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12/24/2007
“GOODBYE, PRETTY GIRL”
CATEGORY: Blogging, General

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Not the best picture of Ebony

I told my Ebony that about 15 minutes before my friend of 16 years took her last breath.

She never tired of me calling her a “pretty girl.” As I would repeat the endearment over and over, her face would scrunch up in pleasure and she would purr loudly. She connected the same way if I repeated her name again and again. In the end, she couldn’t purr anymore, but her last hours were filled with emotion and pathos nonetheless.

The last few weeks had seen a change in her behavior. She was more demanding of attention, more vocal. She would actually jump on the back of my computer chair and butt her head against my shoulder if I didn’t drop everything and pet her, tickle her.

And then about a week ago, she simply began to disappear for long stretches of time, coming out only to nibble on some food and drink some water. She was under the bed or behind the couch, content to lie there for most of the day and sleep.

Then on Thursday, I went out in the morning to make some coffee and lo and behold, lying in the middle of the kitchen floor directly in front of the coffee pot so that I couldn’t miss it was a very dead mouse. And five feet away, lying on the floor and cleaning herself proudly was Ebony. I gave her some catnip and stroked her lovingly.

I didn’t see her again until late last night when she began a pitiful series of cries. After a few of those, Sue and I decided to move the couch and find out what was wrong. When we pulled it away from the wall, she was lying on her stomach, face down and obviously in bad shape.

Her breathing was very shallow and she was very weak. She couldn’t hold her head up. She trembled and she was very cold. We both knew then that the end was very near.

We laid her on her cat bed. Sue had some heating paks left over from when she had surgery so she heated those up in the microwave and placed them on top of the warm blanket we threw over her. We spoon fed her a little of her favorite food which she enjoyed immensely. The heat seemed to ease her breathing. And then, the death watch.

How do you say goodbye to a friend? For all the cats I have been possessed by, I had never gone through this. Previous kitties had been stolen or more likely killed by a car or captured by some family despite the tags I had on them. A couple of long time companions I had to give to friends when I moved to a new place that didn’t allow pets. But with all the cats I’ve loved, I never had to sit by and watch one as they died.

We talked to her constantly and stroked her continuously. Every once and a while, she would reach out and grab one of our hands and pull it tight to her chest, vigorously licking our fingers - an act that would make both of us dissolve in tears. She would also occasionally raise her head and look at me right in the eyes, reaching out her paw as if to touch my face. The effort would cause her to tremble and shake and she would fall back, resuming her struggle to keep breathing.

Her breathing got shallower and quicker. She slept a bit. I kept telling her goodbye but I think after a few hours, she couldn’t hear me. Her eyes were already glazed over and barely open. Then I dozed off briefly. When I awoke, she was gone.

Everyone owned by a cat has stories of their magic, their feats of athleticism, their maddening aloofness. My Ebony was no different. She was an extraordinary athlete who loved the outdoors, a tremendously attentive and loving mother, an affectionate and hugely entertaining companion. She had that cat sense of knowing when you needed company and when to avoid you. But mostly, she had that otherwordly sense of how best to fit in to my life, to be awake when I was awake and recognize the rhythms of my day.

Our other cats sense our loss and are depressed this morning. We have made a special effort to pay attention to them, to reassure them. Aramas, Ebony’s son and lover, is especially upset, walking around aimlessly and looking at us pitifully. He and the little one are now asleep and I hope they stay that way until after the burial.

Our Christmas season is darkened somewhat by the death of my friend. But we had been expecting the end for many months as her physical condition deteriorated. To have it happen early morning on Christmas eve was very sad. We had just trimmed the tree on Saturday night and were laughing about how Ebony would take up her accustomed spot, lying for hours on end on the stand cover underneath the tree, the colored lights reflecting off her shiny coat giving her a weird glow.

Instead, we will simply remember her and all that she gave us and thank her for being our friend.

By: Rick Moran at 10:42 am
16 Responses to ““GOODBYE, PRETTY GIRL””
  1. 1
    aric Said:
    11:51 am 

    My condolences, I have lost both cats and dogs over the years and it hurts like losing a member of the family because that is what they are. Please resist the urge to punch the first jackass that says ‘what’s wrong, it was only a cat’.

  2. 2
    Mike Said:
    12:27 pm 

    You must be a terrific writer. I’m sitting here crying over the death of a cat that I couldn’t care less about…I don’t even like cats. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  3. 3
    Butch Said:
    12:38 pm 

    I can understand your grief cause I have had to put 3 of mine down this year and it hurts but you live with the greatest memories you can ever have

  4. 4
    borderbum Said:
    1:34 pm 

    So Sorry Rick,

    It is amazing how attached we become to our animal friends. I think the older we get the more difficult it is to see them pass away or to have to put them down.
    I’ve wept for several dogs and cats myself.

    The memories of them live on though.

    I know it will be a little less Merry around your home this Christmas season so I’ll just say Best Wishes to you all.

  5. 5
    B.Poster Said:
    4:11 pm 

    Rick

    I’m very sorry to learn about your loss. From reading your writing for the last few years, I have felt like I have gotten to know yo and I think of you as a friend. You have lost a member of your family. I’m deeply saddened to learn about this.

  6. 6
    Jeff B Said:
    5:27 pm 

    Aw, damn, Rick. I’m real sorry about this, and I know how you must feel. Been there, done that, as they say.

    http://jbontherocks.blogspot.com/2006/09/rip.html

    Time helps, and the lousy feeling fades into nothing but good memories.

    Hang in there.

  7. 7
    Dave Said:
    6:18 pm 

    I’m so sorry, Rick. We’ve been through the same thing 4 times in the past, and it seems to get harder every time. Every time we lose one of our furry friends, I swear we’ll never get another as the pain is too much to bear. Every time, we end up with another one; the joys outweigh the pain.

  8. 8
    GW Said:
    8:33 pm 

    My condolences on your loss. And you have composed an elegant eulogy.

  9. 9
    Zim Said:
    12:57 am 

    Sorry Rick

  10. 10
    The New Centrist Said:
    11:47 am 

    Rick, my condolences. I know how much love pets bring into folks lives. Take care.

  11. 11
    Melanie Said:
    5:55 pm 

    My condolences for the loss of your beloved pet. :(

  12. 12
    Pam Said:
    10:43 am 

    I know it hurts and words don’t always help to comfort, but for what it is worth, I am so very sorry. I lost my dog after 16 years a few years back and never thought I’d get over it. They are truly the best friends one could have.

  13. 13
    busboy33 Said:
    5:27 pm 

    My condolences.
    May the mice in Heaven be fat and slow
    May the catnip fields always be in season
    May the sun shining thru God’s window always land on the perfect napping spot

  14. 14
    Phil Said:
    11:03 am 

    My cat has been my best friend for 13 years. I dread the day you describe. I am so sorry.

  15. 15
    clarice Said:
    1:33 pm 

    Oh, Rick, I just saw this and am filled with sorrow. A few months ago we got our very first cat and love her so much that the thought of her passing before we do is too sad to think of.

  16. 16
    Gayle Miller Said:
    4:03 pm 

    Rick, my dear: I didn’t see this until today but I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Because I’m sitting here in this very proper law office with tears running down my face.

    My little Rocky was diabetic and at age 15 he flimflammed the vet into letting him come home from the hospital. That night he slept with me as always and sometime during the night, his little heart just stopped. He was the sweetest creature I have EVER known.

    His littermate BooBoo managed to survive another 3 years (spoiled ROTTEN) until it became clear that his organs were shutting down, at which point I took him to the vet where his suffering was quietly ended. I was holding him the entire time.

    I swore I’d never get another cat again.

    Then, quite by chance (I really was looking for a desk for my apartment) I spotted an ad: Free to good home! I went to the house and there was Sam. 16 months old and in his 3rd home - where they didn’t want him either. His first home - he’d been abused. His 2nd home - he’d been ignored and was basically a street kitty. Nobody had ever even given him a name. And I don’t think he, justifiably, thought much of humans. My heart absolutely turned over in my chest and suddenly all prior resolutions were inoperative.

    Sam is now 6, utterly pampered, deeply loved, completely spoiled, GORGEOUS. He is intolerant of visitors to my house since he wants me and only me and all the time if possible. There are a few humans he TOLERATES but with me - he is the most devoted, protective and loving cat you can imagine, despite his nickname “Jaws”. He is a (mostly) Maine Coon cat, weighs now 28 very muscular pounds and would tear anyone who threatened me to shreds. And at night he sleeps with me, curled as tightly against me as he can manage, sound asleep and purring most of the time. And yes, it is a love affair of sorts.

    I do not understand people who don’t like pets, cats in particular. Do they not understand why we have cats and dogs? They are to give us a slight hint of the kind of love God gives us unbidden. Your Ebony will be waiting for you some day and when you arrive at your ultimate destination, she will be able to TALK and tell you how much you meant to her. I fully expect to encounter Boo and Rocky and eventually Sam and I will tell them again, as I always have, how much they enhance my life.

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