Today’s daily prompt: Write about a noise — or even a silence — that won’t go away. (We’ll let you interpret this in different ways…)
I really didn’t want to write about this even though I’ve been thinking about it almost non-stop lately. I’ve cried about it, kept it to myself, pondered it, prayed about it, worried about it, etc. You get the picture. A little while ago, I unwrapped a Dove’s milk chocolate candy– the kind with the message inside the wrapper. The message was: Express Yourself! Was it a sign for me to take part in the daily prompt? Maybe so.
The truth is, I’m so tired of crying over this. I’m weary from trying to understand it. All night tonight I’ve wanted to crawl into my bed (or even a cave would do) and hibernate. I’ve felt very alone in this matter, like there’s no one who really understands enough to even be able to discuss it with.
If you’ve read my blog lately, you know I had to euthanize my beloved cat, Bigfoot, 3 months ago. For those of you who might be tired of hearing me talk about him or my grief for him, you best stop reading now. He was 19 1/2 (would have been 20 in early February). I’ve cried pretty much every day since. I miss him. My house feels so empty and lonely without him. I’ve written about my grief and I’m trying to deal with it. I have a good friend who recently had to euthanize her mother’s dog she inherited a few years ago at her mother’s death. The dog was 17 I believe. It was time. My friend told me after the euthanasia, that she would rather be stabbed in the eye with a dagger than have to put an animal to sleep. I’m right there with her and told her I understood completely. That’s pretty much exactly how I feel. Putting Bigfoot to sleep was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in. my. life.
Bigfoot was gray and white. On Halloween, out of the blue, a gray and white cat showed up in my backyard. What are the chances of that happening (a cat showing up who looked just like him)? The cat was a unneutered male. Just out of nowhere, there he was. Bam! He looked SO much like Bigfoot. It took a while, but he finally came up to me and let me pat him. He was very lovable.
I asked several neighbors and was able to find out that he first appeared at the end of August (I had Bigfoot euthanized on August 26th, so it was about the same time). One neighbor told me his father-in-law who lived at the end of our cul-de-sac had been feeding the cat (along with several other stray cats) and that the cat was hanging out in the woods between their houses. He told me to PLEASE take the cat since it was obviously a stray and both of them had dogs and could not keep the cat.
I never saw the cat again after that Halloween day. I even went looking for it but it was nowhere to be found. Then the weather turned really cold. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cat. I wondered if he had shelter and if he was staying warm. Then we had an ice storm a few nights ago (early Sunday morning). It was 1:30 am and I was up listening to the ice pellets hitting my window. Again, I worried about this cat. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. That night, I said a little prayer. I asked God to protect the cat from the cold and the ice. I also added that if it was HIS will for me to take in this stray, that I would be willing to love and care for the cat. I told God all He needed to do was to let the cat show up. I would take it from there.
The very next morning (yesterday), I came home from church, walked in the door, and my husband told me that he had seen “my little gray and white friend.” He said he just happened to look out the kitchen window and the cat was on the deck looking in the screened-in porch door. He tried to get the cat to come in, but he was too timid and ran away. All I could do is smile. My husband knew nothing about my prayer just a few hours earlier. That evening, just before dark, my husband and I were outside hanging Christmas wreaths when I heard meowing and turned to see the cat running up our sidewalk. The cat ran straight to me and started bunting all over my legs. I silently thanked God for his answer to my prayer (and a rapid one at that)! I picked the cat up and he snuggled under my neck. I brought him in the house and fed him. He ate voraciously like he was starving. Since it was very cold with more ice in the forecast, I kept him in our house for the night. He spent his time snuggling with my husband or me. He slept, he purred, he even used the litter box (and I wasn’t convinced he had ever seen a litter box in his life).
I was so happy and I physically felt some of that sadness I had felt for the past 3 months leave me. I had an animal to love again.
Yesterday afternoon, I made an appointment with the vet. I had already decided I would keep him. I had already decided his name would be Gabriel (after all he was an angel sent by God wasn’t he)? I thought the name was fitting. We would call him Gabe. When I walked into the vet clinic, I had no idea that my emotions would be stirred up from 3 months ago and how all the memories of that day would come rushing back. I found myself sitting in that waiting room with a room full of people and pets and veterinary receptionists, wiping a red, tear-stained face. I wanted to run out the door.
As a veterinarian, I know the first thing one should do when considering keeping a stray tom cat is to have them tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). I also requested a fecal test. IF he was negative on the FeLV and FIV, I would get all his vaccinations and bring him back the following day to be neutered. Blood was drawn and a few minutes later, the vet walked in and with a sad face, he said, “His feline leukemia test was positive.” While I knew that was a possibility (and a strong possibility in a roaming stray tom cat), I wasn’t expecting those results (obviously). The cat looked so darn healthy and we estimated his age at only about a year.
The vet asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I would have to take him home and think it over. Gabe also had worms and so I told him to go ahead and deworm him. May as well make him more comfortable while I decide what the best course of action is. I also told him that I knew one thing…. that I could NOT get attached to a feleuk positive cat. That’s asking for heartache. So I loaded Gabe into the carrier and I left, again in tears.
I have to admit, I got very angry on the drive home. I’ll admit, I was angry at God. And I was angry at irresponsible pet owners who let their cats run loose, who don’t neuter them, or vaccinate them. I guess I was angry at myself too. I cried and I raged and I screamed out that I didn’t understand why this was happening. And I don’t. Why would God answer my prayers and send this cat to me to love and now, barely 24 hours later, I’m having to put up a wall between me and this now sick cat to keep my heart from getting broken further? Why?
Yes, I know that cats with leukemia can live a normal life span. But I also know that they are often very sick with various illnesses that attack their weakened immune systems. It can be expensive caring for a leukemia cat. I’ve treated those cats before. And it’s heartbreaking to get attached to them, only to watch them get sick or die from one of the FeLV associated cancers or illnesses. Do I give my heart to this animal only to have it broken in weeks, months, or years? Or do I euthanize an apparently asymptomatic cat? I’m not so sure I can go through another euthanasia again so soon.
I honestly don’t know what to do. It’s been suggested that I just put him back out since he isn’t really my cat. To me that’s unethical and I won’t do it. Putting him out in the cold again would be cruel to him not to mention that it puts every outdoor cat in the neighborhood at risk. It’s a disease that is usually spread in saliva so is commonly spread by cat bites. Cats can get infected by drinking out of the same water bowl as an affected cat. I would not be able to bring another kitten/cat into the household with Gabe here.
I don’t understand this. At all. I’m still feeling some anger. And I’m tired of trying to figure it out. Very tired. But I decided tonight that maybe I needed to stop trying to understand it and just accept it. I do believe my prayers were answered and God sent this cat to me for a reason. What that reason is, I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s to love this cat and to care for him. I wish God himself would just appear and tell me what is best and what I need to do. Wouldn’t that be nice? I pray when all is said and done, that I end up doing the right thing.