Sunday, March 22, 2009

We'll Miss You, Doodle H.

I am so sorry I have been absent lately! Even though we've been extremely busy, there's really no official excuse. It was simply a matter of getting out of the habit. I have really missed blogging, though, and look forward to getting going regularly soon! ("Getting going regularly?" See, it's been so long that my grammar has gone out the window!)

There is tons of news, but the main news is that we lost our cat of 17 years in the wee hours of St. Patrick's Day morning. It was hard, but we knew it was coming. She started getting sick a few months ago, and although she had moments where she perked up quite a bit, she never did get completely back to normal.

(Wasn't she gorgeous?)

A little history of how I got her: I was living in an old apartment just before I finished college in 1992. One night, as I returned from my shift as a waitress at Chi'Chi's - man, I miss that place (the food, not the work)! - my headlights caught some movement as I pulled into the driveway. A stray cat was living under our house with a litter of the most adorable kittens you've ever seen. When my landlord (a grumpy, 90-something-year-old codger) got wind of this, he declared that he was going to beat them all to death with his cane. Horrified, a neighbor and I captured the cats one by one and took them to the Humane Society. Molly was the very last one, and she was so beautiful I just had to keep her.

At first, Molly was terrified of me and all humans. Gradually I got her to trust me, although for years she hid from most everyone else. She never was very friendly to anyone until Drama Queen was born. After that, she was so desperate for attention that she would cuddle on any stranger that came by! By the time Screech was born, she would endure anything if it meant getting a little attention. You can see how much her personality had changed by these pictures:

Like most cats, she had lots of quirks. She was fascinated with watching toilets flush. When I showered, she meowed anxiously and pawed at me as if to say, "Oh! The horror of my beloved owner being blasted by that water! Grab my paw and I'll pull you to safety!" Every time I took a nap, she burrowed under the covers and curled up by my legs. When I practiced piano, she insisted on sitting on my lap. She had a penchant for car seats and loved to curl up on them. (Once, I left one in the house while I was on a weekend trip and found that she had used it for a litter box. Bad kitty!)

Well, she did have an excuse. Someone had accidentally left a baby gate closed, and she was unable to squeeze underneath to get to her litterbox because she was so fat! At one point she weighed over 17 pounds. The vet had scrawled "OBESE" on her chart in gigantic letters and put her on diet cat food. I had to limit her to such a tiny portion of food that I gave her half in the morning and half at night to space it out so she wouldn't be so hungry. She snarfed it down in seconds, slobbering and scattering it everywhere, then meowed all day long, wanting more. After many months of this, she never really lost weight. Her constant begging for food drove me batty, so finally I just kept her cat bowl piled high. Funny thing, her weight came down after that!

Molly had several nicknames (thanks to hubby):

Molly Wolly
Molly Wolly Doodle All the Day
Doodle H.M.N.N. Buggen (which stands for Doodle Henrietta Matilda Natalie Nicole Buggen)
and finally, we simply called her Doodle H.

Around Thanksgiving this past year, Doodle didn't eat well, didn't use the litter box much, and threw up about once a day. She lost weight and got really dehydrated. When I took her to the vet, she weighed only 7 pounds! They admitted her for three days and gave her IV fluids. (I needed medical care myself when I got the vet bill.) She had a problem with her kidneys, which is common in older cats. When I got her home, I had to give her some of these twice a day:

It was no picnic, as she wet on my leg every time I did it.
Every. Time.

The freaky part was giving her THIS every day:

Yes, me. At home. This was some kind of subcutaneous fluid treatment she needed. I had to jab a GINORMOUS needle into the scruff of her neck and let this stuff drip into her for 10-15 minutes every day. It was the weirdest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. Believe it or not, she did fairly well with it. It was actually kind of funny, because for awhile after each treatment it looked like she she had these big blobs of fat on her legs.

Screech also did her best to care for her:

Doodle rallied for awhile and started eating again, but at some point last month she started eating less again. About a week before she died, she completely stopped eating. I tried everything: every brand of cat food, table scraps, tuna, you name it. She got weaker and weaker. The day before she died, she couldn't jump up on the bed anymore to cuddle with me. When I picked her up, she just laid her head on me - something she never did. I knew that it would be a matter of hours, so I camped out in the recliner and cuddled her for several hours until she died in my arms.

Hubby was so supportive during this time. The moment she died (12:25am), I woke him up to tell him that I thought she was gone. (Funny, although I had watched her take her last breath and no longer felt her heartbeat, there was still that residual denial.) He hugged me for the longest time, then we talked for awhile. He went back to bed, but got up extra early and buried her before dawn. (Isn't he AWESOME?)

Doodle H. was a really good cat. She was a good listener:

She even guarded the mountain laundry for me during our lice crisis, lest some evil person might have come and tried to steal it:

You were a good kitty, Doodle H. We'll miss you.

Doodle H.M.N.N. Buggen
March ?, 1992 - March 17, 2009

By the way, if you ever face the loss of a pet, I highly recommend the books Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cythia Rylant. These picture books can be precious keepsakes for a pet lover of any age, but they are great for helping children through those first hard days. Each describes the special things that animals get to do in heaven. In Cat Heaven, cats get to eat on God's kitchen countertop and sleep on His bed, and cuddle on angel laps. Here's an excerpt:

There are trees
in Cat Heaven
trees made
just for cats,

trees growing

so green and so high.

But no one

gets stuck

in a tree
anymore -

if a cat

wants down,
she will fly!


Carla said...

I am sorry for the loss of your "family member," sounds like she was a very special cat and was very loved. Sweet memories!!

Christy said...

I'm sorry too. What a moving post about her, it made me cry. We used to have a dog we called Doodle. Now we have a cat we call one ear even though she has both ears. Funny how these nick names get started.