It’s one of those things when you go into a shelter and you walk around and you look at all the animals and they all look back at you, some with keen interest and others with no interest at all and some who look defeated because all they have known for so long is a tiny cage with a litter box in the corner and if they are lucky a cell-mate to keep them company.
That’s how it was for Hank. Our beloved, and now gone, Mackerel Tabby.
I read in the classifieds that the cat shelter had two cats that had been there for over 2 years. They were the residents who had been there the longest. I quickly called to inquire and then went down to the shelter and I met Hank and his cellmate Shadow.
Shadow decided he should be a barn cat and moved in with the cows after a year or so. Hank however, was the cat who loved to be around people, just not on people, he loved to have the top of his head rubbed and where his tail met his back. His bottom would rise up longer than his legs but he loved that spot being rubbed on.
Hank had kidney problems when I got him, both cats did. He was estimated to be 3 years old, 2 of which were spent in the shelter. It took him weeks to finally come out of the back bedroom, and the first few days he stayed up high on a book shelf which made food and water interesting.
7 weeks ago though he became quite thin, weighing in at just over half of his normal weight I brought him to the vet, they tested him, and then a few weeks later tested him again. Not finding anything at all.
The last few days have been hard, he became incontinent, could no longer walk or use his back legs and would basically fall where you put him. No muscle control. When I picked him up on Saturday night he was so thin I could actually feel his different organs inside of him and he hollered at me for grabbing one by accident.
Today, Monday, I called and told the vet clinic it was time and they said okay. Hank had made such an impression on the clinic staff that one of the women actually cried knowing there was no hope. The kids gathered into the car, Hank swaddled and held like a baby with his eye filled with blood and we drove to the clinic. I walked him in and I sat down and held him, looked into his eyes that could no longer see back and I prayed for the family in the car who couldn’t bare to come in. I prayed that they would have strength, I prayed that their tears would stop. I prayed that they would be content in the knowledge that siblings in Heaven would now be watching over our beloved family member until we join him.
As I passed Hank off to the woman who works at the clinic he didn’t even realize he had moved. He was snug as a bug in a rug. After a few minutes of her cradling him like I had been, his incontinence came to life and Hank did the one thing that made a hard thing to do easier, he peed and didn’t even know it, right down this lovely ladies shirt and pants. I do feel bad for her, but she had been warned and it brought a smile to my face to think that even in his final moments his cattitude came through.
I picked an urn for him, one that best matched his coat. I walked out feeling better, free, that this cat was no longer suffering, my baby of 8 years who I bare many scars from is in a better place, no longer suffering and if I know him he is chasing around colorful birds and killing a Dachshund or two.
[Tweet “When you are 9 years old and your cat of 8 years passes away it is life altering”]
Those prayers were answered. When I returned to the car I still had children who had holes in their hearts but they also had peace. They wanted to know what he did in his final moments and too thought it funny that he peed on the poor girl!
Many people would say it was just a cat but when you are 9 years old and your cat of 8 years passes away it is life altering. Since the fall my children and I have dealt with the death of my Grandpa and his funeral, the death of our five hour old puppy and now the death of the guy who sat in the window everyday to wait for the school bus, the cat who didn’t want to be held but loved to be petted. The cat who held onto life for as long as he could because he knew they needed to be able to say goodbye.
Hank was one of God’s creatures. Perfect in every way.
Surprised by Motherhood
Tomorrow is the official release of Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker. It’s not another how to guide, its a book about mothers for mothers or for anyone who has a mother (that’s you). Lisa Jo never wanted to be a mother and this book is her journey into the mother of 3 that she is.
Surprised by Motherhood is Lisa-Jo’s story of becoming and being a mom, and in the process, discovering that all the “what to expect” and “how to” books in the world can never truly prepare you for the sheer exhilaration, joy, and terrifying love that accompanies motherhood.
Set partly in South Africa and partly in the US (with a slight detour to Ukraine along the way), Surprised by Motherhood is a poignant memoir of one woman’s dawning realization that being a mom isn’t about being perfect―it’s about being present.