Monday, May 07, 2007

ANNIE: 7/20/1994-4/27/2007 [L]

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I only knew her for the last two years. Yet I was home with her all day from 11/05 to her last. Suffice to say, we were good friends and loved each other. She wasn’t a cat or pet, she was a companion. More than that she was also Dani’s baby

Annie was her name. I preferred “The Kitty” or just “Kitty”. But she was no cat. Nor was she a pet. She was a good friend who gave as good as she got. Her current vet put Annie’s age at 16. She looked to be a Norwegian Forrester. She had a hyperthyroid that was difficult to control. Her arthritis was horrible. Her “first” vet was stunned by the x-rays. Showing massive scar tissue on her hind legs – indicative of horrendous abuse, kicking most likely, with no medical attention. Dani wept when she saw those x-rays. Still, she was an unbroken spirit. She would eat what she wanted to and climb where she wanted to be. In the end, however, it was her heart murmur that she couldn’t overcome. Most likely she was “throwing” blood clots to her hindquarters and towards her head.

Most should know by now, the story. Back in 94 Dani was home in Missouri from college for summer break. Sitting in a lawn chair, in her backyard, reading. Out of the woods comes a cat, trotting towards her. She gets near her and lets out a loud meow. Dani asks, “what’s wrong, kitty?” to which she cries some more. It’s Dani’s parents Anniversary. Annie is all belly and full of burs. Dani pets her a bit and carries her inside. Dani’s Mom suggests they put her in the pump house for the Father to “find”. This way he can “make the decision” to bring her in. The Mom’s devious strategy works. Two days later, Annie gives birth to seven kittens. Dani personally sees that they are all adopted.

Kitty had chosen Dani. Somehow. Just came out of the woods and announced her decision. And from the beginning it was obvious. Annie was Dani’s Kitty. Dani was Annie’s.

I really can't put into words how much they loved each other.

Soon after, Dani leaves for college. Right after Dani Leaves, her Mom realizes something’s wrong with Annie and takes her to the Vet. Her intestines have telescoped and she needs surgery, ASAP. She’s in danger of developing peritonitis. Mom considers putting Annie down but the Dad vetoes, saying: “Dani will kill us”. After that, Annie would allow no one to handle her besides Dani. Dani would come home from college and it was like they were old friends. It would take 2 years, living at her home, before her Mom could pet Annie. And of course, when Dani moved to DC so did Kitty.

And then I came along. Kitty took an almost immediate liking to me. But I believe at first it was only because Dani liked me. Later we bonded like I’ve never bonded with an animal.

And then came that horrible day in late March. She had what appeared to be a stroke. She appeared blind in the left eye, was making clockwise rotations, had a head tilt, and was having difficulty using her back legs. She seemed to have a disconnect with anything Left of her. But Dani was not going to take her to the Vet. They would want to observe her over night and that would not be acceptable. Dani has a strong, and justifiable reason for not trusting overnight stays. I had over six years of training and could easily recognize pain and assess pain levels. If I was unsure, we could always call Dani’s friend, a Vet out West. So we would watch, and hope she overcome this. The first two days were horrible. We worked with Annie, helping her walk, trying to get her to eat and drink, to no avail. She was upset. Sometimes crying out with frustration. Once, I had to hold her up so she could use the litter box. It was the second night when things got much better. She was walking with ease and during dinner came to her “position” next to me. That night, Kitty got my Chicken leg dinner. Both of them.

She improved over the next week or so but it was slow going. She had to do circles before anything, she was very unstable, and she didn’t purr much anymore, only when being brushed. Occasionally she would head butt me and chew on my hair. But nothing like before. It was heartbreaking. She was too unstable to sit in laps or be on the bed. She would come to the bedroom and look up at us, longingly, then settle in her corner on the floor. Still, we hoped for the best.

But then came two more strokes – “mini strokes”, in rapid succession. We saw one; she was experiencing head spasms, and at the same time lifting her right paw to her head, as if she were trying to brush something off her face. She shook that one off. The next one was early in the morning, again, she was falling forward. Unwilling to use her back legs, lifting them up from the ground. She could not support her weight on her front legs alone and would fall forward. She wouldn’t eat that day, not even the chicken legs Dani cooked for her that night. She did finally eat the chicken the next day and she started walking better. But we started to recognize that Kitty may not pull out this time. Dani and I were becoming increasingly distraught. That night we picked up Dani’s Mom at the airport. She was aware of the situation.

4/26/07 – ANNIE'S LAST DAY
It was midnightish when we got back from the airport. Things had taken a turn for the worst. Kitty must have had another episode. She was now circling counter-clockwise but could find nothing. She looked completely confused, disorientated. She couldn’t find her food or water right in front of her face. She moaned her annoyance. Both eyes seemed non-functional now. Her back legs weren’t working. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I just looked at Mom. It was only gonna get worst. It was time. We contemplated taking her right then but decided Morning was just as well. Mom picked her up and soothed her. Dani and I just sat there. Devastated. We started drinking. Hard. Drinking and Crying. My Mother-in-law just barely keeping it together. Welcome to DC, Mom. Kitty laid on the floor near our sofa couch, where Dani and I would be sleeping. Mom went to bed. I sat there with her, brushing her chin and side. She was enjoying it but not purring. I asked Dani to bring my Laphroaig Whisky. She said “can I get you a glass?” “No” I responded. Tonight I drink to Kitty. Dani went to bed, crying. I sat with Kitty, brushing her and drinking my Scotch. She closed her eyes and fell asleep. I finished off the bottle and went to bed. crying softly. Later, I could here Kitty drag herself to the bedroom. It was so fucking heartbreaking.

The Morning came in no time. We sat there like we sat the night before. Devastated. Dani called her vet and told them, as best she could while balling, that it was time. They fit us in for 11AM. Gave us an hour or so. Fuck. In the meantime we watched Kitty. She could walk again but couldn’t find anything. Twice she fell into her food, laying her head on the plate. I watched her drink water without touching the water. At one point, she looked in my direction and let out this moan. Instinctually, somehow, I picked her up and brought her to her Litter box. There, with tears welling up, I helped keep her upright while she peed. Why couldn’t she have died in her sleep? When the time came I grabbed her carrier, just in case, and two bandanas. Dani picked Annie up and out the door we went. In the car I told Dani that I knew this sucked but I was having a hard time seeing the road. Kitties vet was ~10minute drive. I handed Dani a bandana.

Luckily, I find a spot within a block of the Vet. Everything starts to blur. I’m sure there were people on the sidewalk but I remember no one. We get inside, Dani balling and me unable to approach the receptionist. I’m using my sunglasses to help keep my shit together. I can’t take them off. No matter. The receptionist recognizes us and brings us back to a room. She recognizes us from the Vet and she shops at Dani’s stand. We sign this and that, the receptionist being a complete sweetheart. Then the Doc comes in. Another gentle soul, going through the details. Being completely compassionate. She leaves, after getting our permission to take Kitty and put a catheter in.

The vet came back with Kitty and a towel. Put her in Dani’s lap and told us to take our time. She left us. We unwrapped her. We hugged Kitty, told her how sorry we were, and thanked her for her love. Kissing her. We tried to be brave and not upset Annie. But it was too difficult. Dani was inconsolable. Saying she couldn’t do it but knowing we had to. The Vet checked back in. Dani summoned all the courage she could and gave the OK. The Vet started with Saline. Dani hugged Kitty tight. I got on the floor next to them and took my sunglasses off. Tears rolling freely off our faces. As the vet started the first drug, Kitty lashed out with her free arm, trying to remove the catheter. I petted her, trying to console her. In no time she fell asleep, her head resting on Dani’s knee, front arms splayed on either side of her leg. The vet continued. I had to take a Bandanna to Dani’s face. As she would later tell me: “I could feel her heart stop.”

The vet confirmed Annie’s passing and left us, telling us once again to take our time. I don’t know how long we were there, sobbing, thanking her and telling her how sorry we were. At some point Dani said we should go. I left the room to get someone. A tech responded, entered the room, stopped short, and let out a quiet little “Oh.” She knew Dani outside of the Hospital. She gently grabbed Kitty, said she was sorry and she would take care of her. We each kissed Annie one more time on the head, said goodbye, and left. Not sure how I drove home. The silence that night and the next morning was truly deafening.

We have to wait until Wednesday, 5/9, to pick up her ashes…….…it hurts


Kitty, The Compassionate
When Dani was alone and upset, Kitty would come to her and gently pat her cheek with her paw, trying to soothe her, tell her all was well. The Kitty was always very concerned while I was undergoing treatment, often by my side on days I was feeling particularly ill. And when I slept late on those days, I would open my eyes and there was Kitty watching me with obvious concern, either from the floor or on the bed. She would then let out a little cry and go to Dani. As if satisfied that I was getting up and was OK. She repeated this when I had Mono. I would pass out on the couch and wake up with Annie watching over me.

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Spirit of the Kitty
She would climb up on the bed without the use of her back legs to be with us. She would play with toys like a youngster. She would “chase” me around the sofa, trotting until she or I got tired. Usually it was I who gave up. She would watch birds and cats from the windows – with hunger in her eyes. Again, climbing up onto the windowsills without the use of her back legs. On several occasions, she whipped out through a crack in the door to chase the feral Cats living in our back yard. We were scarred shitless when she did this. But we were proud of her. An ancient cat attacking young wild ones like she was a young killer herself. No fear. And she chased the two youngens, the Mom, and on one occasion, the meanest of the bunch - the Tomcat, right out. It was kind of funny to see how petrified they were of her. And Kitty was only 5lbs.

A Best Friend Like No Other
She always wanted to be in one of our laps. Wherever we were sitting. She would come up to us, get on her hind legs and scratch lightly at a knee until you picked her up. The scratching was as gentle as a human scratching, no damage, especially if we were wearing pants. Once on the lap – she needed petting. And she wasn’t gonna take no for an answer. Whether we might be typing or holding a newspaper, she would reach out with a cupped paw with claws slightly extended and pull an arm gently towards her for petting, hopefully scratching.

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The Longest kitty and I had been separated was Christmas '06. we went home to Dani's mom in St. Louis fopr 5 days. Kitty was so excited when we came home. She laid in my lap and rubbed. And purred. And rubbed some more.

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She was always with us and preferred it if we were in the same room. She loved being on the couch with us. But most of all, She loved bedtime. She often started at the head of the bed, always on the right side, just below the pillows. If she didn’t start out there, she ended up there. If a bad Thunderstorm came through, she would get up on Dani’s pillow and sleep curled up around her head. Sometimes on her head.

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And she loved her steel brush. We would brush her at night, on the bed. And she would brush herself. All I had to do was turn it bristle side up and she would rub her neck over the bristles. Kitty would come whenever we called. Even if she were sleeping, as long as we were enthusiastic enough. She followed us to the door when we left, and was at the door when we came home.

Annie liked to lay on the bed. A lot. That’s where we often played. But only after it were made. In fact, she would go to the bed and just look at you and maybe cry out if you didn’t respond right away. Then, after one of us made the bed, she would jump up and make herself comfy. And there we would often play one of her favorite games: Attack The Phil head. I would put my head down and feign a “head butt”, Kitty would grab my head with her claws, lightly digging in, pulling me to her. She would then chew on my hair. This was something she would do with me only, for some reason. She would go right to the base of my hair and chew, pulling up from my head. I could barely feel her teeth against my scalp. But again, it was done with gentle skill and never hurt.

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I could also lay my head on the bed and she would put her nose right in my ear and sniff. Hard. This would always make me giggle like a schoolgirl and she seemed to like that. Repeating her actions often. Then she would chew on my hair some. I always loved that. She even tried to do it while I was undergoing chemo. But my hair was so full of Toxins I had to stop her when she tried. I so enjoyed starting up again after my first haircut following my last treatment. It was very comforting. She also loved my armpits. I would lay on the floor or bed with my arms raised/under my head and she would just rub her head into my armpits. Often head-butting them.

What she did enjoy with Dani and I was head butts. Like how Rams butt heads. Occasional she would trot from one side of the bed, put her head down, and “BOP!” Then she would slide her head down against the head she rammed. Always enjoyed that. She also liked to lick eyelids. Waiting until Dani or I closed our eyes to start licking.

And Annie loved the backyard of our new place and had this thing for climbing stairs. She was obsessed with it. Kind of like an autistic obsession - she "had to" climb stairs. Often needed to do this out front as well.

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Her other favorite game was attacking The Dani hand. On her side, Dani would start tickling Annie’s belly. The Kitty would get the wild look in her eyes, extend all her claws, and start kicking Dani’s hand with her back legs, then get her front legs in on it. Finally she would start biting the Hand. It used to scare the shit out of me! Kitty looked like she was mauling Dani’s hand! But she never left much of a mark. Certainly never drew blood.

Another game we played was “steal the kitty”. I would grab kitty and run for the bedroom, Dani chasing me, shouting “Don’t take my Kitty from me!” If Dani didn’t grab me in time, I would fall on the bed with Kitty and Dani would jump on. This always seemed to excite Kitty – always happy to be in bed with us – and she'd always start purring.

In the old apartment, Kitty almost always laid on her back on the wood floor in somewhat of a contorted fashion: The front of her body twisted to the left or right with her back half straight up.

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Annie preferred water out of a glass. And if not on our laps, or eating food I was giving her, then she wanted to be on the table. If Kitty wasn’t on one of her pillows, then she would lay on black. She loved black - especially my backpack or black duffle bag. We always thought she liked the way her shedded hair looked against black.

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Kitty The Provider
One night last Summer, Dani was awakened by the moans of Kitty as she trotted down the hallway towards us from the Living room. Dani woke me up, jumped off the bed, and exclaimed “There’s something wrong wit Annie! We’ve got to go to the ER!” I sat up in time to see (by silhouette) Annie enter the room and sit up by the doorway, under the light switch. Simultaneously, Dani met her and flicked on the light. Annie moaned again and spit a very discombobulated, and most likely terrified, mouse at Dani’s feet. Dani screamed and jumped back onto the bed. It was quiet sweet of Annie to help out with the food, no? Still a mouser at that age is quite impressive.

Jolly 'Ole Kitty
Kitty loved Christmas, of course. And somehow she always knew which present contained catnip.

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Gentle, Happy Kitty
In the last few Months of her life, Annie could not climb up on the bed. She would sit by it and wait for one of us to pick her up. As soon as Dani started making Dinner, Annie would go sit upright by my chair and wait. If I was having meat or fish that night, she would get a bite for every bite I took. On non-meat nights I would show my dinner to her but she would still wait. If I wasn’t home and someone had taken my place, Annie would still sit there, looking for food from the person in my chair. And in these late months of her life, she sometimes preferred the floor. Maybe it was the arthritis? Sometimes she slept on “her” (what was once my) comforter in the closet. Sometimes on one of two pillows we had strategically place for her. And sometimes on the floor.

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Kitty also went from crying loudly in the Morning to wake us up, to waiting until we stirred. She would give a very low cry, wait for us to stir a little more, than cry louder. She was waking us up gently. On occasion she would stand on us to wake us, but more often then not, she would do it slowly and quietly. I have no idea why.

And through it all, what I remember most is Annie purring. All that was required was for us to be with her. She purred most of the day.


Kitty gave what she got and then some. Annie Loved us unconditionally and we returned it.

I still see her. By the bed, on the bed, by my chair, looking at me, waiting for dinner. In my lap, while I type this. In Dani’s lap, while she reads the paper. Dani catches herself looking for Annie, asking to watch out for Kitty when we leave. Every day Dani called me and would ask “What’s the Kitty doing?” I would usually respond “She’s out back chasing squirrels and feral Kitties, of course.” Or “doing cartwheels. She’s feeling much better.” And it’s so difficult to not sing our Kitty songs.

Nothing’s worst than the silence.

I only knew her for the last two years. It was more than enough and nowhere near enough. I loved her. Dani loved her. Annie was her baby. And we shall miss her like none other.

Her effect on everyone who knew her is a testimonial of who she was and will always be.

“Where’s Kitthhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee” Dani? She’s watching. Waiting patiently to play with us.

Thank you, Kitty.

Rest In Peace, little one.

Thank you, Kitty.

Rest In Peace, little one.

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