It was a Sunday night, the week before Easter, 2013. Misty was lying just outside the back door, sleeping; I was on the couch watching a movie (which one? No idea; that memory is totally blank.) About half an hour into the movie, the rain hit; a sudden torrential blast that sounded more like a firehose than anything else. I jumped up to go and let her in, but she was already gone, bolted down somewhere to take refuge. I went to the front door to see if she'd gone there—she seemed entirely convinced that the front and back doors led to two different worlds—but there was no sign of her. I called to her, but since she was possibly deaf, who knows if she heard? I closed the front door (having left the back door open; only the screen was closed) and went back to my movie.
When it finished—and the rain had stopped—I went and opened both doors, called her a few times, and waited. A couple of minutes later she appeared, totally drenched, miserable and bedraggled. I wrapped her in a towel, dried her off as well as I could—as well as she would allow—and tried to warm her up and interest her in a rather soggy snuggle. After a minute or two she jumped up and lay on the floor.
A couple of hours later when I went to bed, she had barely moved. I figured she was sulking from getting soaked, so I picked her up and put her on the bed. She stayed on the end of the bed all night; she didn't wake me up even once, and she was still there when I went to work. This was rather unusual behaviour for her, and it left me feeling a little concerned. I thought she might have come down with something. I got home that evening to find that she'd thrown up on the bed and moved to the floor, but apart from that she didn't seem to have moved much at all. She just lay on her side, her breathing more laboured than seemed normal. I moved her into the kitchen, put her food and water beside her, and spent the rest of the evening up in the lounge room, watching movies and keeping an eye on her. The one time I picked her up to make a fuss of her she struggled free and staggered (alarmingly) back to the kitchen.
Tuesday morning she had barely moved, and didn't seem to have eaten anything. I went to work, called the vet, and arranged to take her in that afternoon. When I got home she had, again, barely moved, and by now I was quite worried. Not wanting to cram her into her carry case, I decided that I could put her in the laundry basket, that she would be more comfortable there. She may have been as weak as a newborn kitten, but she had enough strength to jump straight back out of that, thank you very much! It was heart-wrenching to watch her dragging herself away across the floor, her back legs almost useless. Finally I put her straight in the back of the car. She barely complained at all on the drive out to the vet, just a few weak moans to express her unhappiness. I waited out by the back of the car with her until they were ready for her, and then I carried her in.
The vet's preliminary examination revealed puzzling results, but nothing worth mentioning. She decided it would be best to keep Misty in overnight, on a drip to get fluids into her, and they would look at her first thing in the morning to do what they could. Expect a call at 8am.
The call came at 7:30. She had died during the night. Kidney failure, it turned out—and it seems to me that it must have been triggered by the shock of that sudden drenching, but what would I know? As it turned out, she had congenitally deformed kidneys; one huge, one tiny. Thinking about it now, I can't help but wonder if that huge, vulnerable kidney was behind her belly-protecting trap-attacks all those years ago... From somewhere inside my numb brain I arranged to have her cremated, and her ashes now rest in a kitten-shaped urn on a shelf in my living room.
I was a mess then, and I'm a mess now as I write these last few paragraphs. But in the weeks since her passing, I've adjusted to her absence. Adjusted to being able to sleep without interruption, to not having to rush home to feed her. To not seeing her waiting for me when I get home. Adjusted. Mostly...
On the morning I heard the news, I had an overwhelming urge to reboot my life, to get rid of every last item in my house and start again from scratch. The urge passed, but it did get me working on my newest effort to clean the place up a bit. That is now progressing nicely (albeit slowly, because hey, it's me!) I've bought new furniture, rearranged (and even replaced) existing furniture, and reduced a load of clutter.
Life goes on.
You might think, from reading this, that the cat—Misty—was nothing but an irritation, and wonder why I put up with her? Some days I wondered that myself. But ultimately, I took responsibility for her the first day I fed her. She entrusted herself to my care; how else could I repay that trust? And, sure, I'm a big softy (some have said doormat, but I don't talk to them any more) and I'm a sucker for ladies and small animals in distress.
Misty could be infuriating at times, and there were numerous occasions where she drove me to yell at her in frustration—usually some variant of "What do you want??!?!" But she was also my loyal companion, and yes, even my buddy. She was a huge part of my life.
Take care, Misty!