Sunday, May 29, 2011


Hi Folks! Thanks for stopping by!

It seems that spring has finally arrived, here in the midwest, but instead of April showers, we're getting May monsoons! I'll be glad when the weather decides to cooperate!

I've been putting off writing this blog entry for a long time. The reason why will become apparent fairly quickly. Suffice to say, this particular subject is still a painful one for me, and writing about it means having to open doors that I'd just as soon leave shut.

It's been a year and a month since my beloved Miss Muffin passed away. I've spent most of that time trying very hard not to think about her at all because whenever I do, a searing pain burns my heart. I've had to euthanize a number of critters over the years, so I know that the pain will subside over time, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a huge empty place where Muffin used to be.

While she was with me for eleven years, and I loved her very much, I also took her for granted - a thing that grieves me still. Junebug and Spanky usually got more attention because they were squeaky wheels, whereas Muff would wait quietly to be noticed. She spent her days lounging in the family room. Whenever I'd lie down on the couch for a nap, she alone would jump up and snuggle with me, nestling against my stomach and purring happily.

She was the only cat I could take outside without a leash: she was never inclined to go any farther than I did, always staying close to me as I walked around the yard. I made a video of her once, lying in the grass enjoying the sunny day. In the narrative, I said that I didn't think she'd be around much longer; her health seemed to have taken a quick turn for the worse. In fact, the day after I made that video, I had to put her down.

There's never enough time to say good-bye. Those of you who have had to euthanize your critter friends already know that. You can spend an hour or a day or a week doing nothing but breathing in the smell of your pal, burying your face in their fur, and telling them all the things you meant to say over the years, but it's never enough. Just typing those words has started the tears streaming down my face: I spent quite a long time in the veterinarian's exam room, doing and saying just those things and knowing that wasn't going to be enough to sustain me once Muff was gone. And, indeed, here I am, a year and a month later, still grieving deeply for my girl.

I had her cremated because it's much more portable than burial. Mine has been something of a nomadic life, never living in one place for more than a few years. How could I bury a beloved pet, knowing that one day, I'd be moving on and leaving them behind? Like Pretty Boy Duck before her, I had no idea what to do with the small decorative tin full of ashes, and so I simply left them on my kitchen table. Both sets of ashes are still there now.

The dynamic among the surviving cats has changed. Gracie comes out of the bedroom more often now, and usually joins me on the couch in the evening when I watch t.v. Muffin hated Gracie from the start, but I never realized that that was why Gracie kept to herself. Seeing her come out of her shell now is actually a bit of a comfort: Gracie hasn't quite got the snuggling together thing down yet, but she's trying.

Junebug's come out of her shell more, too. She was a little afraid of Muffin, so I think she feels like she's on safer ground, now that Muff is gone. She naps in most of the places that Muffin used to. I don't know whether that's a territorial thing, or whether she finds some comfort in using those spot.

My half-feral cat, Buddy, who normally spends most of his time sleeping on the bed, has now taken a proprietary interest in what goes on around the house. Several times a day, he'll walk through all the rooms, making sure that everything smells right. I often wonder whether he's not actually trying to find Muffin. After he makes his rounds, he'll frequently join the rest of us in the family room for a nap.

It's orange tabby Spanky who seems to be suffering from a lingering grief. I have no idea whether he knows that the anniversary of Muff's death is upon us, but some time in the last couple of months, he became much more needy than usual. He'd walk around the house wailing in misery, then follow me around, staring up at me with his huge green eyes. When I pick him up and hold him, he purrs softly, though I sense it's more from relief than actual contentment.

When baby Spanky came home to live with us, he immediately put Muffin on notice that she was his new mom, and he never stopped demanding that she take care of him! Even in the days and weeks before her death, he would present his head to her for licks. Sometimes she'd growl, and sometimes she'd comply. No matter how many times she told him to go away, he always came back for more. He loved her so!

It was impossible for me to make sense of her death for Spanky. He simply couldn't understand what I meant when I said she "had to go." I didn't like the sound of it myself; it sounded too much like she had been banished from my home, rather than she was sick and wouldn't recover. No matter how I phrased it, there was no way of making Spanky understand what had happened. All he knew was that his mama was gone and wasn't coming back. It was the worst possible thing that could happen to a needy cat like Spanky.

Spanky's neediness hasn't done much for my frame of mind. I don't generally object to being needed, but now, while I'm still dealing (or not) with my own grief, dealing with Spanky's, too, is hard. I hold him when he seems to want it, I groom him with the flea comb from time to time, and I talk to him frequently. I studiously avoid any mention of Muffin, although there is the rare occasion when I'll say to him, "I know, Niblet. I miss her, too." And then I slam shut that door in my heart.

I'm a cheap substitute for his beloved mama. Spanky had always wanted a cat family, rather than a human one. I knew that all along, but it never occurred to me that he would grieve as deeply as I when she died. Since Spanky has always been the baby of the family, I wonder now whether he'll ever get over the loss.

So it's being a tough spring for me. The dreary, rain-filled days don't help my state of mind. The disease of depression is hard enough without crappy weather and the loss of loved ones, never mind grieving pets for whom there are no words of comfort. I really hope that time helps relieve Spanky of his burden of grief. I hope the same for myself.

That's all for now, folks! Until next time, enjoy the special relationships you have with your animal pals, and please be kind to all the critters!

P.S. Please leave a comment so I know you were here! Thanks so much!