The Word Is “Shattered”

My kitten, about whom I had no chill? He looked like he was getting better, when the vet called me the night that I brought him in. And I was feeling good about the fact that I was going to see him first thing in the morning, the next morning, when I was scheduled to bring he and the dog in.

Except I got a call from the vet 30 minutes before I was supposed to be there, letting me know that although he had been alive— weak but alive— when they got there less than an hour earlier and did his vitals, he had died about 20 minutes later.

I’d say that there are no words for how much I miss him except I’m pouring them out by the thousands. I’m so sad I didn’t catch it in time to save him. I miss him in a million ways, large and small. I never considered what life would be like without him because I hoped I’d never have to know.

Fortunately or unfortunately, although I missed signs that he was sick, I didn’t realize that’s what I was seeing, so I’m not blaming myself, much as I wish it had worked out otherwise.

It is a wonderful honor to have a being who loves you with everything they have in them, who lives to be with you. And to have that for more than 16 years— even if it would never be long enough for me— it was a great blessing.

My other cat has been very sweet, trying, in her own way, to comfort me and to step up for me. And the dog is his own wonderful self.

But there were very specific things about my boy that I miss, that have me thinking that I may try with another kitten, maybe sometime after Christmas:

  • He was unbelievably soft and he loved to cuddle. My remaining cat is also soft, but she’s very particular about terms of her cuddling. She was a stray for 18 months before I got her and a lot of her has never recovered from whatever happened during that time. My picking her up has always freaked her out, so I don’t pick her up to cuddle— only if I have to take her to the vet or do something for her own good (one time she got out and hurt herself and I had to carry her inside, for example). If she perceives that I’m restraining her in any way, that’s a problem. I didn’t “restrain” my boy, but he’d snuggle with me and I’d put an arm around him, and he’d be fine with that. She won’t.
  • He’d tuck his luxuriously warm soft furry head under my chin in a way that made me feel like the world was not the hard place it can seem. She does her own particular cuddle, where she puts her belly against my belly, and it’s very sweet, but I miss that head under my chin like crazy.
  • He’d sit in my lap. She sits adjacent to my lap. Sometimes, she puts her front paws over my leg, which is cute, but that’s seriously it.
  • He’d meet me at the door when I came home, or come talk to me in the bathroom. He’d sit on the side of the tub and play with the water or wait for me outside the shower. That’s just not her jam, which is okay, but sad.

Part of me knows that another kitten won’t be the kitten that I lost. And part of me knows that the reason he was that way was that we belonged to each other exclusively for the first six years we were together. Even if I could socialize it to be more snuggly with me than my remaining cat, a new kitten would grow up with the influences of my remaining cat and the dog and my mom almost to a greater degree than with my influence. God only knows what the remaining cat would teach the new one— I have litterbox problems with this one galore, and would not like to share that wealth. Plus, my dearly departed cat and my remaining cat hated the sight of each other, and I can’t be sure that it was all on his side.

And part of me wonders what will emerge with the existing animals. I snuggled more with the puppy last night, because I was missing my boy. He loved it and I suspect that he’d be all over helping me to fulfill my snuggling deficit. I kind of like that he doesn’t get on the furniture, so I’ll need to be better about getting on the floor with him while I consider if I’d want to change the rules (my mother is miles away and she probably doesn’t know why she’s thinking “nonononononononononononono!” but I’m pretty sure she is.)

I can’t get another kitten until after Christmas because of travel and company and craziness, but I guess it’s good that I have some time to work it out.

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