Friday, May 13, 2016

#A-TO-Z CHALLENGE 2016 – LETTER ”M” FOR MAMA, CAT MATRIARCH, IN MEMORIAM


It's with sadness that I write this post and highly ironic, for I've sung Mama's praises to the skies since the day she allowed me to be her friend and it took a long time for that to come to pass. Mama died recently after a long and fruitful life. She originally adopted JC, and actually, it's been one year today, since JC's passing, so that too is ironic. I'm not a person who believes in coincidences, or anything of the sort, but she had been JC's cat, and I worried about her after he died. Alex said she's with Jim now. Yes, in some highly disordered form, I guess.


Speaking of highly disordered form; there is no perspective here, but near as I can figure out, I am behind here, on my bed, and that's a map of the us of a on my computer monitor. I have no clue what I was going for here.

Yet, she was so affectionate and even closer to me than she was to him. However, about six months ago, she came down with Distemper and being elderly and having lived most of her life on the streets, she never really came back from it. Outdoor cats have a hard life and she really could not adjust to becoming an all-the-way indoor cat, which is what I would have preferred and once JC died, I had to keep the doors locked all the time – even THAT didn't stop two idiots from getting in, while I was sleeping, woe unto them. Mama ended up crafting her own little pet door in a window screen, so she could come and go as she please. It was perfect.

She spent lots of time indoors, and followed me all around, and when I sat on the porch, she sat on the porch with me. She had two older sons that would come and visit; they looked like her, just so much bigger. Mama was never a big cat, but she had such distinctive markings; such as I had never seen on a cat before. I guess as old Leonardo da Vinci said, “The smallest of the felines is a masterpiece!”, I take it to mean both in the general and the specific. But all of the felines are, big and small.


Gotta love essential tremor. I was asked "is it REALLY essential, why is it called that?" I thought for 5 seconds and my head exploded. Some dumb neurological term. "Dystonia" is muscle cramps. Every picture I take looks like art from the Impressionist Period.

She had her funny ways and ways to drive me crazy. When she was healthier, she played a lot with her toys and would tear around my little apartment and she could literally bounce from the bed into the kitchen, or from the bed into the living room. A friend, Nancy Cooper sent her some artisanal catnip mice and she went crazy over those. One disappeared, as such things often do.

She could be a little con-artist, too, as most cats can be. I was trying to get her to eat a good dry food and for the longest time, she acted like she hated it. So, I was buying her Friskies and feeding her this stuff, which wasn't really that good for her. This went on for a couple of weeks and I cut back on the Friskies, because it was getting expensive. I walked into my kitchen one Sunday and here she was, happily munching on her dry food. She looked up and the look was priceless: “Oooh, I am soooo busted.” I turned and walked out of the kitchen and she came running after me, hollering about how lousy that dry food was.


This looks like a graphics "feature" in Runescape3, where everyone's head melted for a few weeks. Good times. Good times. She shook her head JUST as I clicked the clicker.

But, she had a really wonderful thing that she did. I have 2 towers made out of milk crates on either side of my blogging chair. One holds a board and a mousepad on the right, and the other, on the left, holds a land-line phone, or a laptop. I have two computers in front of me, side by side. Mama would jump up on the right-hand side and “rest” on my mouse pad, or hand and gradually creep her way up my arm.


She's just starting to work her way up my arm. . .

Now this is a cat that I couldn't even look at without scaring 4 years or so ago, and we had gotten to the point, where she had to have some part of her on me, at all times, while she was in the house, or would lie down between my feet. She also slept with me, sort of.

What she mostly did was walk around on my head, knead in my hair, or with her tiny, less-than-dime-sized feet, stand in my ear. Or I'd feel little feet walking all over my face. But, her most endearing quality was when she would sit on my mouse pad, and reach out with one dainty paw and make me look at her. She would look into my eyes and she seemed to show such love and gratitude that she had a home. I will never forget that, ever. Animals grace us with our present and I was gifted with that grace beyond anything I ever hoped to see from her.


. . . Slowly creeping upward. My only regret is that I never was able to get a decent shot of her reclining on my entire forearm. That was pretty funny. She will be missed. Rest well, Mama, my heart!

I haven't said much, only very close friends like Jeremy Doll who is a fellow Leader of SpiritZ and horse enthusiast and all-around animal lover and such a good person, and Alex Cavanaugh and my Aunt Lande. “She was such a nice cat.”, Jeremy said. And that she was. In all the time she was with us, she never scratched, or bit and never got angry or irritated, she was just such a wonderful being. It was hard for me to fathom that someone had abused her, but she was blind in her right eye, and it wasn't from a cat-fight. I know what that looks like. She would occasionally get scared of the kids playing next door and hide behind the toilet and I'd go and take her some sardines.


Alex and I knew she was going to die and I was in West Palm Beach when it happened. My better 2/3, was all for packing up and driving to Tampa, when Alex called. I thought on it for a while, but said, “No. The offer is so lovely, but it's okay. You care. That is all that matters.” I called Alex back and he agreed. She was put lovingly to rest and will never be forgotten. The really wonderful thing is this; Her progeny gave birth to some more of her progeny, and I will have two little great x infinity grandbabies to keep me busy. Kittens are fun, but these will be indoor kittehs, except for playdates with Oso!

6 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You always have your memories of her. Those moments, like the one with the dry cat food, will stay with you forever.
You were a blessing to each other.

Judy Phillips said...

Oh Mama...

My heart hurts for you, Mary. I am so sorry for your loss.

There are very busy cat spay/neuter clinic days, where I am driving transport, and the hectic schedule and demands of the day can threaten to take my mind off of the individual stories/families each cat in the van carries. At those moments when I feel stress threaten to distract me, I always think of your Mama Kitty, and you, and JC.

You once posted about the day you and JC sent Mama to get fixed. You spoke of how stressful it was for both of you, the whole time Mama was away, undergoing major surgery. Whenever I feel myself being distracted by the stress of a clinic day, I think of Mama, and then I think of every cat in the van, and the stress those who love them are going through at that moment. I send up a prayer for each gato, and for anyone who loves them. I am reminded of what matters, and let go of anything else.

You now have two angels watching over you, Mary. JC and Mama <3 <3

Viola Fury said...

@Alex,

She did some really funny things; she would walk around on my head and back and shoulders and those little tiny, dime-sized feet would barely register, until she would stand in my ear. That was the funniest thing, ever, I think. There was one time, when she was first getting used to coming in and out of the house. Jim was still alive and someone had given us a small box of some kind of cat food, which he had left on the floor of the kitchen, after feeding her. She ate her food outside on the porch at the time, because she was still rather skittish of the house, but apparently not so skittish, that she didn't waltz back into the house, grab the small box of food and tried to drag it out of the house! It got caught on the bedroom door, and closed it partially. She bumped it, and worked it trying to get that food out of the house, then gave up and left the box of food, by the partially closed bedroom door. I woke up and saw this, so I had some early evidence of her "con-artistry". In fairness, she had been abandoned before and abused, so she was never sure if there was going to be a "next meal". But, she worked hard at that box of food!

Another fond memory among the many, Alex. Thanks for reading! <3

Viola Fury said...

@Judy,

What a beautiful post. Jim and I were extremely stressed that day and for several after. We were never sure how she would behave after the spaying, and we had to keep her confined for several days after the surgery, which was stressful as well. We had to take turns staying up, because as soon as she felt better, she was like this mad thing trying to get out and we were instructed that she needed to stay in. Jim was already starting to falter and it was hard on him. When we were finally able to let her outside, she took off, and we were afraid, she wouldn't come back, but she returned all happy, again, within the hour.

She was then very leery about coming in, and the first time she did so willingly was when Jim was hospitalized for several days. The first night I sat outside with her and she let me feed her, but she kept looking for him. I reassured her that he would be home soon, but the 2nd night, she DEMANDED to come into the house and looked everywhere for him. I had to open all the closets, cupboards in the kitchen, she hunted for him in the bathroom and high and low. Finally, satisfied, she just looked at me, kind of forlornly. I assured her he would be back and we sat outside for a long time and I petted her and comforted her.

When he was dying, she knew he was dying, and I was surprised that she was around as much as she was with all of Hospice and their attendant nurses, aides and equipment being shuttled in and out of the house. I was in the midst of playing my last concert of the season and as we were pretty prepared we had fewer rehearsals, and just the concerts. I finished on May 3rd 2015 with Shostakovich's "5th Symphony" an agonizing work for players and listeners, but I'm glad I did it. Jim was sleeping more and more and I needed something to keep me sane. I would sit outside with Mama, or we would sit beside Jim; she would lie up beside him for awhile, but not for long, but she would sit by my feet for hours.

I was so very afraid that she would disappear when he died, but other than being absent when the coroner finally showed, she came back right away, needing reassurance and started coming in and trying to stay with me, but she still couldn't stand to have the front door closed. I could no longer leave it open, because of the safety concerns, so I opened a window and she created her own "pet door" in the screen, a very satisfactory arrangement for us both.

She came and went as she pleased, but slept with me most nights until 2 or 3 am, and then would be back by 6 for a snuggle, some games and breakfast. When she got Distemper, I was relieved to know that adult cats generally got over it, and made sure she had plenty of good food and water, but as time went on, I could see that she didn't recover the way she should. She was elderly and although she was trying to eat, and drink, she was shedding even more weight. She was sleeping more and more, and going out more and not coming back as much. Alex and I knew what was coming. I was leaving food for her indoors and out, and she knew Alex very well. She would not stay in an enclosed dwelling.

Alex and I discussed this before my trip; a trip scheduled and I would not cancel it. Alex saw her once and she ate. She returned once to eat, but didn't. He looked for her for the next several days, and she never returned. He also went to all of the other places he knew she visited and no one had seen her. Upon my return from WPB, I crawled over every square inch of the crawl space under my house, went to every hidey hole I knew she had and visited the same places. I had called and called, but in the manor of elderly, feral cats, her time had come, and she left and died with dignity. This is partly what makes it so painful; I wasn't there. I wasn't there when Trotsky died, either, but that's another story. I have 2 kittens of her lineage to look forward to and that will be fun! But, as another great cat, like Trotsky, Mama will never be forgotten. Thank you, Judy for a beautiful post.


Kathe W. said...

awww so sorry for your loss. We have our Lucy who is strictly an indoor cat UNLESS we put her on a leash and take her for walks. Of course she has had all her shots.
She's a dear and we love her.

Viola Fury said...

@Kathe, Thanks so much for your kind words. As much as I tried to keep Mama indoors, and make her an indoor cat, it never worked. She actually got depressed when I kept her in the house for 2 weeks and she would have pined away then. Once feral, always feral, I'm afraid.

The kittens will be indoor cats only, but I'm arranging with the neighbors for them to play with "Oso", their pit bull puppy, who loves everyone and always wanted to play with Mama. "Playdates" will be strictly supervised, of course.

Mama had had all of her shots, but adult feline Distemper is not normally fatal, and adult cats do recover, but she never really came back from her bout with it about 4 months ago and she just became more and more frail. She will be missed and never forgotten. She was a wonderful, wonderful companion! <3