Eleven years ago Loryʼs 21 year-old cat, Millie, died. She had survived cancer requiring brain surgery – she led her proverbial nine lives!
Carlyn was seven at the time of Millieʼs passing. After a few weeks without Millie we went to the Westport Shelter and Companion Animal Society in search of a kitten and Carlyn quickly discovered an adorable companion who she would name Calley.
She was eight weeks old, ready for a new home, and the three of us fell in love with her. The house was ready, and so were we. Each of us has stories about those first few weeks as Calley wasted no time in claiming her territory which included, one by one, every room in the house, including a tiny space beneath our Poland Spring water container!
I was not a ʻcat person,ʼ but little by little Calley purred and cuddled her way into my heart. She would wait for me to finish my morning cereal, jump onto the kitchen counter next to the bowl and nudge my right arm, as if I needed to be reminded to leave a little milk for her, which prompted a health-issue discussion about cats and milk.
A little research helped. A web site said, “Many cats enjoy milk, and this causes a dilemma for many cat owners who love to give their cat treats that they enjoy. While most cats are lactose intolerant, some are not. For these cats, milk as an occasional treat is fine. The only way to know how your cat will react to milk is to feed her some. If she does not develop diarrhea then it is safe to assume that she is not lactose intolerant, and you can continue to give her the treat she loves. Again, milk should never be given in place of food, but as a treat.”
Calleyʼs persistence won out. In the warm weather I love to have breakfast on the patio with the New York Times, and Calley would wait for me to open the door, purring to remind me to give her a morning treat.
Two months ago Calley stopped eating so we took her to the vet and a blood sample showed cancer cells. The vet said, “The humane thing to do is euthanize her now to avoid prolonged suffering.” We made an appointment but at the last minute we just couldn’t do it – we weren’t ready to let go. We got some medicine which brought back her appetite, to some degree, but she never really recovered.
Finally the day came, and we knew it was time – she could barely walk, and could no longer jump onto the couch to cuddle. There was only one thing we could do for her, though it was devastating to us. Lory and I held and petted her as the vet administered the medication to end her suffering.
Now, as I bring my near-empty cereal bowl in from the patio, I remember her with love.