My beautiful girl

** Caution: Could be triggering. **

Last night I was reading a book about a man and his dog. I’m not going to mention the name of the book here (or the movie) because I don’t want a bunch of traffic looking for cutesy pictures of doggies or touching tales of man’s best friend. I’m not a huge fan of dogs. They’re cute and all, but they’re licky and slobbery and jumpy and…well, let’s just say I prefer cats.

As with most books about men and dogs, this one ends in the expected way. I didn’t think this would affect me, but I broke out in wracking sobs… so much so that I saturated both sides of my pillow! After berating myself for being ridiculous I realised this wasn’t about the dog at all. It was actually about my last cat (and probably some other stuff in there but I’ll start with the cat).

 

She was a dear little soul (only not so little, as you can see). Full of love and personality – even when she was gnawing on my toes to get me moving for her breakfast, climbing up the cupboards looking for food, or bringing me “presents” in that instinctive kitty way. She died some years ago, but in my time-honoured way, I never grieved her loss. Just buried those feelings under food and other stuff. They hurt too much, damnit!

Hers was quite a long and slow death – most probably stomach cancer of some sort. About a year before she died she started vomiting after meals, sometimes vomiting blood. I took her to a couple of vets but they said nothing was wrong, most likely just an ulcer that would get better in time.

It wasn’t until later, when she’d chucked up most food I’d given her and lost almost half her body weight that a vet finally told me what was wrong. By that time there was little I could do. I should probably have done something then but the vet said she probably wasn’t in pain and would last a bit longer, so I took her home again.

A couple of months, and a few more kilos later, she was in pain. She was about 14 by then and spent her days lying on the floor, totally uninterested in her food. She could barely walk. She didn’t even much like cuddles by that point, just a pat on the head occasionally. I knew the time had come and so I did what many good pet owners eventually have to do.

I remember that day like it was yesterday – probably better. It was Good Friday, and none of the regular vets were open, so I took her to the animal protection shelter. The vet was very good, but kitty knew what was coming. She didn’t want to be there, and she certainly didn’t want the nice vet shaving her arm or giving her an injection.

I went home with an empty kitty box. I didn’t cry, just a tear or two. Hell, even my mother – the queen of all ice queens – shed a tear that day. I went home determined never to have another pet – they just die on you anyway.

I miss my Beautiful Girl, though I love my new kitty. I’m sad about how I dealt with this. If I had my time over I would find another vet, much earlier. Someone who knew what they were doing so that something could be done. If you are reading, Beautiful Girl, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you were so sick. I’m sorry I didn’t take good enough care of you or get you treated properly sooner. I’m sorry the nice vet had to shave your arm and give you an injection. I’m sorry you were afraid that day. I miss you and I still love you.

Now, years later, reading a book about a man and his damned dog, all this comes back to haunt me. Some days I think I should have stuck by my vow not to have another pet, despite my beautiful new playmate. This too will surely end in the usual way. And now that I’ve learnt how to feel, it will surely be hurtful and hard and upsetting.

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5 thoughts on “My beautiful girl

  1. I’m so sorry about your kitty. But I’m glad that she had you…

    I haven’t gotten the courage yet to replace my tiny poodle. She died when she was 12 and it’s been 8 years. Just because the love is for an animal, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

  2. That’s the hard part about learning how to feel; the hurtful things hurt. But they hurt when you couldn’t feel, too — you just weren’t aware of it, so they hurt you and poisoned you. The benefit of feeling is that you get the joy as well as the hurt. It’s scary, but it’s more rewarding, too.

  3. @ Ivory – thank you. I try to believe that it’s worth taking the risk with another kitty (substitute poodle). But I dread the future.

    @ David – yep, feeling is hard and scary. Yep, locking it all up was poisonous, but sometimes I think it was much easier. I knew how to do that. I don’t know how to do this “feeling” thing.

  4. Grieving your lost loved ones is natural and necessary, it’s ok to say you wish things had been different but don’t muddle it by making it you fault. I had a kitty that died of leukemia it was horrible, but it introduced me to death as part of the process of life.

    I am so happy you are feeling, and connecting your feelings with traumatic events and I’m glad you took a chance with another kitty 🙂

  5. Hi Kerro,

    I agree with what David said. You pushed it down inside yourself and you know how much that hurt you over time. I’m glad that you read the book and it brought this stuff up and out for you. It is never pretty, but necessary to feel it to heal it.

    I still get chocked up and cry when I think of my kitty that died when I was a teenager and my mother told me that crying did not good and that of course he wasn’t going to be in heaven, there are no cats in heaven. Crying does too help, it helps us feel, it helps us heal. There always a huge chance on loving someone else. You made that choice. It was a very brave choice.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

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