5th Anniversary-Saying Goodbye To Jenny, Saying Hello To Dori & Dodger
It's the fifth anniversary of my kitty Jenny's passing, so I'm reprinting the piece-with some small changes now-I posted about 30 minutes after her last trip to the vet, it was truly the saddest day of my life.
But, there's also light, in the forms of my two little monsters, Dodger & Dori, and their stories are worth telling as well.
So thanks to all who indulge me and read this, as I can't talk or write about Jenny enough, she's as close to a soulmate as I've ever had.
Saying Goodbye To Jenny
My cat Jenny's struggle has come to a sad, but necessary end.
I just came back from the last visit to Jenny's vet she'll ever make, she's now at peace and her pain is gone.
She was seemingly healthy until a severe asthma attack two weeks ago, and even though she looked great when I picked her up after getting past the asthma attack, I started steeling myself for the moment that happened today.
I'm glad the last image I had of her wasn't when she was gasping for air at the emergency center.
She weighed in at about 5 lbs when examined by her regular vet 12 days ago, but from that point on, she just went downhill, even though I was feeding her solid foods and chicken broth 5-6 times a day, to where she weighed just over 3 lbs today.
She had a struggle trying to chew solid food, she started drooling and urinating, even though she wasn't aware of it, and, I found out today, her liver was starting to break down as well. In addition, she started losing her equilibrium, stumbling a little more each day, and even more wrenchingly, at times couldn't make the jump from the floor to the couch.
And it was like Jenny knew it was her time to go, as it took the vet three tries to find a vein for the injection, and she didn't complain or flinch once. Even the vet was crying as she administered the shot.
And showing just how weak she was, her heart stopped before the injection was over.
It was agonizing, but there was no way I was going to let her slip into that good night alone, for all the joy she brought me, the least I could do was be there for her death.
There's just no way to fully describe just how important she was to me, and how much I miss her already
When I had very bad days that left me frustrated or anxious, Jenny had the wonderful ability to take all that negative emotion and when petted, calm me down enormously with her complete calm nature.
I've lived a lonely life, that's just the way things worked out, so Jenny was the only one there for the few triumphs in my life, like when I went back to school in 1994, and started making the Dean's list. When I got kudos in a script-writing class, from a bunch of theater majors no less, it was Jenny who greeted me that afternoon I walked through the door.
It's those little things I really cherish now, like how I could hold the bratbeast upside down, and she'd just look around with a contented look on her face. I could also drape her over my shoulder and let go, and she wouldn't even dig in with her claws.
One of my favorite things was to hold her like she was Super Jenny, flying through the air like Superman, and for which she'd reward me with a very baleful look.
I knew she was special when I ended up getting her from the Humane Society.
I was going through a tough week emotionally, and decided, on the spur of the moment, that I was going to adopt a cat, and I did it then because I knew I'd talk myself out of it if I waited around.
And so I went, and immediately ruled out adopting any cat sharing it's cage with another cat, as I didn't want to break them up. When I checked out the cages with one cat only, other than a quick sniff of my finger, they'd turn away.
But the little black & white cat was different, she started rubbing around my finger and purring loud enough to hear.
And that was how I knew Jenny was the right cat, she was so incredibly sweet, which meant whoever had her for the first 2 1/2 years did an excellent job in raising her to be so mellow and happy.
I remember the way Jenny would be the scourge of the most evil thing she encountered, rubber bands.
I remember how incredibly fast she was, even towards the end of her life.
I remember watching Jenny's astonishing sense of balance when she walked on a box edge.
I remember how, when sitting at this computer, I'd feel a nudge on my chair, and it was Jenny rubbing here little head against it, wanting to sit in my lap.
I remember how, a few years after adopting Jenny, I thought she escaped from the apt I was at, in the middle of the night.
It tore me up, and trying to find her in a residential neighborhood in the middle on the night was a futile task.
I was sure she was gone.
I was in anguish wondering how I could have let such a thing happen, as I never let Jenny outside, way too paranoid for that.
And right when I was hurting and anguished, I heard a faint noise in the living room closet, and sure enough, when I opened the door, there was little Jenny, wondering just which idiot locked her accidentally in the closet-where she was quite comfortable actually.
The joy I felt then can't be described other than overwhelming and instant.
Jenny was the type of cat liked by people who don't otherwise like cats, as that's the case with some of my friends, and they weren't just bs-ing for my benefit, they genuinely liked the little beast.
And now she's gone, a living creature to being replaced by ashes, pictures and 16 years of memories so full of fondness and warm wishes, none of which would have happened without her, the one physical presence in my life for all its ups and downs.
Thankfully, Jenny fought hard enough two weeks back so I could prepare myself to say goodbye, thankfully my last image of her wasn't gasping for air.
I'm getting another cat or kitten at some point, I cannot picture my life without one, but this just hurts so much, as if there was any creature entitled to live forever, in perfect health, and surrounded by nothing but people who would worship and adore her, it was my Precious Little Horrid Bratbeast Jenny.
Goodbye Jenny, I'll never forget you or stop loving you, and even though my pain and anguish are going to be continue for some time, at least your pain is over, and your dignity intact.
I'm picking up Jenny's ashes on Tuesday, and to help deal with this grief, I'm planning on making a small donation every month, in Jenny's name, to some good cause, like the local Animal Rescue League-the only group that tries to place strays in good homes, or the Battered Womens Shelter, or Child Crisis Center.
I've found that when I'm down, trying to do good for others is one way to undercut that depression or grief.
I haven't been able to live up to that pledge as often as I'd like, but I do have two more monsters in my life now.
When Jenny died, I was still at the apts, with six months left on the lease, so the plan was to wait until I moved out before getting another kitty.
But, after one week of a silent, and SO empty, apartment, the grief over Jenny was driving me mad, I couldn't take the nonstop depression, so,one week later, I went to Pet Smart to see if there were any kitties for adoption from Animal Rescue League.
I've actually rescued a few ragamuffins thanks to ARL, they're the only group here in El Paso that works with strays, and I wanted to give a home to a kitten that needed one.
And it was there that I saw, and adopted, Dori, a smart kitty with a splash of white right between her eyes.
And another cute pic
When I adopted her, the people from ARL told me that they'd lock up their critters for the night, and that when they'd get there in the morning, Dori would have unlocked her cage, and would be sitting on top of it, waiting to be fed when the ARL saints arrived in the morning.
She also has a laser-like focus, no short term memory only for Dori, as one night, she got hold of a tamale shuck. Even though I tossed it immediately, she'd keep running back to the spot it dropped on the floor. So I locked her in my bedroom for a "time out", hoping it would calm her a bit, but every time I let her out, she ran back to the same spot the shuck hit the ground, and this was in spite of about three "time outs", lasting about an hour altogether.
One thing I noticed right away, was that while Jenny was a VERY low-maintenance kitty (I never had to get after her for anything, she was a very calm, placid cat), Dori, being only about three months, was a very high-maintenance cat, something that could cause problems with the landlords and other tenants at my apts.
One perfect example, Dori likes to bounce off the walls. That's not just hyperbole or overheated rhetoric, she really does like to run, jump as high as she can, and bounce off the walls when she's really wound up.
It was never fun having to try and stop her when Dori was playing, but at the time, I couldn't let her bounce around, as the apts. walls were thin, and every time she'd bounce off the pantry door it made a hell of a racket.
Of course, Dori only bounced off the walls and doors starting at about 11:00 pm.
But we slowly got used to each other, and one memory really stands out about our early days together.
About a month after I lost Jenny, I started crying.
Dori came up and nudged me with her paw, cocking her head to the side at the same time, as if asking if she could help.
Which just made me cry even harder, resulting in one major hug for Dori.
But since she was such a little hellraiser as a kitten, I started having to sleep with my boots on, as Dori would attack my feet otherwise, and soon after I got her, her claws and bites went from being so cute and ticklish to really painful.
Dori's been a real wild-child since I got her, first openly-defiant critter I've ever been involved with. A high-maintenance cat in terms of having to watch her every move, because she's not just smart, she's scary smart, applying the knowledge she learns, usually just to exasperate me.
Dori also likes to burrow into empty boxes, with discarded twelve-packs being her favorite (pics on that later).
What I love most about Dori, though, is that after about a year, she started wanting to sit, lay & sleep in my lap on a constant basis.
Thankfully, I was able to move out of the apt, and was focusing on raising Dori in a new place, one where she could bounce off the walls & doors and not bother anyone.
About 5 months after moving into the new digs, fate threw another surprise my way.
One day in May 2008, I went outside to put down my car's windows, so it wouldn't be scorching inside if I went anywhere, and the instant the screen door closed behind me, I saw a gray blur heading at me, and before I could react in any way, there was a kitten rubbing against my legs, purring loud enough to hear without stooping or bending.
He was only about three months old, and looked slightly scrawny, which meant he was a stray.
I fed the little guy some chicken in the fridge, at which point he plopped down on his side and purred even louder than before, and I figured he'd be moving on his merry way fairly soon after his meal.
But he didn't, he stuck around.
I started worrying about him, as I live right next to two busy streets, one of them a major artery for getting around.
What held me back from letting him in was that I didn't know if he had any illnesses that he could pass on to Dori.
But since Dori's immunizations were still current-for Rabies and Feline Leukemia-I let the little guy in. And I mean little, he was only about three pounds, while Dori was in the 12-15 lb range, mainly muscle.
Right away, she hissed and growled at the intruder, even though she'd been playing with him in the spaces under the screen door-spaces because the rubber molding at the bottom has split off from the door.
I put Dori in the bedroom to cool off, while the gray usurper checked things out.
I figured I'd be able to place him with Animal Rescue League, an organization that takes in strays, gets them fixed and immunized, then places them for adoptions at a reasonable price.
I was able to place a kitten with ARL a few years before, and that's where I adopted Dori from, although they can't help if the cat's tests come back positive for something like Feline Leukemia.
Well, they couldn't take this guy at the time, they were swamped with stray dogs & cats, with no other group taking strays.
And Animal Control would keep him for three days, then euthanize him.
I just couldn't bear the thought of this little guy getting put to sleep before he'd had any kind of chance to live, so I decided I'd get him his shots and get him fixed-at low cost or free with help from other animal-rescue groups, figuring it would make him easier to place.
Eventually, Dori calmed down enough to let her out, and she and the kitten were wary of each other.
Until the little bastard started playing with Dori by stalking and attacking her whenever he had a chance. But within a few hours, Dori was starting to lighten up and play with the little guy, even though she'd still hiss at him at the same time.
As the week went by, I started getting the feeling that the little guy was going to be sticking around, so I knew he needed a name, something other than "little guy", "little bastard" or "hey you".
I was nervous about his tests, if any came back positive, ARL wouldn't take him, it's only critters with negative tests which get spayed/neutered, which is mandatory before ARL will take strays and place them for adoption.
So when I took him to get his tests & shots all the tests came back negative, and that's key with feline leukemia. If a cat doesn't have the disease, it can be prevented with an immunization, so I didn't have anything to worry about Dori getting any nasty bug or virus from the kitten.
Which brings us to the name.
Since he'd managed to stay away from all the traffic, larger cats, dogs, predators and sick humans who like to hurt cats, I thought the name "Dodger" was particularly appropriate.
Here, he's a very cute, non-fuzzy kitten.
Dodger's fur is really interesting, depending on how the light hits it, it's either black, grey, white-in places-or silver, as this pic shows.
Dodger's even more of a psycho kitty than Dori ever was, although, since there's only about a year's difference in their ages, and their similarity in size, they're a pretty good fit.
So now that she's about two years old, Dori's considered an adult cat, while Dodger, even though he's more insane than Dori was at the same age, keeps his claws in when he plays with me, something it took longer for Dori to control.
History has repeated itself in an amusing way with both Dori and Dodger. When I first got Dori, since she was so unpredictable, and had sharp claws & teeth, that I actually had to sleep with my boots on, because she'd attack my feet whenever she could.
I'll be damned if I didn't have to do the same thing again all over again with the grey usurper, sleep with my boots on because rowdy kitty Dodger likes to play.
But for all their exasperating stunts-like running around and playing-and sometimes fighting-when I'm about to go to bed, Dori & Dodger are a blast to watch and play with, they are the perfect tonic for when I get aggravated by the stupidity which politics draws out far too often, or when I get sad about my little ray of sunshine, Jenny.
Jenny's death is what directly led to Dori & Dodger being here now, so while I still grieve her passing, I also rejoice over the new lives in my life.
Finally, my favorite, even though Psycho Monster Dodger is now larger-over 20 lbs, and it's pure muscle-than Pretty Monster Dori, such a sweet pic.
And for all the pics, go HERE