Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shadowfax Is Gone

When our dear Raven moved into Maitri Hospice care, he needed people to adopt his pets. Two of them were his familiars, black cats named Shadowfax and Lilith Nightmare. He wanted his little kitties to stay together. They came to live with us in February or March of 1996.

At the time we adopted them we tried to get as much info about them from Raven as we could. He said Lilith was 5 and Shadow was 10. Neither seemed that old. We do know that they were adult cats, probably at least 3 or 4 years old. It also quickly became clear to us when they came into heat for the first time with us that they were the lesbians Raven said they were. However, our circumstances and our conscience dictated that they be spayed, after which they took no sexual interest in one another. They occasionally licked each other’s nose, more frequently harassed each other, particularly around mealtimes.

We sometimes call Lilith our little Sicilian cat for her muscular build and short glossy hair. She likes to roll in the dust and sleep in the sunshine. She’s the mascot of our condo complex, greeting everyone who comes up the driveway with a croaking sort of sound, wreathing their legs and soliciting attention.

Shadow, OTOH, was an elfin cat, with very fine, long, fluffy fur, very delicate of build, light, relaxed, a real lap cat who generally preferred male laps but would happily drape herself across a female if one sat down. Much shyer than Lilith, she preferred to stay closer to home and shade more than sun, indoors or outdoors depending on where her humans were, especially Corby.

Sometime over the years Lilith’s eye was damaged, in a fight, we think. Her left eye is dead now yet she seems generally comfortable. She’s too old to have it surgically removed, not to mention the cost. There may come a time when we’ll need to give her some pain medication as the eye gets worse. In the meantime, she’s a happy geriatric cat.

Not so with Shadow. She developed tumors on her teats. We monitored them and took her to the vet periodically for his opinion. They were not going to go away. He said they’d probably eventually grow into her organs and kill her, but again, she was old and somewhat frail so surgery was not an option. During the last few months we treated her with expensive oral antibiotics to retard the rotting of her flesh (and accompanying disgusting smell of rotting flesh). The antibiotics didn’t work so well after a while; we used a stronger one. We bathed her tumors in pau d’arco tea in hopes that would help retard their growth, or at least keep her relatively clean.

When I was away at Dandelion Gathering she took off and didn’t return for a few days. Corby had assumed she’d gone off to die. Then about three nights later she returned and curled up in the flower bed outside our kitchen window, but didn’t want to come in. She ate a bite or two of chicken out of Corby’s hand, and she purred for a few seconds when petted. She seemed generally responsive but very weak. Her breathing was labored. She disappeared in the morning and returned in the evening for a few more days.

During these last two weeks we phoned several house-call vets, emergency vet clinics, and her regular doctor inquiring about euthanasia. Even to take her into emergency the price we were given was $185. We kept in touch with the doctors but never made a firm appointment. We were conflicted, since she seemed to be passing in a manner of her own choice.

Then one evening she came indoors. I kept her indoors so we could monitor her better, even though she seemed to want to leave. She managed to get upstairs and rest under our bed for a few more days. She didn’t come out. She purred a bit when we reached under to talk with her and pet her. She got skinnier and skinnier and her coat lost its lustre. This Tuesday evening she came downstairs and wanted out. We let her. She’d walk a few feet and then lie down breathing hard. She managed to get herself down the steep, shady, leaf-strewn hillside where there was no human traffic and settle herself under some boards. Corby followed her. He went down to see how she was a couple of times that night and again in the morning.

On Wednesday we took her to the Marin Humane Society -- wonderful people! She resisted, the poor sweet thing, but she was so weak and so miserable we thought it best to give her deliverance. With her last little bit of energy, she bit on the lip the woman who’d been whispering in her ear to soothe and comfort her as she went.

She was a sweet, dear kitty, loving and much loved in return. Our lives were enriched by having her live with us these past ten years. We’ll miss her. In love may she return again.


Hecate said...

May she find her way to the Summerlands.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking care of her.