The last blog—my guitar one—was supposed to go up today. I had it ready, all Pam had to do was embed the video and click PUBLISH, as we usually get more traffic during the week. I moved that one up because I wanted friends and fans to see something happy over the weekend, rather than just go silent. Because, although I thought last week couldn’t get any lousier, Saturday morning it did. Pam woke up to find Shadow, who’s been with me 18 years, having pretty obvious issues. Issues that she told me warranted calling the vet, see about getting her an appointment. Issues the vet said sounded like she should be taken over to the animal hospital. Issues that, I hate to say, turned out to be bad enough that Shadow’s 9th life came to an end Saturday afternoon. =^..^=
I came down to Florida with Midnight, who’d been with me a couple of years. When I got to Miami, I’d learned in advance they were forming a softball team. I showed up and two days later made the first practice. Between softball, starting a new job, getting home late because I had to get things taken care of (internet hooked up, car paperwork, the usual tide of red tape moving entails), I wasn’t home a whole lot. So, after having to take Midnight into the vet, I noticed that they had a large cage at the front of the office with six kittens in it. Tiny things, couldn’t have been more than a couple weeks old. After I took Midnight home, I decided to go back. One kitten in particular paid attention to me. The vet’s assistant was suddenly by my side.
“Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy.”
“That’s what we’re calling them. It was a litter of six that got dropped off. So we named them after the Brady Bunch.”
“What’s going to happen to them?” I asked.
“Well, we’re going to try our best to adopt them out, but…” shrug. She didn’t want to say anything negative. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show up at my new apartment with six more cats. But, as you probably guessed, I did the best I could.
“That one. What do I need to do?”
The adoption was free, I just had to give them money for the fixing, which they’d do when the time came. Shadow was (allegedly) six weeks old. Juuuuust old enough to adopt out. But, no one really knew, and it turned out not to be true. I took Shadow home that afternoon to introduce to Midnight, so Midnight would have a friend to play with in our new home.
Midnight, of course, wanted none of it. I often referred to him as a rug ornament. So, introducing a kitten into the mix? He wanted nothing to do with her. It’s Saturday (this was well before Caturday became popular). I go out to get some shopping done. I come home, and find Shadow, who fit in the palm of my hand with plenty of room to spare, laying on the floor, not in the little box they gave me, which I’d left on the countertop. Shadow’s on her side, back legs not moving, pawing with only her front paws. The animal clinic? Closed. At first, I thought Midnight had tangled with her, and knocked her off the counter, crippling her. It was not good. I scooped her up, put her back in the box, built a wall around the box with 2 liter soda bottles, and for the next two days, held food up to her mouth so she could eat, and held her head over a Styrofoam bowl so she could drink. I lined the box she was laying in with paper towels, and let her go in it when she had to, cleaning it and repeating the process as necessary, desperate for Monday, when the vet opened up again.
When I called, the vet said she seriously doubted my account was accurate, told me to bring her in as soon as I could. I won’t lie, especially because it doesn’t matter now, but I took a rather long lunch that day. Something like two and a half hours. Brought her in and said, “Doc, this is bad. My cat’s got two bum wheels.”
The doc checked her out (she was still Cindy at the time), and told me that it was probably a reaction to the shots they’d given her right before I’d picked her up. She didn’t think the cat was any more than four weeks old—if that—so told me, “Listen, go home. Nothing you can do, and nothing you did wrong. My bet is, couple of days, she’s going to be up and running around and this will all pass.” Me, of course, a stranger in town with no experience with this vet, had a hard time believing that. After all, two days after I’d arrived at my new job, the car I’d moved down with gave up the ghost. Not even worth fixing. Not that I had the money to do it, anyway. It hadn’t been a great few months since leaving home in New York. But, I didn’t have a choice. So, I listened to the vet, went home, and agonized for the better part of the week. What if the cat had been crippled. I couldn’t run home every day to hold the cat over the bowl to eat and drink. I didn’t even know what would happen if the cat couldn’t be her catty self any more. But, I had my suspicions, and somewhere deep down, knew that it wouldn’t be good. They don’t make wheelchairs for cats.
Luckily, the vet was right. Midnight hadn’t knocked Shadow off the counter, then dragged her across the apartment in a cat-on-cat struggle before snapping her in two. The cat had reacted badly to a shot, had been numbed for a couple of days, but turned out to be all right. I had her back by the end of the week, all excited, eager to run around, everything I’d seen in her that first day in the big cage with her five brothers and sisters. (Happy note: all of whom got adopted out.)
Cindy became Shadow because 1) I am not a big Brady Bunch fan, and 2) I already had Midnight, a black cat that had been nameless when I got him. Cindy was a tiny black kitten, and was supposed to be Midnight’s playmate. Shadow came to me while thinking about possible names, and I knew the second I thought of it, that was it. It fit perfect. When she did try to follow Midnight around, you’d have thought they were the same cat in different sizes. And, while Midnight never truly became a playful cat, the two did get along. Eventually, they’d both hop on the bed and sleep with me. When Pam moved down, they got to tolerate Luna, and on many a night, all three of them were on the bed with Pam and I. Just like the vet said, it all worked out.
‘Til Saturday. I shouldn’t bitch about getting 18 years together. I know I shouldn’t. When Midnight ran out of lives, I had no idea how old he really was. His first two owners had both died in a short period of time. Being a black cat with that on his record didn’t exactly make people come running to adopt him. So I did. Midnight was with me for 15 years. At the time, a third of my life. Shadow was with me even longer. Needless to say, it’s tough saying goodbye, even though I knew she was getting up there. And so another member of my family, as close as if by birth, crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
A lot of stuff happened last week to make the week as bad as it was. I won’t even try to go into it all. But just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse? It did. Unlike the last time, I haven’t been online, looking at ARC, and preparing to open up our home again to whoever needs it next. This time, I’ll wait. Maybe there’s a cat out there who loves to play with dogs, so that when Mouse runs over, she isn’t always disappointed. Maybe it’s a small pooch in the same boat who needs a forever home. I don’t know. That’s the thing about four-legged family. You never do. But I do know this: something’s coming, it’s just a matter of who, and when. Because even though Shadow was pretty quiet, there’s a hole here that isn’t going unnoticed. I just hope that fate presents us with a critter who’s going to make the new Midnight and Mouse a happy trio. They both deserve a new friend. And to be as lucky as I got with my first couple of cats. Meow, Shadow, Meow. =^..^=
Currently listening to: “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode.