Today, I said goodbye to my beautiful cat, Duchess. She was such a special lady. In February 1998, we lived in Washington state. Over the course of a couple of days, this beautiful cat kept scratching at our apartment door. She looked thin, so we gave her some food. Well, you guessed it, she kept coming back, and eventually moved in.
It took some getting used to. At that point, she was an indoor/outdoor cat, but she came home every day. When we moved to our next apartment, she made the move with us. She loved that apartment…big windows on the ground floor….and even better, big birds (geese) right outside that she could chase from one window to the next! Every once in a while, I would put her on a leash and we would walk outside to the pond behind the apartment to watch the geese. She would stalk them like she was a vicious killer. It was funny.
When we moved to California a few years later, Duchess got the royal treatment. Dad flew out to Washington to help me move, since Eric has moved a few weeks prior. Dad is allergic to cats, but he toughed it out with us. She thought she was really special because we let her out of her carrier at night and she got to sit on my lap with her paws on the dash watching all the lights.
Duchess liked California, except for the fact that we got another cat, Harvey. She barely tolerated him at the beginning. She figured out that if she stayed away from him, he was more concerned with playing in the water than bugging her.
We moved back to Iowa in 2001. Duchess made that move rather well. She couldn’t ride outside her carrier on that trip, but as long as someone would talk to her or pet her, she was ok. She moved with us 2 more times – from Mom & Dad’s to the apartment and from the apartment to the house. She always adjusted well to new places. Her favorite place in our apartment was the window sills. We were in the upstairs apartment of an old house. It had really wide window sills and radiators for heat. We would put a towel down on top of the radiator (in front of the window) and she would sleep there almost all day.
When we moved to the house, any time we had a window open, she was in it. She loved watching the birds and laying in the sun. She didn’t like the dogs much, but they learned to leave her alone or they would suffer a swat to the nose. When she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 5 years ago, we knew that we would have to monitor her health carefully and stay on top of her medicine. Some people said we should put her down at that point, but we didn’t see why. We could handle this.
Her thyroid level bounced a lot, but we always kept an eye on it and gave her the medicine every day. A week or so ago, we noticed she was getting thin again, so we figured her thyroid was off again. However, the blood test came back normal. At that point, I knew we were in trouble. An x-ray showed fluid around her heart (so much that you couldn’t really see her heart on the x-ray, and it had pushed her lungs out of place), fluid in her abdomen, and a large tumor in her lungs. That news broke my heart.
We decided that it was important to us to allow her to pass at home. We spent the next few days petting her, talking to her, taking some pictures, treasuring every moment we had with her. We even took her outside a couple of times so she could feel the sun on her fur and the grass under her paws. I think she loved it.
We knew it was just a matter of time, but the time was important to us. This morning, she passed after we had all left for work.
There are so many things I will miss…
- Duchess playing in boxes (she was a HUGE fan of boxes)
- Her purr – it was so loud and constant that they had a hard time listening to her heart at the vet’s office
- Hearing her run down the hallway after using the litter box
- Watching her play with strings or those silly toy mice (that lasted until we got Scooter, who ate the tails off all the mice)
- Coming home after work at Christmas and playing “where’s Duchess now?” because she would play in the tree, or play with the ornaments
- Her grumpy meow when you dared pick her up, or when you touched her back feet
- The black spot on the back of one leg
- How she would “attack” you if you played with her back legs or stomach
- How she would come running when we had tuna
- How I would wake up in the middle of the night to find her sleeping with me, only to move the instant I moved a muscle
- Her crawling up beside me on the couch as soon as I sat down
- Plus countless other things
What comforts me at this time is that I know she is doing all those things in Heaven and that she isn’t sick any longer. I know she’s waiting for me, and that for her, that time will pass in the blink of an eye. I, however, will miss her every day.