Sunday, August 19, 2012

Miss Lily, 1992-2007

This year I spent my birthday at our annual fall faculty retreat. People asked me if I minded spending a birthday at such an event, and I said it was all right this year. I had done it before, and this year was fine, kind of boring actually.

I won't ever forget that first birthday retreat because my poor kitty, Miss Lily, was in the animal ICU, dying that day. I kept getting phone calls from different vets as we talked over her condition and made decisions about what to do next. I would get a ring on the phone, excuse myself to the corridor, talk to the doctors while pacing the hallway, and eventually return to the meeting in tears, only to do it again a couple of hours later.

I have written tons about the new joy of my life, Smokey Rose, as well a some about Little Poppy, but  Smokey Rose is cat #5 in my life. Simone, the French lady who was all black and probably deaf, was the first one who stole my heart away and made me a cat lover forever in spite of herself .... being a French woman she had attitude, but I could see her charms. I got Emma, the Maine farm girl as a companion for Simone, but they never did take to each other and kind of lived parallel lives.

Emma died in early November of 1992, soon after I had moved to North Carolina. I'll tell her story later.  Because it was November, I decided to delay getting another kitty until after the holidays. I was able to travel more easily for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and even put up a Christmas tree, something I had not done since sometime in the 1970's.

But January 2 came and wham! I needed another kitty NOW. That's when the trouble began. Turns out you can't find cats in January. My vet said cats are born in the spring and are all gone by winter, one way or another. None of the shelters had cats. The vets didn't know of any. None were advertized in the newspapers.I guess I just needed to wait until spring.

I was moaning about this at the health department in a rural county were I worked some times. One of the public health nurses (all of whom knew everything about everybody in the whole county) said that her brother had a litter of cats on his farm and she would check, but probably I could have one of them. They were all "half grown" but still not yet adults. They had all been living outside their own lives, but were fed by people and pretty friendly.

So the next Friday night, my friend Pam and I showed up at the farm. My Miss Edna, nurse friend, was there plus the farm family. There were tabby cats of various sizes roaming around the driveway. Time for some herding. Five adults chased six cats all over the landscape, and eventually someone caught one. That was Miss Lily. Into the carrier she went.

When we got home I took her into the back bedroom where a litter box and food was all set up. Miss Lily made a beeline for the back of the washing machine where she remained all night long.

The next morning I said enough is enough. I moved the machine and grabbed her up. I sat down in a nice chair with her on my lap. I forced her to stay there and began to pet her. It only took about a minute ... she was such a pushover ... and she was purring away and decided to stay in my lap for awhile.

That was it. She was my loving kitty for the rest of her life.

I took her to the vet for a check up. She had fleas, of course (which she got again and again and again as long as we lived in NC) and worms (which she also got again and again and again.) I asked the vet how old she looked, and he gave me a scientific estimate "half grown." So I just decided her birthday would be June 1992.

Miss Lily had blue eyes. Once I got Little Poppy, who was also a cute tabby with similar coloring, I had to be sure to tell people that Lily had the blue eyes, and Poppy had the yellow eyes. I had that written on their medical records. I could tell them apart on a gestault level, but others had to go with the eye color.

Miss Lily was totally sweet and cuddly. She would sleep on top of my legs or beside me. She talked a lot, almost like a Siamese kitty. That's how I knew she was a true North Carolina lady. Most of her talking was not complaining; it was telling me about this and that, things she thought I might like to know.

She really had no bad habits (aside from being a flea magnet.) I could easily pick her up and carry her around any old way. She didn't mind being draped around my neck and shoulders. She was always just easy going, a "whatever you want" kind of kitty.

She did like to adopt unusual places to sleep like large bowls.

If she could find a table to where she could do this, she was in heaven.

Because she was an indoor cat, she did get a bit chubby, but not extraordinarily so. Poppy ended up on a special diet which meant that Lily did too, and I couldn't really manage to reduce the calories.

Miss Lily died of lung cancer. In the summer of 2007 while we were living in our summer home, it was clear that she was in a bit of a decline. She was 15 years old, and over the summer she was just a lot less active. She did eat and sleep and cuddle and didn't seem to be in any kind of pain. She seemed pretty normal, just a bit more slow, like the dignified older lady that she was.

On our trip home she was about the same when I put her into the travel box in the morning. When I let her out that night in the hotel, it was perfectly clear that she was desperately ill. She could barely breathe. I put her onto the bed, and she didn't move all night. I slept next to her and tried to pet her as much as I could while still trying to get some sleep myself.

The next day I drove to SLC as fast as I dared. I went to our apartment and dropped off Little Poppy with some food, and then went directly to the emergency vet hospital. They took her and said they would call when they figured some things out.

Her symptoms improved with some IV fluids and oxygen. But a chest X-ray showed she had lungs filled with tumors. The next day was the faculty retreat.

I visited her on my birthday evening in the hospital. She was doing better than when I had left her, but still I knew this was the end. I sat with her in my lap for awhile which she seemed to like, but she did not resist going back into the hospital cage with the oxygen.

After work the next day, my friend Jen picked me up. I had with a favorite cardboard box that Lily liked to use as a bed. I was able to carry her in the box without a lid in the car without difficulty. She had an IV already in her arm.

We went to our usual vet who was so kind as Miss Lily went to sleep for the last time. In due time she was cremated and later that year had her ashes scattered around the mountain down at the Best Friends Sanctuary.

So Miss Lily has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is waiting for me at the other side. I will be happy to cuddle with my sweet southern lady again when the time comes.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Linda, I have tears in my eyes again (I read this for the second time). What a beautiful memoriam for miss Lily. It's so recognizable. Our very first cat Bowie was a chatterbox too, we always believed he had some Siamese blood in his vains. We saw some cats in the shelter and when we turned our backs there was one cat who wanted our attention. So we took Bowie home and he turned out to be a crazy cat in a good way, strange hiding places and never wanting to leave your lap or sleep on top of us at night.
    He only was with us for 2 years, he had kidney failure and after just knowing that for 3 days, we had to say goodbye. We took him to the crematory for pets and I was so crushed about letting go, the lady there gave me the story about the rainbow bridge, I never heard of it before. Now I read about it here, it's all comming back to me now. Bowie was the best first cat we could wish for!

    Very nicely written Linda!

    Love Jessica