Sunday, June 22, 2008

What Mama Kitty Taught Me

I lost my old Mama Kitty this week. How could such a little critter have such a big impact on my life? She was always small and in the end she weighed four scant pounds, but in life, her spirit was huge.

She was already full grown and had birthed several litters by the time I showed up in her life at the shelter where I used to work in 1994. Skittish and cautious, she was accustomed to life on the streets. Relying on people food and milk set out for her by the men in the shelter and what ever mice she happened to catch, I thought her size was due to lack of proper food.

Mama Taught Me Patience

When Mama had her last litter, she delivered three kittens. Only one survived. It drove me nuts that she was having one litter after another and contributing to the over population of feral cats roaming inner city streets. I became determined to get this cat off the streets and out of the kitten making business. But how? She wouldn’t let anyone come near her. Armed with cans of tuna fish, I began putting out small plates of it whenever she was near by. Eventually, she got used to seeing me and I could move the plate closer to me and sit near her while she ate. Finally, she allowed me to pet her. This made it possible to scoop her into a pet carrier and whisk her off to the vets where amazingly, she was given a clean bill of health. No fleas, worms, ear mites, nothing. After a round of vaccinations and an appointment to be spade, I took her home where she chose to hide in my closet.

Mama Taught Me Consistency Leads To Trust

Mama didn’t trust her new surroundings and so preferred to hide in the closet most of the time. Eventually, at night she would come out and hop onto the corner of the bed while I slept and curl up, only to jump down and run off to the closet again. She gradually over came her fears and began spending time out in the open and allowing me to pet her. Finally, she became accustomed to her new digs and took over the rule of the roost.

Mama Taught Me Stick Up For Myself When My Needs Weren’t Getting Met

Mama came to believe that she deserved to be loved and petted. She endeared herself to many a visitor to my home. I would have to warn them that if they began to pet her and stopped before she was ready, she would swat them and swat them she did. She wouldn’t use her claws but boy could she give you a good smack! Hard enough to make sound. She would also meow very loudly in order to get your attention if he food or water dish was empty. Many times I would pick up the dish to go fill it and she would chase behind me, swatting the backs of my feet and meowing as if to scold me for neglecting my duties.

Mama Taught Me That Sometimes Love Means You Have To Do The Hard Stuff

In her final weeks, Mama became weaker. I spent a lot of time with her just lying on my lap. Taking advantage of what little time we had left. She became thinner and weaker and each morning that I woke up to find that I had one more day with her was a gift. On her last day, I was sure that she would go on her own with in just a few hours but that was not to be. By early afternoon, it became clear that I was going to have to make the painful and difficult decision to call the vet and assist her on her journey. Those decisions are always tough. You spend time anguishing about whether or not it’s time, if it’s the right thing to do. Mama just seemed to hang on even though she couldn’t stand up. She didn’t seem to know where she was any more and was barely conscious.

My vet was very understanding and allowed me all the time I needed. That final ride was tough. I’ve had to take this ride before and it never gets easier, ever. I found my self reflecting on the parade of pets that have come through my life and how Mama was joining the ranks of the ones who are missed. I have a friend who was also considerably attached to Mama Kitty and he drove me to the vet’s office and then to drop her off to be cremated.

I hate it when it hits you that gone is gone. The realization always comes as a sharp pain. The day after Mama died, I heard a robin singing loudly outside. I went to the window and looked out. There it was on the neighbor’s fence looking up into the window I was looking out of and singing. I decided it was a singing telegram from Mama, a message that she had arrived safely at her destination and was happy in her new home. I will miss her for a long time but I believe I will see her again.

1 comment:

Lara Kretler said...

I am sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post to celebrate Mama Kitty and her importance in your life. You are so right - it never gets easier. Only time can help make it more bearable.