We're coming up on four months since we lost Graymatter, and I've been avoiding writing about it.
I try not to batter myself over honest mistakes, but all I can seem to write is that we had a gutwrenching, difficult year, the best I could do sucked, I feel like crap. Then, that invites people to tell me how great I am and how it's not my fault. It's like trolling for comfort. Don't do it. Just read on.
We moved in November 2014, to what we thought was the perfect house, our positive step into a happy new situation after a very bad couple years.
We were sure it would be paradise for cats. Nooks and crannies, walled garden.
Instead, we found that the previous owner had made it a feral cat colony, fed them, let them shelter in the crawlspace, and definitely let them inside.
Graymatter was driven insane by the proximity to the ground, by the constant prowling of other cats around doors and under floors, their smells. She spray-marked all these places, constantly.
Add to that her constant campaign to drive her brother Downy from the house, a project that escalated after he was seriously ill in 2012 but dared to get well instead of dying as she wished him to. I joked for a decade about her dislike of him, but as it grew into some cat version of hate it went beyond my ability to joke.
In the new house we had to tear out the laundry floor to the studs, treat the studs with odor-combatting chemicals, and replace it with tile. We had to close her out of one room, then another, then we simply divided the house.
She lived on one side. Downy and Scooter on the other. Gray felt lonely and left out. She was alone all night, no more shoving my pillow aside to give her a place to sleep next to my head.
To give her time with her humans meant to leave the orange boys alone. Downy would sit in the kitchen watching us through the glass door that kept us all apart.
Graymatter got sick and then sicker. I was warned, God forgive me, that the tranquilizers I gave her could do that. I said I was OK with her having a shorter life, if it gave her a happier life.
I'll have to live with that, which would be a little easier if it had helped more, but it did help a little. I guess it did. It made her a little calmer. Then it destroyed her liver.
Through her last 6 weeks, we tried to bring her back. The liver can regenerate. We coaxed water and food into her. She resumed being engaged with life, exploring, demanding a treat-toss game. But her liver was distended and her body, despite her eating fairly well, all bone.
|On her last afternoon. The others knew she was very ill and did not bother her as she walked the garden, resting often.|
Larry found every egress from the back garden through which she could escape or be injured, covered them all with chicken wire, and she got two afternoons outside. I followed her. She roamed and roamed, smelled everything, explored everything. The second day, she did less, but flopped to rest often and then hiked herself back up and kept going. That night, at 2:30 AM, she died.
All through watching Graymatter succumb to heart failure, I could comfort myself with life being better for Downy now. The whole house open, his flopping places accessible again, evenings with us humans.
And he vanished.
He and Scooter went out to the back yard, as always, at about 5 AM, and Downy was not seen again for two weeks. 13 horrible days of my imagining coyotes, snakes, kidnapers for animal-fight rings.
I barely mourned my little girl, worrying if her brother was scared, hurting, being abused. His return seemed so miraculous, and the relief of not having to deal with her foul behavior so immense, I can't pretend to have given her the grieving she deserves. This is where I stop trolling for comfort, and reveal that I'm a piece of crap. It's over. I didn't help her, maybe I couldn't, maybe sitting with her that awful last night was all I could do, maybe not, past, done and over with. I don't want to think about it any more.
But I do. I miss the dear, funny good times. They hit me at odd moments, but I never forget how many years in the past they were, as things deteriorated.
"Lost pet" flyers WORK, folks.
Use EVERY RESOURCE, mass mailings, social media, everything, but do put up flyers!!
We're done with the house. It goes on the market when we can get it ready. We have my parents' house and we're back to our old neighborhood, some renovations done, others scheduled. It seems like a better thing. But I've lost faith in trying to do anything right. We tried it with buying that house. That Right Thing was Wronger than I ever dreamed.
Back on the marsh, things are good. There will be no more outdoor roaming for either cat. Both Orange Guys spend almost all day on the screened porch, and seem to find it acceptable.