Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grief and Baby Sweaters

I was doing great yesterday and today *bleah*. I could barely crawl out of bed! I kept hearing Mommie all night. I'd hear her clicking into the room as her extra toes caught on the carpet. I heard her questioning meow. I woke up scratching her head and ears--but it was only the teddy bear.

To assuage my grief, I'm knitting and working. However, I don't want to finish my berry bag. I think it has something to do me working on it while Mommie was dying...or maybe I don't want the reward of finishing the bag while I'm grieving for Mommie...or even that being done with the bag is like being done with Mommie.

So, instead, I'm knitting baby sweaters for charity. I work with Chris Coble. He and Lori lost their kids in a car accident last spring. The amazing news is that Lori is having twins in May. I'm kicking around the idea of making three sweaters for their babies. In Berrocco Comfort. I may go with Rosebud, Peche, or Buttercup for the girl sweaters and Military Mix for the boy sweater. (I know, these colors are not neutrals, but why should I resist yarns named "Rosebud" and "Buttercup"?)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Story of Cat

Ten years ago I dated a man who, after his divorce, moved in with his parents with his two young daughters. I think he needed the comfort of family and wanted his girls to have the positive female influence his mom could provide.

The family had a large yard that was inhabited by a multiplicity of feral cats. Most of them were white, scruffy-looking things. They had no interest in human company and would, in fact, scatter at the hint that a human was thinking about going into the yard. The B’s didn’t want the feral cats to starve, so they put a plate of kibble on the patio every evening—first come, first served.

One day, as I was sitting on the patio, I spied a tabby kitten with a sweet white bib and white kitten toes.

I figured it would be great to adopt this young cat. I imagined watching TV in the evenings with the grateful tabby curled on my lap, purring contentedly.

I brought a cardboard box over to the B’s, ready to be a pet owner. I figured that capturing the kitten would be as simple as scooping it up and putting it in the box. So I put the box on the patio, reached out to grab the kitten and YOW! I got a faceful of growl. I was terrified by this thing that was probably less than 1% of my body weight.

Papa B wasn’t about to be thwarted.  He cornered her and scooped her into the box.  The box came alive with fury but I carried it to my truck anyway.

The box bumped and lurched with anger as I drove the few short miles home.  I was grateful that I'd bought a bag of kitty litter so I could weigh it down.

When I got home, I set the box in my living room.  I knew I had to open it, but I was afraid of being savaged.  I got a broom and gently nudged the lid open.  POW!  The box exploded and a lightning bolt of tabby streaked around the living room, into the dining room, into the kitchen and UP onto a basket on the kitchen counter.  I approached warily as two golden eyes glared at me from the safety of the basket.

I decided to leave well enough alone.  I put out a dish of food, a dish of water and a cat box.  I wondered, "What have I gotten myself into?"  But I loved this little feline too much to let her go the way of her littermates--eaten by coyotes or run over by cars.

And so our adventure began.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My kitty is dead. I can hardly breathe. I hear her questioning meow. I woke up this morning and she wasn't there. She's a pile of ashes now. All I have left are memories and a scrap of fur.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Letting her go

Today is the day I'm putting Mommie to sleep. She's thin as a rake and her charming personality is gone. She sleeps and eats. She took weak to jump off the bed. I had to put a disposable catbox on the corner of the bed.

I don't know why she's dying. I only know that she is. I've tried antibiotics, steriods, and subQ fluids for 5 days. And she's getting thinner every day. I'd be a complete jerk to deny it and continue to "hope" she'd get better.

I've kept her around because I didn't want to feel guilty about putting her to sleep and because I didn't want to face the pain of her loss. I'm old enough to know that nothing can take her place.

A phone call from the vet confirms that she has e. coli. Damn. Mommie always has been a trash picker. But it's my fault she got to the trash. The guilt is overwhelming and my heart is broken. I feel like coming completely unraveled.

Friday, March 21, 2008


My beautiful girl
Mommie Cat is nearing the end of her shelf life. I want to write about her before I put her to sleep because I can't stand the thought of writing about her in the past tense. I want to write about her alive, not dead.

Mommie is a black and white cow cat who is confident in her own beauty. When I think of her, I picture her sitting with her white chest out, whiskers forward, absolutely confident that she is beautiful and irresistibly petable. And yet, she meows like a junkyard cat—a really, grating, disagreeable alley cat sound.

She is a mask and saddle cat. I love that her black ears are sugar-frosted with wisps of white. From the front, she appears to be mostly white. From the back, she appears mostly black—a solid black tail with little wisps of white. Her front legs are marked with black spots. It looks as though the spot starts on one leg and continues to the other. Her best marking is a black, heart-shaped patch over her heart--my black-hearted girl. Her fur is extremely fine and soft and shiny.

I also love that she’s a polydactyl—front and back. I sometimes call her my pterodactyl.

Although she can really talk trash, she is extremely gentle. I’ve sometimes had to give her eye medication or trim her polydactyl nails and she just doesn’t scratch.

She’s my only cat who is a greeter. When my other cats hear someone walking up the steps, they scatter and hide—but not Mommie. She always greets me when I come home from work, either sitting near the front door or howling at me from an open window. She always presents herself to my infrequent visitors. She wants them to have the opportunity to admire her extreme beauty.

She is an amorous girl. She doesn’t like to sit in my lap or to be held, but she loves to be petted—especially her neck, shoulders, and behind the ears. She puts her whole head into my hand and sometimes nuzzles my palm to awaken me for “the petting.” Because she enjoys it so much, I call it “heavy petting.”

Mommie showed up on the patio of my Costa Mesa apartment in the Spring of 1998 with her five feral kittens: two black and white polydactyls, two black polydactyls, and a tabby. She presented her kittens with pride, whiskers up, her tail like a little flag. She spent the afternoons sitting in the sun on my patio chair while her kittens slowly destroyed every plant in my garden.

Over the course of a month, I worked to tame her kittens. At first, when I would open the door to the patio, the kittens would scatter. Mommie would remain on the patio chair, smiling in the sun. Bit by bit, the kittens grew accustomed to my presence.

I borrowed a large dog kennel from the Irvine animal shelter and captured the kittens. I kept Mommie and her kittens in the kennel at night but let them roam my bedroom during the day. As soon as the kittens would tolerate being handled, I gave them to a kitten adoption agency. I’d planned to give all of the kittens away, but Mommie howled and HOWLED with grief when I separated her from the kittens. So I kept her tabby kitten, named him Tommie and he’s lived with me, Mommie, and Cat for nearly 10 years. Tommie nursed on his Mommie for nearly 4 or 5 months, until he was almost the same size as her.

In 2000, the cats and I made the move to my condo in Aliso Viejo. It was a smooth transition and we settled into our new home nicely.

Mommie sleeps in a lot of places, but mostly she sleeps on my bed. Sometimes, she even sleeps on my pillow. The sound of her purring through the nice is extremely comforting.

I love that she is my cuddly cat, the cat that wants to be near me, the one who wants to be petted. She, more than my other cats, is my companion. When I’m home, Mommie is always within arm’s reach, except when I’m in the kitchen.

She loves to drink from a sports bottle of water and is an avid junk food eater. She assumes that any food in the house is up for grabs. Many times I’ve been watching TV and eating chips, left the room, and come back only to find a black and white cat butt sticking out of my bag of chips. She loves to eat melon—especially watermelon and cantelope. And, probably from her feral days, she's an avid trashpicker. She cheerfully pulls anything and everything interesting from the trash for midnight feasts.

She loves riding in the truck. She likes it if I hold her in my arms as we’re driving down the road. She looks out the window and the wind ruffles her fur.

Terms of EndearmentMommie Lou, Mommieness, M-O-M, Mommie ManyToes
My Girl
Mommieskin Rug
Wicked Little Girl
Naughty Girl
Tiny girl
Big girl (Great BIG Girl)

A Nonsense Song I Sing to Her
Mommie Lou
I love you
I really do
Oh Mommie Lou

You’re the best
In the west
Oh Mommieness

I love you
I really do
Oh MommieMew