“Crazy cat lady” was never historically a compliment.
Granted, the past ten years and the Internet have done wonders to normalize the zaniest of cat lovers and give pet parents an outlet to congregate in their love that sometimes goes a little overboard. But there’s still a part of the population who will always believe folks who are obsessed with animals generally and cats specifically have something wrong with them. They’re better ignored.
My Marina is 11 this year, having turned last December. According to her adoption paperwork, she was born on Dec. 8, 2010. Like Elle Woods and her little sidekick Bruiser are Gemini vegetarians, Marina and I are loud ‘n proud Sagittarian ladies. (Side note: this is where the Always Serious people who read my stuff are probably making a face. In addition to calling myself a cat parent/mom, I do believe astrology can explain personality traits. Read it and wince.) I adopted her on April 2nd, 2016. She’s spent over half her life living with me in our apartment.
Since turning 11, two big thoughts have been circling my brain. The first is a general curiosity about what her life was like before she got me as her mom and came here. I adopted her from a foster family, and the lady mentioned Marina tended to stay back in the bedrooms (which she still does) and only came out at night to eat so the other animals in the house wouldn’t bother her (she’s rules the roost and comes whenever she pleases – typically at five in the morning.) I’ve wondered where else she’s been, and asked her a few times when we’re curled up. Maybe it’s irrelevant to her now.
The second thought that’s been circling my brain and scares me is the realization she’s 11. Growing up we had four cats – Daisy, Lily, Holly and Violet. Three of our kitties lived to be 12 before age-related health issues or natural causes took them away. Holly was the exception living to 17 years old. So in my head, 12 is the average age of a cat. An internet search has reassured me a healthy, happy cat can live longer than 15 years, and Marina is part-Siamese, which as a breed can live to be anywhere between 15 to 20 years old.
Marina’s to be a healthy, happy cat. But on and off since she turned 11, I’ve had some nights where my mind hasn’t been able to relax and goes there. I’ve had some unpleasant dreams about coming home from work or after a weekend away to find my baby has passed on. That’s one of my worst fears about her – her time will come, she’ll want to see me or know I’m there, and I’ll be gone and oblivious.
This isn’t a sunny topic, but earlier this week we had a day that sent off my panic alarm.
Marina spent Sunday lazing around and sleeping on the living room chair, followed by the couch. Her back was facing me the entire time, so I knew I was in trouble. The day before my folks were out visiting and my stepdad sat on her chair. This is no bueno for kitty, and I figured out she was displeased with me sharing her chair and being gone so much over the weekend.
Monday morning she didn’t come out with me for breakfast, which is unusual for her. I checked under my bed, where she’ll sometimes hide. She was alert and purring, but not budging, so I decided to stick her wet food under there with her. I figured if she wanted to have a private breakfast that would be fine. At least she’d be eating, and she’d eventually come out while I was at work. I topped off her bowl with dry food and had to run out.
I got home Monday evening. No sign of Marina, and her dry food wasn’t touched. Neither was the litter box. Now I was starting to panic.
I remembered my cats growing up hiding away when they were in their last moments. Cats will go someplace by themselves if they know their time is near, so they can feel protected when they pass. Not eating or using the litter box were signs then. Marina was purring when I poked my head under the bed and said hi to her. At least she was alert and didn’t appear to be in any pain, but I was well into panic mode.
I decided to set out some more food and water bowls throughout my apartment, thinking if she didn’t want to go out to the dining room, at least she would have food in my bedroom she could get to. She seemed to perk up at having food in my bedroom. I must have been watching her eat with the same baited breath as a coach watching his boys score the winning touchdown. I wanted my cat to quickly bounce back to herself. She was up and moving, but a little slower.
I’m going to use this moment to tell you that if you think looking up symptoms for humans on WebMD will convince you you’re dying, looking up stuff on PetMD is so much worse. Once it was bedtime, Marina had settled on the couch and I was laying down in my bed. Typically she’s up there when I’m laying down, and moves over to curl up into my side under the covers. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t fall asleep until I know she’s curled up into me. As I was laying in bed Monday night without my kitty, the thought popped into my head: One day you’re not going to feel her curling up into you.
I started crying at that thought. I’m not ready to say good bye and I don’t want to for a long time.
Then like clockwork, I heard the crunching from the food bowl in my room. The crunching was followed by the echo of her feet pitter-pattering up in my bed. I felt a front paw tapping my shoulder and knew what that meant. Cover comes up, kitty goes under and gets her pets.
I was able to stop crying then. My kitty was back and she was here with her mom. Everything is alright.
I’m glad to say from Tuesday morning on it’s been normal in my apartment. Marina is eating, drinking water, using the box and talking to me as normal. She’s back to getting up with me for breakfast and staying by my side in the evenings until it’s time for bed. My cat is still her good ol’ happy cat self.
I don’t care what anyone says. Pets are babies, and the same I’d worry about a human child is the same way I worry about Marina. As well as dote on her. And protect her from danger, such as bugs that sometimes get in my apartment and the cold of the air conditioner. We’re actually snuggled on the couch now. Her motor is going, she’s on a blanket and she’s got her mom writing on her phone while also twisting her body around like a wall to protect against …. Well, I don’t know. But I do know my feet are ice cubes right now, so if anything tried to hurt my cat, they’d have to get past cold stinky foot doom.
Hell hath no fury like a spinstered cat mom with cold stinky foot doom.
Yours in writing and life,