I admit, it’s been really hard to start writing here again. As I went through the hospice process and loss with my MIL, that topic overwhelmed everything else here. It was hard to write about anything else when that was the biggest thing looming in our lives. Now that the immediate, tearing grief following our loss is passing, we find ourselves embroiled in yet another very difficult family issue, which, in respect for that person’s privacy, I won’t be chronicling here. Just know that stuff is still hard and warm feelings and thoughts are much appreciated.
That said, it seemed like a good idea to ease in gently by talking about an easy topic: cats.
We have a new kitty in residence. When my MIL passed, her faithful feline, AbbyCat, became our responsibility. Abby is a rather portly grande dame of a cat – somewhere north of 15 pounds and 16 years, with a kidney issue to boot. She’s a mishmash of breeds but I’m guessing a bit of Maine coon in her history, based on her size and very thick coat, with a bit of ragdoll or siamese mixed in somewhere, to explain some of her marking patterns. She’s lovely and when in a 1-on-1 situation, very sweet and affectionate.
The problem with Abby is she’s always lived a life that’s all about Abby. She lived the only cat lifestyle, with a devoted old lady catering to her every whim. I can’t tell you the number of times Dianne would excuse herself from a family gathering to head home because “Abby gets cranky if she doesn’t get her canned food by 6pm.” This was not a bad thing, frankly. Dianne was devoted to her cat and her cat was devoted to her – the importance of relationships like these can’t be underestimated.
But it’s now a whole new world for AbbyCat. Abby is no longer the center of the universe; she now finds herself in a home with 2 adults, 2 teenagers, 2 other cats and 2 rather large and pesky dogs. It’s big, somewhat chaotic, and filled with unfamiliar noises such as dogs barking (at everything!), cats romping, TVs blaring something besides Fox News – all of the hustle and bustle of a typical houseful. Gone are the predictable days where things stayed quiet, food came spot on time, no dogs were allowed and Obama was evil incarnate. What’s a cat to do?
Surprisingly enough, she’s doing fairly well. My husband and I had expected her to sort of hunker down in the bedroom Dianne had occupied and slowly wither away. We’d been through this with another cat – a skittery little thing named Farris. When her best friend, our other cat Carson died, Farris simply stopped eating, hid in a corner and waited to die. Her kidney’s quickly complied by failing. She was gone two weeks after her friend. But not so thus far with Abby. Abby is clearly cut from more resilient cloth. We moved her out of Dianne’s room and into our own, bringing a few familiar things that would smell like home for her. She settled in fairly rapidly and now wanders the house. She’ll eat from the other cat’s bowls and sleep in the sun when she finds it. She’s still learning how to not be an only animal, however. She’s made peace with our little brown burmese and Cooper-the-big-dumb-dog but Sadie, our overactive border collie and Mac, the crazy orange tabby are a different story. Much hissing and growling whenever either of the latter happen to enter Abby’s space (like, the same room – Abby has a very considerable personal space.) Our hope is to simply hit some sort of stasis where all creatures can be in the same home with a bit less drama.
We don’t know how long we’ll have Abby. She is older with dodgy kidneys buy we’ll do our best to make her time with us pleasant – part of a family. I’m hoping somewhere Dianne is smiling.