing was permitted. They received just the right amount of indifference that was called for.
Here’s a secret that you don’t know dear Leah. Nor does anyone else, but you were the inspiration for the series of articles I wrote for EatPrayVote regarding the antics of the Crafty Cat. When I wrote about Crafty, it was always you I pictured planning nefarious activities against Trump and his minions. What fun and joy that gave me and your small, but devoted following.
When you came to me, less than two years ago, I hoped to give you years and years of love, attention, and ear scratches to make up for the lost years. But that was not to be. We thought at first it was just an upper respiratory infection when I took you to the vet six weeks ago because you had stopped eating. The tests had all come back negative, so my veterinarian prescribed some medication to improve your appetite.
This month I took you to a different, nearby vet because you were still losing weight. He ran further tests and did an x-ray. Nothing showed up on these either, but for the first time the possibility of a tumor or cancer was raised. More medication for your appetite was prescribed. I kept hoping for the best. That it was just a virus that you were having a hard time shaking.
Last week I knew that was wrong. Although its been a number of years since I worked for vet, when I saw that the pupil in your left eye was totally dilated, I recognized this was not something that was just going away. I knew, in my heart, that it was only a matter of time. This was confirmed when I took you back to the vet and they said there was nothing they could do.
Since then I have been taking it day by day. Fortunately my daughter is a certified veterinary technician and has been able to give me helpful advice. But for the first time in my life, after working for two different Humane Societies and owning many pets, I found it so difficult to let you go.
There just hasn’t been enough time. It’s just not fair.
I am saying my final farewell to you now my beloved. Because now you are having trouble eating and are having to drag yourself up on the furniture. I can see it in your eyes that the time has come. The wonderful Dr. Ava is coming to our house to put you to sleep, surrounded by familiar settings and people who love you. And I don’t think I will be able to write this afterwards.
So your pain will end. Which is my final gift to you. But my pain will begin.