Archive for the 'cats' Category


Farewell, Britty

Nearly fifteen years ago, Jan decided it was time for him to have some cats of his own. One of his mom’s neighbors was looking after a feral cat who’d recently had kittens and was trying to find homes for them. Jan bought a cat crate (what Sylvia calls “the cat car-seat,” because we use it only when driving the cats to the vet’s office), took it over to the neighbor’s house, and put it down. Two cats walked right on in. Jan figured they’d chosen him, so those were the ones he took home.

As a medievalist, he named them Britomart (after a female knight in Spenser’s Faerie Queene, who, in pursuit of her sweetie, Artegal, proceeds to kick some serious ass) and Beowulf. Not too long afterward, a vet told him that the latter was actually a girl, but the name stuck anyway.

By the time I met Jan, these two cats were well into adulthood. I’d never had cats of my own before, but I took to these two instantly. It endlessly fascinated me how two littermates could have such different personalities. Beowulf always was the crabbier of the two, preferring mostly to be alone and, once Jan and I became parents, usually not in the same room as Sylvia.

Britty, on the other hand, seemed to be part dog at times. She was relentless in her pursuit of food, for example. One friend who watched her for two weeks while Jan and I got married and went on our honeymoon called her “a food-seeking missile”; when Sylvia started eating solid foods, Britty very quickly learned to circle the drop zone under the high chair like a shark.

She was also sweet—oh so sweet. She’d clamor for cuddles and attention. And when Sylvia came along, Britty became her very patient teething ring (ears and tail), occasional pillow, and all-around best friend. We dubbed her “St. Britty.”

A little over two weeks ago, Britty became seriously ill. It happened suddenly: one day her back legs looked wobbly every few steps, the next day they were regularly giving out from under her, and two days later she could no longer walk. She meowed when she wanted something, and we’d carry her to her water, food, and litter box, trying all the possibilities until we found the one that gave her comfort.

Our awesome vet did various tests (diabetes? potassium deficiency? stroke?) but ended up stumped. Last week, a shot of prednisone seemed to work wonders: for two and a half days, Britty was supporting her own weight on her legs and even walking (though still needed help at the litter box). But those glimpses of the old Britty were fleeting, and she lost those gains.

Two days ago, the vet suggested trying another shot of prednisone. If we saw significant improvement again, he said, we could try oral prednisone administered daily. An hour after the shot, Britty seemed to be doing better. She was raising her head and putting some weight on her legs when supported. Jan and I went to bed that night hopeful that we’d see big improvements in the morning, as we had the week before.

But the next day, yesterday, she was once again immobile. And that’s when we knew it was time to let her go.

There are people out there who think it’s wrong to euthanize a pet. I cannot imagine how they can think that. As a pet owner, you are responsible for your pets—responsible for making sure they have a good quality of life and for making the decisions that they can’t make themselves. And if you’re unwilling to assume those responsibilities, then you shouldn’t have pets. Jan and I didn’t want to lose Britty, but at this point it was obvious to us that keeping her any longer and prolonging her suffering would be only cruel.

This morning Sylvia and I said goodbye to Britty. Sylvia understood that Britty was very sick (and over the last couple of weeks had, on her own initiative, written lots of “I hope you feel better soon” notes to her and sang to her several songs she made up on the spot as lullabies), and Jan and I had talked with her about how Britty was going to die and we weren’t going to see her any more. Does she get it? Sort of. Maybe.

Then Jan took Britty to the vet’s office for the last time. He couldn’t stay with her (the vet is leaving town for a week and was overbooked for the day; in order to be able to stay with Britty, we’d have to wait until next Friday), but she’s never been afraid at the vet’s and the staff there adored her, so we knew she’d be in good, loving hands.

The vet called us later. “It went peacefully,” he said. “This is what I would wish for everyone.” The anesthesia he administered to Britty usually takes one to two minutes to have its effect. She was gone in four seconds—a clear indication of just how ill she was. He suspects it was cancer, possibly something that struck her lymphatic system or kidneys; the latter are very close to her spine, and if the cancer spread there, that could explain her loss of limb function.

We miss her already. I’ve held it together pretty well for two weeks, but even though I know that she’s better off now than she was over the past two weeks, I’m weeping as I write this. It’s funny how these little creatures can touch our lives and teach us so much.

We have memories and stories of Britty. And lots of pictures, too. My favorite is this one, taken in October 2005 when Sylvia was five months old.



Um, okay…

I set up an e-mail account at Yahoo many, many years ago. It became thoroughly spamified not many years later, so you can imagine my joy when a friend who worked at HP sent me an invite for Gmail account right after Gmail launched. I moved all my personal and professional correspondence there and let my poor Yahoo account serve as my “when you have to register to buy/read/whatever someone online” place.

(Let me just take this opportunity to say that I lurve my Gmail. It’s right up there with sliced bread and flush toilets. Okay, flush toilets still win, but just barely.)

Unless I’ve ordered something online, I rarely check that Yahoo address. I pop in there once in a while to take a look around. Occasionally, I find an e-mail from someone I haven’t heard from in ages and who doesn’t know my current address. Today, when the My Yahoo page loaded, I was amused to see that #4 on the top-ten list of “Today’s Top Searches” is Cats That Look Like Hitler. This came in ahead of “Harry Potter News,” mind you–which astonished me tremendously, since that’s all everyone seems to be talking about. (In fact, yesterday I read about some moderated blogs and forums deciding to shut down temporarily for the week after the new book’s release, just so no trolls could post spoilers. I am not a Harry Potter fan. In fact, I am pretty unimpressed with the books. So all of this prepublication excitement is sociologically fascinating to me, but doesn’t really elicit more than a “Meh.”)

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the first link in the Yahoo search list: To date, there are 1231 “Kitlers” with little Hitler ‘taches. Wow.


Reality-defying cuteness

Lots of knitters have cats. It’s almost uncanny how cat-centric the knitting world seems to be. Need proof? Check it out.

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