Monday, June 20, 2011
Sad, sad news. Auntie Stinkie being helped to the Bridge tonight.
Auntie Stinkie has fallen gravely ill. She is in complete and irreversible renal failure. We have made the decision that she counts on us to do and she will be helped to the Bridge tonight at 5:30 p.m. The vet will come to the house and help our dearest girl to join other legendary cats that have come before. Our hearts are breaking, but as I write this, Auntie Stinkie is thanking us for being brave enough to let her go. She is very tired and very weak.
I wanted to tell you the story of how she came to live with us, before I can’t muster any more thoughts. Some of you may have read a little bit about this before in an older post, but it helps me to focus on the incredible miracles of animal and human interaction:
In 2003, I visited my husband-to-be at his home in Oregon. He and I sat in the summer night watching the stars. Suddenly a raspy “Waah! Waah!” sounded from the dark. A very petite shadow of a cat was visible. I could see large patches of fur were missing and she was extremely thin. She looked like a stray alley cat.
My fiance said, “That’s the neighbor’s cat Stinkie. I call her my mailbox friend because she walks down to the end of the road with me while I open up the mail.” We petted her and talked with her a bit and that’s all I saw of her for a couple of months.
After I moved in, Stinkie began to visit us. She would typically run up to greet me when I got home from work with a “Waah! Waah!” She had a LOT to say. There was a dog who made her life miserable; her owners fed her food she was allergic to; no one paid her any attention. How did I know she was allergic to her food? Stinkie threw up undigested food on my car almost every day... she was communicating the only way she knew how. And she sat on the rail of the front porch, chattering nonstop. “Waah! A thousand times waah!”
That first Oregon winter was a tough one. It snowed almost 8” and Stinkie’s owners did not bring her in from the cold. Not wanting to encourage her to stay with us, we did not feed her but felt the cold was too harsh for such a short-haired kitty. We compromised by putting an electric blanket on the front deck and she gratefully curled up.
The next summer, with our doors wide open, Stinkie began her “observations.” She would walk right in our front door, climb on top of my husband’s turntable cover, and watch us. She watched us eat dinner. She watched us interact with the other cats. She watched us watch movies. The entire time, it was as if she was making up her mind to do a very big thing.
Finally, after a few months of not being able to keep her out of the house, we let her stay. Stinkie had just turned 11. She befriended my husband’s elderly cat Trixie and kept Trixie company when the two boys Dr Tweety and Maxie were unruly. When Trixie went into renal failure at 16, Stinkie sat beside her day after day. After Trixie passed, Stinkie disappeared for three days. When she returned, she was depressed. It was the only time in my life I have ever heard a cat cry. She made low moaning noises and kept close, burrowing in my lap.
Several months later, we adopted Iris and Delilah. With the household now in a state of kitty flux, “Auntie” Stinkie took charge! She assumed alpha cat position and slapped the new kitten Delilah around. She let everyone know, including Maxie and Dr Tweety, that this was her home and she was the matron in charge of all things cat.
She demanded her eggs soupy and her chicken warm. “Waah! Waah!” But her nervous chattered subsided as the year passed. She no longer felt the need to be heard. Her home was with us and no one, even her former owner, contradicted that.
Auntie Stinkie was a survivor extraordinaire. She made it through skin cancer surgery, high blood pressure, total blindness, and lived well beyond what the vets thought three years ago. She adapted to her sightless state (even though I had a much more difficult time with it because I missed her looking straight at me and asking for her eggs!). She learned to use pet stairs next to the bed. She learned to feel her way around the garden and find that sweet sunny spot on the front deck. She found renewed vigor in her love for food and actually developed a bit of a pot belly by the time she was 16.
So here we are today. One month after her 19th birthday. I didn’t want to admit it, but I noticed the decline in her health a little before that landmark birthday. Her famous appetite wasn’t what it used to be and she was losing weight. Her iconic “Waah, waah had all but disappeared. But four days ago, she still managed to find her way to that sunny spot on the front porch.
Today, she can’t, nor can she walk more than a foot or two. Her muscles are too weak in the hind legs. It’s time to give her dignity.
We will miss her so much. She was my first Oregon friend and her dad’s first mailbox friend. We know how much all of you love your own dear furry friends and how the loss of each one touches another. We are one world within a complex universe that gives us both loss and love. Somehow, we weather the grief process together.
Dr Tweety will come back later in the summer, to let you know how we’re all doing. And we will visit you to see how you are all doing. Thank you so much for being our dear friends.
The photo you see above is from yesterday, when Iris kept Auntie Stinkie company on the bed.
Celly-bratin life in Orry-gone