I should be posting about how I’m excited about a short Jezebel story that will be in the CARNIEPUNK anthology in August 2013. I should be posting about how page proof review went for BREATH and how the book will be coming out in April 2013. I should be posting about a whole bunch of things, like how my current project of rewriting a middle-grade story into a YA tale is going. But I’m not doing that. Instead, I’m going to post about coping.
My cat is 19 years old. She’s a beautiful shorthaired tortoiseshell, with what one co-worker once described as “moneycat” coloring along her front — all browns and blacks and whites. She’s been my constant companion for nearly 20 years. I’ve been living with her longer than I’ve been living with my loving husband. It actually took her about seven years to finally accept that she had to share the bed not only with me but with Loving Husband, and then another three before she allowed him to actually pet her. She’s been my lap cat for most of her 19 years. She fought her sister for the title of “alphakitty.” She’s been a scaredycat for most of her life, so she has perfected her hiss to prove that she really wasn’t scared at all. She was declawed at 2 years, the same time she was fixed, because at the time it was a choice of either her claws going or the cat going. She forgave me quickly (unlike her sister, who was rightfully pissed off for a long time). She spent her first night in our new house in the garage, when she followed me into it and I didn’t realize, so I shut the door behind me. She’s smashed crickets and chased bees. She’s the best damn lap cat ever. She used to “knock” on the covers to let me know that I should raise them up to let her get comfortable under the blankets in the winter. She used to snooze on my belly when I was younger, and she got annoyed with me when I was pregnant and no longer had a belly suitable for her to snooze upon. Her purr is a thing of magic.
My cat is dying.
She’s got a host of things that are whittling away at her — her hyperthyroidism is so high that it’s pegged off the charts, and her feline Alzheimer’s has gotten to the point where I can’t keep a door open without her wandering out. But the worst is her arthritis. She’s been walking stiff-legged for a long time now, but in the past few months, it’s gotten worse. She’s been on a pain reliever for a while, but just yesterday she was prescribed an opiate to help her cope.
Because the thing is, up until now, she’s been able to cope. The amazing thing about cats (and I guess dogs, but I’m a cat person) is they can roll with almost anything. If they’re upset (say, their primary food source gets married and now they have to share the house with another human), they let you know they’re upset (watch out where you step), but then they deal with it. If they’re in pain, they handle it.
But sometimes, they hide it. My cat has been hiding her pain. It was Loving Husband who saw how the cat was acting differently when she noticed I was there — actually bounding down the stairs, jumping up onto the table (and getting yelled at for it), being insistent when she was hungry. But without me there, she’s been dragging her back legs. She’s been dazed. And now, even I can see how uncomfortable she is.
I love my cat. I love her more than I can say. And I hate like hell that I’m preparing myself to say goodbye.
I don’t know how long the opiate will help her with her pain. I do know that the vet has promised to be loving and gentle when the time comes, and will give my cat the dignity she deserves. I do know that my Loving Husband will be right there with me when it’s time. I know that my sons will get a chance to say goodbye.
I don’t know if she knows how much I love her, and how I wish to God that I could take her pain away.
She’s coping. And for the moment, so am I.
So I’m not posting about writing today.
If you have an animal companion, please give him or her an extra hug for me.