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As we all travel down our own personal highways of life, road signs often present themselves to us, guiding us in the direction that we need to be going in, should we decide to heed their advice. Somehow, I missed the sign that said, “Life Changing Detour Ahead”. Either that, or someone forgot to put the sign out. Reflecting back over the last few weeks, I saw the sign. I just didn’t expect to come upon the detour quite so quickly. I had planned on making an entry last week, but this certainly isn’t what I had in mind.
With great sadness, I had to make the decision to have one of my Clan O’Kitties put down on Thursday. Within hours, my week went from going well, to truly heart wrenching. I knew that the time was coming for Shorty, by certain behaviors that I have seen all of my animals exhibit, shortly before their health started to deteriorate. However, she was still shaking the house with her earth moving purring, and I thought that she still had time on her side. I was wrong.
Shorty was my Maine Coon cat, a black, brown, and white beauty, with big green eyes that would just suck you right in. Give her five minutes, and you’d be wrapped around her paw. At 16 ½ years of age, she still acted like a feline that was many years younger. And with thirteen pounds packed on to her frame, she made a presence that you could not long ignore. From hearing, and feeling her trot down the hallway before seeing her, or having her crush in my chest as she went to lay on it for some one on one time, you couldn't help but notice her.
Shorty came to me in early 2003, along with her mother, Miss Piggy, who passed away in January 2006. A friend of a friend was going through a divorce, and needed to find a home for her kitties. Beser was my only cat, and I thought it might be nice for her to have some company. What I hadn’t been told beforehand, was that of the four kitties in need of a home, one was a mother/daughter pair, and the other was a mother/son pair. As they were all older cats, there was no way that I could bring myself to split up a family. Yeah, I’m like a Charms Blow Pop. A hard outer shell, with a soft, chewy center. After taking on Nixie at the age of 16 in 2004, I became known as the ryan Cheney Home for Geriatric Kitties. *chuckle*
To some people, animals are just animals. To others, they are like members of the family. For people like myself, they are something far more. On more than one occasion, my Better Half has commented on how much she enjoys watching me interact with the kitties. After much observation and interaction, the kitties and I have developed a definite connection, and bond. Which made it all the more painful, when I had to make the decision to put her down.
Treatment was not an option. As I spent time with her in the hours before taking her to the vets for her appointment, I found that she was neither eating, or drinking. To attempt treatment would have only prolonged her suffering. Remarkably, after a series of poking and prodding, and up until a few moment before the Doctor came in to do what she had to do, Shorty was still purring away. But she knew it was her time. And she accepted her fate gracefully, not even so much as a flinch when the Doctor inserted the needle.
The days since her passing have not been easy. Even though I try to focus on other things, my mind always finds its way back to Shorty. Memories of the past come flooding through, and thoughts of what will no longer be. No more of her meeting me at the door, after coming home from a 12 hour work day. No more of her laying sideways across my stomach, with her big paws stretched out. No longer will she be party to cornering me on the couch along with Nixie and Beser. Shorty would secure the left flank, Nixie, the lap, and Beser would commandeer the right arm of the couch. Pinned in, I could do nothing but offer attention, and affection. I will no longer need to clean out the soap dish after taking a shower, just to watch her stand on her hind legs in the bathtub, with her front paws on the edge of the tub, and lick the water out of the empty soap dish. Yes, she had me trained well. It was the last thing I did, before shutting the shower off. Never again will I see her sitting on the toilet seat, and watching me as I get dressed for the day. Nor will I have one of her big paws pat my face, saying, “Pay attention to me!”, a habit that she picked up from Nixie.
They say that time heals all wounds. This one’s gonna take awhile. All of my critters have meant a great deal to me, but there was just something different about Shorty. You could tell just by looking into those big, green eyes. She will be missed deeply. But life goes on, and so must I. I have Beser and Nixie to tend to. At 19 ½, Nixie is in her golden years, and I have to make the most of the time that we have left with each other.
Rest in peace, Shorty. May you have felt as much, if not more love, as I feel blessed to have had you as a part of my life. Until we meet in my dreams, or on the other side.
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