My sable Burmese, Kitty Grumbles Dancie Paws, got her lethal claws firmly wrapped around my heart the first day that I saw her. She was at a cat show and was just so active and desperately wanted to get out of her hated cage and run and meet all the other kitties and people. She was just under a year old, and she definitely picked me out. It was love at first sight.
The next year when I went to the next cat show, I went with the intention of getting another Burmese like Kitty Grumbles Dancie Paws. But I saw a photo of a very beautiful silver cat, and I wanted her, and I couldn’t wait to see her in person. She was totally shy, and all I saw of her in the beginning was a silver flash as she sped across the floor. She was a blue Burmese and she seemed afraid of everything, until Kitty Grumbles Dancie Paws talked her ’round.
They were soon tumbling all over each other and having a fantastic time. Her name was Miskena, and it was so beautiful that I kept it. I added “Lady” because she sauntered around like a Southern belle, and “Midnight Marler” was added as she would wail as loud as she could, usually after midnight. No, I just can’t seem to limit myself to one name only. Us "non-furs" have more than one name, so why can’t kitties?
Do I have a favorite cat? Yeah, I admit it — Kitty Grumbles was way out ahead in that race. I love her friendliness, her playful spirit, her intelligence and her sauciness. She loves to go out for a walk on collar and light 30-foot leash. Why such a long leash? Her last two names are Dancie Paws because she loves to run! Sometimes she runs up my bare leg (ouch!), but she has me trained not to scream. Yes, she has all of her magnificent claws, and they are never trimmed. If I did that, I think she would pack up her litter box and head out to a new home where such indignities are not performed on cats. So I get a few scratches and the furniture gets shredded, and I don’t care as long as she is happy.
She will run when I ask her to if we cross a street; if she climbs up a tree she will always come down when I call her. She comes to me whenever I call for her and she totally loves to snuggle up in bed. She also taught Lady Miskena Midnight Marler to walk on a leash. Miskena isn’t comfortable being picked up, but she loves her tummy rubs.
Sauciness, yes, Kitty Grumbles is definitely great at that too — kind of like me. She will roll over to have her tummy rubbed and she will grab my arm with her teeth and give me a raking over with her hind claws. She bites hard enough to draw blood. All the while she is doing this, she is kneading her front paws and purring very loudly. Oh, well, what’s a little skin compared to her happiness? And she loves to sneak out into the hall and meet our neighbors … some of which are not cat lovers.
When my cats were only 3 years old, they both had to be sedated and have their teeth cleaned. The vet said that it was due to my not giving them more kibble. For the next year they ate the vet-recommended kibble. Then I moved and my new vet was shocked that I was only feeding them kibble. His comment was that they were carnivores and needed meat and fish in their diet. I had two extremely happy kitties who now got canned food and a "kibble buffet" with small bowls of 12 different kibble, plus treats. They were able to eat grass from outside and thrived.
Lady Miskena Midnight Marler had a cold in the spring. Then I noticed that she was losing weight, and I saw her speed away from a kibble bowl like a bee had stung her. I took her to the vet, who opened her mouth and showed me that the gum line close to her teeth was bloodred and the rest of the gum was bright pink. I cried, thinking of the pain that she must have been in, but the vet told me not to feel guilty because cats are good at masking pain. (In the wild, showing pain is a sign of weakness.)
The vet treated her gum infection for six weeks with antibiotics and pain medication, but it got worse. When I asked about a payment plan, she said that each bill had to be paid immediately. She told me to start saving up my money. (I later found out that Burmese, Siamese, and Persian cats are prone to this type of infection because they develop an allergy to the plaque on her teeth.)
By this time the vet bills were really high, and when you only get $1,000 a month to live on, that doesn’t go too far. Both of my cats had to be sedated to have their teeth cleaned, at the cost of more than $2,000. And now I was maxing out my credit card treating Lady Miskena.
The vet recommended sedating her and removing all of her teeth. But she would still have the infection — and pain — and would need an antibiotic shot every six weeks for the rest of her life. I couldn’t have made my beloved cat go through that, with every bit of gum being so painful when she ate. So I made the responsible decision to end her suffering. (If she could have been successfully treated and not been in pain, I would have begged, borrowed, or whatever else it took to get the money for her treatment.) I loved her so much; my decision was the only way to make her not suffer any more. I held her in my arms and softly told her that I loved her as she quietly drifted off to sleep.
My sister came and picked her up and buried her on her farm with my other dead kitty, Cinnamon, and her dog. She now has a pet cemetery where each animal has a stone bearing his or her name. There is a poem called "The Rainbow Bridge," which tells us that once our pets die, their spirit crosses over the bridge, where they are young and healthy, and they get to play with each other and are happy. I hope that I will get to join them all one day. I brought Lady Miskena home and let Kitty Grumbles sniff her, and that way Grumbles knew that she had passed on and that she wouldn’t have to go around looking for her. I feel broken inside because I love her so much. But Kitty Grumbles Dancie Paws and I are comforting each other now.
Connie Kennie lives in Kingston, Ontario. She is a former freelance photojournalist who is now a stay-at-home cat caregiver and watercolor artist.
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