i got my very first cat on my own when i was 21 and living in a house with 5 rotating roommates. she was all white and half persian, found through a co-worker at the answering service. yes, telephone answering service. what a relic. i intended to get a boy, i never had a girl cat growing up. but when i went to look at the 4 all white kittens, the boy had a crooked tale and this little girl was perfect. i took her home and didn’t name her right away, it took a few days. i was reading a book, something toni morrison i think, and read a line about brown sugar. sugar! and that was her name.
dainty, lovely, perfect sized, beautiful, aloof, my little princess. she was a feisty little thing as a kitten. i let her be an outdoor cat, though the regret came quick – she got into a fight with some kind of animal and came in with her cheek bitten and beginning to swell. i didn’t know if she’d make it. but anti-biotics and my roommate shari’s willingness to drain her puffy cheek by hand got her through. she had more adventures – getting stuck on a rooftop across the street, dropping dead mice at the doorstep, and general tough outside kittie cat business. she always lived with one or two other cats, so she was never lonely, but very private. she’d only really allow me to pet her when i shut my bedroom door and no other cats or people could interrupt. when i moved to an apartment facing a busy street, she lost interest in going outside. she’s been an indoor cat ever since.
when i got my first studio apartment, living alone for the first time, it was just her and i. she got very needy! in addition i was doing full time day school and ft night restaurant/bar work. i wasn’t home too much and she was demanding. one january when i took a vacation, i brought her over to my mom’s to be catsat. when i came to get her she hid from me. i tried a couple of other times, and gave up easily because i really didn’t have the energy to be a good mama at that point in my life. i was overcome with guilt for a long time after that, and my mom’s style of passive aggressive cat narrative didn’t help. i came to terms with giving her up when in 2007, i catsat for a friend who was going to europe. she eventually let me keep her 2 cats and i was thrilled. sometimes cats need a new home for unordinary reasons. so technically, today, i have 3 cats. louie and mazzy live with me, and sugar lives with my mom, stepdad, and sister. they have spoiled her rotten, giving her and spunky (their other cat) treats every night, canned food on a regular basis, and constant supply of water with rocks (ice water), which she entitledly dips her paw into and with much grace, licks off to her liking.
but today will be the last day i have 3 cats. if she doesn’t die tonight, i’m gonna put her down in the morning. i’m pretty fucking sad.
she’s been losing weight for about a year, but things have gone downhill quickly in the past few weeks. she’s scrawny now, i can’t imagine that she weights more than a couple pounds. she’s listless and weak, but still perks up sometimes. i had planned to put her down when she stopped eating but in talking about it as a family it just didn’t seem right yesterday when she was still attentive. but she’s 15 years old. all our cats have died of old age and kidney failure, and this looks terribly familiar.
what i told my sister the other day was that it’s both good and bad that i just experienced 2 significant people deaths in my family. both of them begged to be put down, but they were in pain. sugar doesn’t look like she’s in pain, but she’s losing all muscle control and it’s just sad. i think when she was wobbly but still able to move around and drink and eat a little bit it was ok. but at this point, it’s time.
the other thing i told my sister is that what i know about death is that you just have to love them as long as they can understand, and then try your best to provide a peaceful passing. i learned that from Barb and Grama. i found myself angry with them on my ride home. angry with them, angry with God? angry at whoever is greedily taking away precious beings from my life. i was angrily shaking a proverbial fist and threating, you better take good care of her.
peace to you, sugar. you are so very loved.