Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This is Squee.

She died of kidney failure last Friday.

Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. She was diagnosed with severe kidney failure last Friday. She died of the injection I paid the vet to give her since the only feasible way she was going to get better was with a kidney transplant.

I spent a lot of time crying. So did Mr. B. He’s man enough to admit that he cries, and it’s one of the things I love about him.

I'm going with you!

A week ago today, Squee was fine. She’d lost a considerable amount of weight, but the weight loss coincided with us allowing her to be an outdoor cat, which she had been determined to be her whole life. I remember her escaping at the townhouse, where I could have been evicted for allowing my cats outside, and struggling to convince her to get back in the house. It was a game to her—she would run to the next yard, and once I had left my yard, walked around to the neighbour’s gate, and carefully opened it, she would slip back through the fence into our own yard. Sometimes, this game would last for an hour.

Other times, she would watch you approach and allow you to pick her up with nothing more than an indignant meow before purring like a maniac.

So when she was suddenly skinny, we just assumed that she was more active and happier to be outside.

A week ago today, she was her usual inquisitive self. Some friends came over to pick up some cinder blocks from our driveway, and there was Squee, intent as ever to make sure that whatever humans came near her domain were aware of her and were her friends. She wanted to be everyone’s friend. And she insisted that everyone was her friend as well. She was one of the friendliest—and chattiest—cats that I’d ever met.

Squee gets all the cards and all the tokens and all the lovins too.

A week ago today, I distinctly remember her cruising around on our friend’s shoulder, only to climb to Mr. B.’s shoulder, as was her usual wont. When she was a kitten, my ex-boyfriend trained her to leap to his shoulder from the giant cat. When she was a kitten, she was never satisfied being held, she’d always scramble to your shoulder. And she was always looking out for higher ground. Sometimes higher ground was the top of a door, sometimes higher ground was my head, if she felt she could balance there. As she grew larger, she settled for the highest shoulder.

A week ago tomorrow, we realised that she wasn’t herself. She was really lethargic, and the way she meowed worried me. I resolved to take her to the vet the next day.

A week ago two days from now, I had to make what’s probably the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in my adult life so far. I choose to take her life and end her suffering, rather than draw out treatments that the veterinarian told me there was only the tiniest of chances she would recover from anyway.

Wednesday: fine. Friday: buried.
Just like that.

Squee and Alika, cuddling.

When I was sixteen, my mother got me a kitten. I named her Kazul, after a dragon in a series of YA books that I still adore re-reading. When I was nineteen and living on my own, I adopted my neighbour’s cat, only to discover that Lily wanted to eat Kazul. This was a problem since Lily was nearly twice Kazul’s size. So when a different neighbour was giving her kitten away, we did a bizarre swap where I took the young kitten (only five or six weeks old) and she gave away Lily, who was only six months old herself, to some other friends of hers. I got a tiny kitten that was less threatening than Lily, and the other people still got a friendly young cat. I named that kitten Alika.

A year later, Kazul died. She was always getting sick, and no one could ever tell us what was wrong with her. I could draw some parallels between how Kazul was right before she died and how Squee was, but the truth is, I have no idea what was wrong with Kazul. I was devastated. Kazul was my first pet ever.

Squee and Gollum, doing their best impression of a yinyang.

Later that year, Alika gave birth to a litter of kittens. I gave the kitten that I wanted to keep for myself to my mother, thinking that way I’d still be able to hang out with him. I found a home for the other two kittens, only it turned out that one of those homes was only going to be temporary and the girl was going to be leaving the country in less than two years. I couldn’t in good conscience give her a kitten knowing he would be abandoned a short time later. I wasn’t able to find another home for him, and that’s how I ended up with Gollum.

When I got my pet rat, I asked for a rat, and the lady at the pet store said ‘here’. There was a whole bunch of them, but instead of being offered a choice, it was made for me. And, you know, Nez was great, so there’s no complaint there.

When we got our puppy, it was a stroke of luck. We found out about some Rottweiler/blue heeler puppies that were being given away for free. By the time we found the number and called, there was one left. So we took her.

I love all my pets dearly, and the fact that I didn’t get to pick Kazul, Alika, Gollum or Sunday from a litter or a pound doesn’t change how much I love them. I adore all my pets intensely, past and present, regardless of how I came by them.

Basket cat....

But there’s something to be said for taking the trip intentionally, knowing that you are going to have to choose one adorable kitten over another adorable kitten. That’s exactly what I did in order to get Squee. After Kazul died, but before I knew Alika was pregnant, I decided I wanted another kitten. I thought Alika might like the company. So I found someone who was giving away kittens, got a friend to drive me (and it was nearly an hour to find this place), and then I sat and played with a whole litter of kittens. I was the first person to see them. It was difficult, and I was there for nearly an hour—fortunately the guy and my friend were both patient with me—before I realised that Squee was THE kitten I had to take home with me.

It’s not that losing her is more upsetting than losing any of my other pets has been or would be. There’s just this strange added something to that loss—knowing that she was the one I had to have, she was the choice I made—and now she’s gone forever.
I was expecting years of watching Sunday licking her ears inside out. Years of her meowing at me when I poked her belly or touched her paw. Years of her insisting that she was more interesting than the laptop or whatever book I was reading. Years of watching guests nearly jump out of their skin when she decided to jump from the floor to their shoulder with no warning. Of hearing her victory meow when she caught her pink mouse in the middle of the night. Of her waking me up by purring next to my head. Of her co-opting bags and clothes to sleep on.

All the times I didn’t bother to search for the camera because I was expecting years more in which to catch her doing whatever it was again.

These were some of the moments I wasn't too lazy to catch.

June 2001 - May 29, 2009


Chandra Rooney said...

Somehow I completely missed knowing anything about this. So I was all "nuh uh, Squee played lap cuddle last time I was at your house."

I'm so sorry, Sarah. :(

Sarah K said...

Ya, me too.

I'm happy for everyone who didn't have to see her when she was sick though. It's better to think of her when she was healthy.

JQ said...

Awe Squeekers. What a little ball of character. I know in my heart she is chasing little pink mouse-ies in the ever after.

I imagine having to make that difficult decision for Chiaro or Buddy and it instantly paralyzes me with tears. I keep telling myself that when I adopted them I took on all this responsibility beyond just feeding and watering, vaccinating and walking...all the daily stuff. That some day I will be faced with decisions like these and will have to step up for their sake. I always hope, and sometimes take for granted that they will grow old and grey and pass away peacefully in their sleep. But seems after writing all this that I spend a great deal of time obsessing over worst case scenarios...I'm rambling.

I did that on your phone the other day while leaving a message as well. Oops. I was chastised by the obnoxiously pink cell phone which rudely cut me off telling me I had used up all my time.

I heart you and miss you muchly Bella.


Meghan said...

Although I already knew of Squee's passing this tribute made me teary eyed. I'm so sorry for your and Mr. B's loss. You write beautifully of her and she will be missed.xo

Bailey said...

Bevin here.

I'm so sorry, Sarah and Mr. B. Many {{{{{hugs}}}}} to you both. :(