Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saying good-bye

For the past two days, after dealing with my feelings of grief, realizing that my 19 year-old cat (two months short of 20) Cagney was dying, I made sure everything was upbeat and everyone happy so she could go in an atmosphere of love and affection.

One piece of great news: the vet gave me some medication that she believes will make a significant difference in Oscar's arthritis, helping him move much more easily.

A reprieve! He got some extra hugs.

So we all set up a normal home vibe.

A very weakened Cagney laid in her usual spot most of the day - where she could look at us as if we were a television program when she was awake. I have a feeling she thinks of us as some sort of creature sitcom.

This morning a compassionate veterinarian and her assistant came over to help Cagney pass on to the next life peacefully. I don't think she'll have to be reincarnated because it seems to me she pretty much learned what she had to in the life she lived as Cagney the cat.

I rescued her from a family whose kids set off firecrackers in the closet where her mother and siblings nested - the kittens did not yet have their eyes open. To this day I don't know if those kids understand the damage they did to those kittens and their mom.

Cagney at 18I called her Cagney because the plan was to get another kitten - Lacey. But she was such a handful after being so traumatized it took me six years to get her, mercifully, socialized. I couldn't handle another cat! The other kittens in her litter and their mother met some pretty sad demises by the time she was two, so she was the only real survivor of the group.

This morning the vet said that some animals never get over that sort of trauma, no matter how good a home is provided. That made me feel pretty special.

BTW, never name an animal after someone with a personality disorder to begin with. The character of Cagney was a drinking alcoholic who had several issues and demons to overcome because she was from an alcoholic, dysfunctional family.

I kidded that Cagney the cat had a drinking problem as well - milk, milk, milk.

Actually her behavior problems were so serious, one of my roommates when Cagney was a kitten was a child development psychologist and would help me work out some of the significant personality/psychological disorders she suffered.

But come year number six? She became an ideal cat. Cuddly, quiet, attentive, rushing up the driveway when I came home, affectionate, soft as silk kitty.

And that's the way she's stayed for the past 13 years as Oscar and Mistletoe, my wee Pomeranians, and kitten Allie have joined our ranks.

The vet - who will always be welcomed in my home - gave the once over to the other pets to make sure everyone was fit, she said that yes, Cagney was ready to move on. The time was perfect - not too early, not too late. That was a relief.

It was also wonderful to share this touching experience with my friend Shannon, who has a cat creature she adores. Her support was incredibly meaningful to me.

I cuddled Cagney in my arms as the vet administered the first drug to help her go into a deep sleep before the final drug is administered. As she went to sleep, I petted her soft fur tenderly - I've never known a cat with such soft fur - and told her how much I loved her; how thankful I was to share the past 19 years with her - what a good girl she was and how happy I was that she was with me.

Oscar and Mistletoe sat next to me and Cagney, Missy especially was curious about what was going on with Cagney - they were bedmates.

Through it all, little Allie, my 10-week old kitten, dashed around, swinging from the rafters and playing with all the veterinarian's supplies - not to mention jumping on her and her assistant's backs as they sat on the floor, preparing to free Cagney from her suffering.

She had been playing with Cagney this morning and slept with her on her pillow last night.

And so the time came to say good-bye to Cagney for good - in this physical form, anyway.

The vet said, "You're doing a wonderful thing for her. Imagine dying in your best friend's arms being told how much you are loved."

And she was.

Rest in peace, my dear little Cagney. Rest in peace.


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