It was the saddest of weekends, or actually the past few weeks have been quite sad and worrisome. My cat Mara was struck by a minor stroke and got from not even that bad to much worse to a point where she had to be euthanised last saturday.
It's strange how fast these things can go. Here's a page from my journal that I wrote just yesterday, all about my grief of course, but I'm showing it because there are two photographs in it that are almost exactly a month apart. I still can't get my head around the quick change!
The first photo shows Mara at her best. It was taken in the early morning, which is the time when I usually write in my journal. As you can see she liked to be on top of things, usually quite literally. This was already far away for her. She usually lay against my left hand while I was writing with my right. She loved attention and had no shame in asking for it, or should I say 'demanding it'? ;-)
The second photo was taken last friday and shows just how miserable she had become. Her expression says it all. I had to bind her legs in bandages because she was gnawing at them and all the fur was dissappearing. I had to protect the skin from further damage. She was dehydrated and lost a lot of weight. She could barely find the strength to walk anymore, but she kept her dignity and kept using the litter box, which was amazing to me.
The whole thing started three weeks ago. Until that moment she had never been sick or hurt in all her 15 years of living (unlike her brother who died last september and who was a real trouble maker). She started shaking her head and her legs as if she wanted to shake something off and her personality kind of changed from being the most affectionate and talkative cat in the world to be being much more aloof and quiet. The vet thought she had had a minor stroke and said it was quite possible she could recover over time. So I still had hope mixed with all my fears. That's why there's still some humor in the journal page I did shortly after she got sick.
It's a small painting in my journal done with poster paints and a glaze pen. It's a little play on words. On the one hand it's of course about my fear of losing her, but on the other hand it's a display of a character trait of hers. She was really easily offended and then literally sat like that a little away from me, but in plain view just to show me she was not amused. ;-)
But things got worse rather fast. She lost strength, she simply forgot to eat (I had to remind her to eat and drink), she started to breathe more difficultly. Every now and then she would have this small period of feeling better and I hoped she would recover after all, but it always was one step forward and two steps back. Until the point where I thought maybe it would be better to let her go. I wanted to ask the vet for advice first though. But I felt there was little chance she would get better. I made a little work on paper about this, just to get this sad energy out.
Last saturday was the final day. She had gotten so bad that there was no doubt left in my mind that I should save her from any worse. So in the morning the vet helped her out. I had never been present at a thing like this before and I expected it to be somewhat cold and clinical, but it was nothing like that at all. In fact it may be the kindest thing I have ever done for her. She went quietly and without pain and I am happy to say she did so after one wonderful life!
I was and still am really sad of course. It's not easy losing such a great cat. I'm not one of those people who thinks of cats as equal to people, but the fact remains that this cat and her brother before her spent eight years with me and except for vacations were my constant companions in those years. I got them both from an animal shelter when they were seven years old, and I can't recommend getting an older cat enough to anybody. They can be so cool and sweet!
After it was over I went home and cleared some stuff away and then I took her into the dunes and buried her (that's the great thing about living here, lots of wonderful remote places for a thing like that). She lies close to her brother, be it not in the exact same spot.
I made this journal page after I came home again.
The heart is made of the same fabric as the one I wrapped her in when I went to bury her. I did not bury her with anything though. I want nature to take her as fast as possible, that's just what feels right to me.
So, now I have gone from two cats to one cat to no more cats. The house feels really empty without them and I keep expecting a cat around every corner, which is really strange. I will definitely go to an animal shelter some time in the future to get another cat, but first I want to get over these two and just be alone for a while.