Sweet Woolly: RIP My Fluffy Friend

A couple posts ago, I thought my next post would be about the county fair this year. I was spouting excuses left and right for falling off the face of the earth, and I've had even more to add to that list now, with a family reunion two states away, a funeral, and a week where I had a doctor's appointment or physical therapy every day.  Not to mention all those other reasons I previously mentioned.

Then I received a custom order for a special wedding album kit through my Etsy shop, so of course that took top priority. It was also a good distraction, because I lost my best fur friend this week. My best friend, fur or not {no one else showed up every single time I needed a metaphorical shoulder to cry on}.

The cat of changing names, "Cheeto" came into our lives back in 2003. My sister is absolutely infamous for bringing home pets {not for herself, but for other people}. Usually this meant my mom or I found homes for them, but on a visit home from nannying in Maryland, she visited an aunt who had a cat who had just had kittens with the Maine Coon down the road. So she brought home this little orange ball of fluff who instantly became the terror of the house. It wasn't long before "Cheeto" became known as NoNo, short for "Kitty! No! No!"

When my mom left to watch my sister's kids in Virginia, I was heartbroken. I had just lost my 19-year-old three-legged cat after a long battle with kidney failure {and for that, I am sorry to my poor Pielington who had to suffer longer than she should have because I was so selfishly desperate to hold onto her}.

My mom likes cats, and she loved NoNo, but when I love a cat, it gets my whole heart and becomes a central figure in my little mini-universe. So she left him with me, with a sort of obvious lame excuse that she didn't want him  to get out and get hit by a car in Virginia. In reality, we live on the edge of town and are in a far busier area than my sister, who lives outside of town.

Her "excuse" to leave him behind was because she is my mom and wanted me to be happy. She knew how much I needed him. After I lost my tripod, NoNo jumped onto my lap, which was nothing unusual. He usually spread himself across my lap. This time he curled up in the crook of my arm and stared up at me with these soulful eyes that understood the depth of my pain. From then on, he wasn't NoNo anymore, he was my Woolly, my buddy. We  became so attached that he would yowl at the door anytime I went outside.
Some people don't understand the love we pet owners have for our pets. I feel sorry for those people, to be honest. The love I have had both for and from my cats has made me a better person. They were a part of my family. I mourned their deaths like I mourned the death of a person. Sometimes I think that makes me a terrible human being. Obviously, human beings have intelligence levels that can contribute to the world and make it a better {or worse} place. But with all the terrible things going on in the world, maybe I'm not so wrong. The only completely unconditional love I've ever gotten (besides from my parents), came from my pets. Just look at Woolly snuggling up with Zae when he was only a few months old. They were meant to be buddies, too, but that got cut short when Woolly started losing weight.

By the time he was showing symptoms, his BUN was 130. I believe it's anything over 35 (or roughly that number) that is considered abnormal. He was in stage four kidney failure. There were some things they could try, they said...but I couldn't do that to another baby I loved. I watched my tripod waste away, suffering to use the litter box, barely able to climb into her little bed toward the end. Those are the memories that usually spring to mind first thing when I think of her. I didn't want to remember my Woolly that way. I wanted to remember him as he was only a week ago: pestering me for treats every time I walked past them, "helping" me work on my laptop, playing with his catnip mouse. I know in my heart it was the right choice, though my heart and mind don't always agree. My mind is too busy roiling with the aching loneliness he's left in my life.
He had gotten sicker over the weekend before his appointment at the vet on Monday morning. We didn't get the tests back until Tuesday. He was starting to sleep in the bathroom. He was desperate to get outside to eat grass. He was throwing up foamy liquid. He was miserable. He was dying, and I couldn't prolong that stage because I couldn't say goodbye yet. Because it is inevitable at that point. The dreaded kidney prognosis. It's never good. It's always fatal.
I had to let him go. For him. He had a great life. I spoiled him with treats, and always gave him a place between my knees on the recliner {I could no sooner sit down than he was jumping onto the arm of the chair, waiting for me to kick it out}. I only ever did it for him. Tonight I kicked it back out of habit before I remembered....

Right now I feel like I have a hole in my heart. He left a void in my life and I find myself wandering about the house, looking for something and I don't know what it is until I remember he's gone. I'm looking for my love and he is no longer here to look up at me with this adoring gaze. How do you replace a pet you love? I feel right now like it's impossible...that I'll never love again.

I loved Woolly before my tripod died, but I haven't loved another cat since. That is especially sad to say when we have two other cats. But they are Mr. 67s cats. I love them, I pet them, I play with them, I feed them, I scoop their litter...but we don't share a soul bond. Not that special kind of love. That's another plane of love. The shade of a mother's love for her child.

Things I Don't Want to Forget About You

  • My mom always let you go outside back when you were "her" cat. Then she would get worried and go out and look for you. Imagine this picture: a woman in red flannel pajama bottoms, a fuzzy blue robe printed with clouds, and probably something like tie-dyed pleather disco shoes {I'm not exaggerating by that much, which is the sad part}. There were a few times I was waiting for social services or some such to show up after neighbors calling in reports of a deranged woman yelling "No No!" at their bushes.
  • On one such night, she was walking up and down the alley, calling for you, and I was laughing hysterically giggling like a lady because you were following along behind her, calm as could be wondering what all the fuss was about.
  • The way you had to lay on my pillow next to my head after I'd been gone too long that day.
  • The way you always jumped onto my tummy, kneaded the lumps {thanks, Buddy} like you were going to make the most comfortable spot ever to exist in the history of cat comfort--and promptly jumped down between my knees. 
  • Your obsession with boxes! Even tiny boxes...you kind of had an ostrich complex on this one, but I never had the heart to tell you I could see you. Like, all of you. Not just the tip of your tail or a paw. Everything 'cept the tips of your ears. Mr. 67 started this obsession when you were just a kitten! He put you into one of those plastic drawer things and you've been obsessed ever since.
  • I started calling you grumpy old man because you would growl at my sister when she pet you! And she was the one who facilitated us getting together. Ah well, cats are mysterious. And sometimes grumpy with only one single person in the universe. 
  • Your gazillion names over the years {yeah, some of these are embarrassing but this is what happens when you have a fuzzy little friend who can't talk back when you call him ooodly boodly). Those names include but are not limited to: Buddy, Bumpkins, Boysenberry, Buttonhead, Woolbody {sometimes strung all together when we were alone, or when we thought we were alone: catching my husband's look of horror that this was who he married was priceless when he happened to catch these moments}
But that is one of the wonderful things about pets. They love you no matter how ridiculous you sound. If we are lucky, there are a few people in our lives who you can be completely, completely yourself with. But almost all of us still keep some small part of ourselves back from other people. With pets, you let it all out, and they just love you all the more for the attention. 

This is the last picture I took of my boy. I let him outside, which he doesn't get to do much since we live in a busy area. But he wasn't going far. He just kept coming over by me. That was okay by me.

Love you, Buddy Bumpkins Boysenberry Buttonhead. You won't be forgotten, and I am thankful that we had the time that we did together. It still hurts, but I know my dad will be up there taking care of you for me until I can get around to it. Love, Mama

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