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My Cat
Jan 28, 2009 General Nonsense |
Soon after I started cartooning, about 19 years ago, I got my first pet, a kitten. I named her Sarah, after an editor who gave me my big break in cartooning.

I found the kitten from an ad in the paper. A local woman's cat had a small litter in need of homes. They were little tuxedo cats, mostly black with white paws and mixed faces. The woman put them on her sofa as sort of a line up from which I could choose. Three of the cats ignored me, walking to one end and playing amongst themselves. The fourth stared me straight in the eyes and approached. She selected me. Or at least that is how it felt. She made me feel special from the first second I knew her, and I hoped to return the favor.

Sarah bonded with me immediately. When I whistled, she would come running, climb on my chest in the Sphynx position and begin purring. She was a one-human cat. Rarely could another touch her without risking bloodshed.

Other cats came and went as my living situation changed. Sarah didn't care for any of them. She loved me intensely, and in her view no cat or human could compete. In time she became my office cat, to better avoid all creatures that were not me.

Every day since 1990 she competed with my work. When I picked up a pen, or lately a stylus, she would come running, yelling in cat language that I should pick her up and give her my full attention. She was my forced work break, and there were many. She was my only company for most of my day. Cartooning is a lonely art, but I was never alone.

Recently her tiny body started to shut down. But it never stopped her enthusiasm in seeing me. She dragged her arthritic body over to me every time I entered the room, even if I had only been gone for a second. She never failed to purr. I loved her intensely.

In the past month she had been letting me know the end was approaching. Maybe it was the way she moved or just some sort of animal ESP. I just knew. And so I spent as much time as I could with her, extra petting, in just the ways she trained me. Recent visits to the vet confirmed that there was no cure for old. We tried to enjoy the time we had.

Yesterday all of her systems reached their limits. The vet explained the options to my wife and me. I asked the vet what she would do in this situation if it were her cat. She wisely refused to say. I asked my wife. She wisely refused to say. This was my decision, and Sarah's. That is how it had to be. I looked at Sarah and asked her if she was ready. Her eyes told me she was, but the pain of uncertainty was unbearable.

Sarah had a history with the vet. Her chart had a big warning: She's a biter, and she has all of her claws. No one touched this cat safely but me. She was a vet's nightmare. And so the vet explained how this would come down. If Sarah allowed her leg to be shaved, and the injection to go in, without fighting, this would be the best alternative. Otherwise they would have to use some sort of cat gas chamber. That option seemed unthinkable. But it would be worse to try one method, fail, and go to the second. Again, it was my decision. And I was in no frame of mind to make decisions.

I opted for the injection, and hoped for the best. Sarah still had some fight left in her, as we learned minutes ago while the vet checked her vitals. But somehow she knew this was different. She knew it was time. After 19 years of fighting veterinarians, she let the vet shave her leg without the least resistance. And in so doing, she told me I made the right decision. I looked in her eyes as the life drained out of them. I was devastated.

But today I am happy, even more than usual. I think about how much Sarah enriched my life and I am grateful. I think about how much I learned from my relationship with her, and even from her passing, and I am thankful for it all. Today everyone in my life seems more precious. I'll always carry Sarah with me, and I know I am better for it.

 
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Jan 29, 2009
These are not the comments of a bona fide believer in the moist robot theory of free will. Welcome to the human race, playground of love, affection and other less pleasant emotions.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I have no idea what I'll do or what kind of a mess I'll be in if or when I have to make the same decision. She sounds like a very special cat, I’m sorry she’s gone.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go hug my dog.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I'm so sorry for your loss. I have a cat, Tess, who hates everyone but me and my wife. She didn't like my wife too much at first, either. It took her about six months. She mostly took out her frustrations on her sister, Bess, who's much more docile (and not as bright). Tess's file at the vet is stamped "Hostile," probably because they don't have a rubber stamp that says, "Armed and dangerous." Tess will soon be 17 and appears to be in excellent health except for some thyroid issues which are well controlled by medication, but I know she's closer to the end of her life than the beginning. Every day she's alive is a gift.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
Here's to Sarah!
 
 
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Jan 29, 2009
Makes me want a pet too! I am so sorry for your loss.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
This post was as sincere and endearing as when you discussed Freddie and his passing at the end "The Joy of Work" book. My sincerest condolences.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful pet she must have been.
Good Luck to you.
Sincerely,
Lolita
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
scott i cried and kinda missed your cat (which i knew nothing about) - best regards
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
Scott--you have my deepest sympathy on the loss of your Sarah.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I lost my 18-year-old cat a few years back, very similar experience, and his littermate the following year. You have my heartfelt sympathy, and your post about Sarah was a lovely tribute.
Best wishes, Scott.
Ginger
PS: www.petloss.com is a nice site where grieving pet owners find support, but it can be heart-wrenching to read people's stories.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I love little synchronicities like this. Today my wife and daughters are picking up our new cats at a pet store where they were placed by the Humane Society. It's a mother and son...9 months and 8 weeks old. Both just kittens really, and both a gorgeous charcoal color. Then today I read your post about Sarah...of all days for me to read a post like this. I'll interpret this to mean we'll enjoy our cats just as much as you enjoyed yours.

BTW...don't be afraid to get another office cat someday. You wouldn't be 'replacing' Sarah, and Sarah wouldn't be pissed about it. She'd want you to be happy with another feline companion.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
It's important to remember the pets that make your life complete. A story about a dog I found on the net called "The Worth of a Dog": http://sa.ndy.net/katie/
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
Caloric Iintake suppression doesn't work on cats. I have the ankle scars to prove it.

Take care Scott, you and Sarah are in our thoughts.
 
 
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Jan 29, 2009
Well expressed love.
 
 
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Jan 29, 2009
I always liked your posts that involved Sarah. She was a wonderful cat.

I am glad both you and Sarah are at peace.

><~~
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
Wow. I'm really sorry for your loss, Scott. My condolances.

 
 
Jan 29, 2009
Hi Scott,

Sorry for your loss. You must have taken good care of her. 19 is pretty old for a cat.
 
 
Jan 29, 2009
I hesitate to reply, actually, because I'm sure it's redundant, and because if you read every comment in this thread, you're probably the only person who will. But anyway, my office cat selected me over 8 years ago. This happened at the Hong Kong SPCA. She's since traveled with me to mainland China and lived in about a dozen apartments. It turns out she enjoys the change of scenery, unlike most cats I know. (I used to rearrange furniture in the US just to annoy my cats.) Now she's here with me in Thailand, 3 years and counting, lying on the edge of my computer as I type. She's sleeping. The computer fan is her friend.

In your truly excellent post about Sarah, which reminds me of the cat that I made this decision for, I noticed no physical description. I think you've done it in the past, and I might even remember what you wrote. My office girl is a calico. And you know, I felt happier after saying goodbye to little Pumpkin too. He wasn't the office type, but I'm better for having known him.

I love your writing.
 
 
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Jan 29, 2009
We knew too. It was some sort of weird ESP or the way you wrote "sick cat."

Cheers, for the joy. Being able to say thanks for the time is a gift, from them to you. Rest in peace takes on a whole new meaning.
 
 
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Jan 29, 2009
my sympathies
http://haikuguy.com/issa/haiku.php?code=026.14a
 
 
 
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