Friday, February 15, 2013

Miss Towanda, Queen of the Jungle Kitties 200?-2012

This time last year, my cat Miss Towanda had gotten very ill and I took her to the vet.  She had stopped eating and was becoming really dehydrated. After a blood test they informed me that her kidneys were failing.  The veterinarian suggested I could go through a protracted attempt to get her back to healthy, which might not be possible, or I could put her to sleep because her system was so extremely toxic. The veterinarian said that she was in a great deal of pain, that was pretty obvious, and that because of Miss T's extreme blood levels she recommended putting her to sleep. Because she'd started her life as feral and homeless, I've tried so hard to keep her from suffering and to keep her comfortable, I couldn't bear for her to continue in the pain she was in.  Around 5:30PM on 02.15.12, I said goodbye and put my baby girl to rest.

Miss T was an amazing cat to say the very least.  She came into my life in 2003 shortly after my being diagnosed with Sarcoidosis.  She belonged to my roommate at that time who wasn't a cat person at all.  She had been a feral rescue and was still pretty much people shy when I moved in.  Being a cat person, I volunteered to take care of her.  Occasionally she would bite me when I was feeding her.  It sounds drastic, but it was actually very cute.  She was so torn between the dueling impulses of hunger and territorial safety.    With a good amount of patience and some tuna juice as bait, she eventually decided it was okay for me to pet her.  Eventually we changed houses and she came with and I officially claimed her as my own...or maybe it was the other way around.

During the first four months of our time together, I was taking a nasty steroid called Prednisone.  For all intents and purposes it made me psychotic.  I had several scary episodes while taking this drug and more than once this brave little kitty stared me down from a rage.  She didn't run away.  She walked up to me and meowed until she had gotten my attention and calmed me down.  I would usually end up curled up on the floor with her, petting.  I was out of control and out of my mind and this ballsy little cat brought me back down to earth.  I will always be thankful to her for that.

It was during this time that she chose the name Towanda.  I went through a whole list of names trying to find one that she would respond to.  Up until that point I had been calling her Mama Kitty.  When I moved in she was part of a pair, she and one of her daughters from a feral litter.  The daughter was very skittish and never quite took to human companionship.  During our move, due to a door I left open, the daughter escaped and never returned.  So Miss T went from being Mama Kitty to ONLY kitty and that was when the list names appeared.  Briefly I called her Knuckles because she was so friggin tough I could imagine wearing a sleeveless leather jacket, but Miss T scoffed at that nickname.  It wasn't glamorous enough for the Queen of the Jungle Kitties.  Towanda (from the movie Fried Green Tomoatoes) was the only name she finally responded to.  I shortened it to Miss T after she had stared me down several times because in my mind she had all the glam and toughness of Mister T. all in a four legged bundle of intensity and love.

She loved to nap on a tie dyed bean bag I had.  It was one of her favorite places to luxuriate.  In fact she was generally fond of intense colors.  Her favorite nap blanket was a repeating robot pattern of full intensity red and blue.  She also had a furry neon green pillow that was her favorite place to knead or as I called it to "make biscuits". One of her favorite activities was something I liked to call Stinky Finger.  If I had touched something that she found interesting, she would require that I let her smell my hand or the specific finger that had touched the interesting thing.  This became something of a ritual when I would get home from work.  She would do thorough hand inspection.

For a brief time she became known as Soccer Kitty because of her propensity at playing with her jingling toy balls on the hard wood of the kitchen floor.  She would bat them from one end of the kitchen to the other and occasionally she would require my participation.  I'd be washing dishes and she would bat the ball at my feet until I paid attention and played along.  I'd kick the jingly ball across the floor and she would bat it back.  We'd bat it back and forth until she got tired or I moved on to chores in another room.  She was always amazed at the audacity of the balls - How dare they jingle!?! 

She had what some would call a problem with Catnip, but she never saw it that way.  For her, it was more of a recreational sport.  It made her toys more interesting...MUCH more interesting.  I would fill a furry faux mouse with it and she would spend hours gnawing and licking it.

I was by no means a perfect daddy to my little girl.  There were many days I forgot to clean the litter box.  Especially when things became hectic and stressful in my day to day which sadly for the last portion of her life, was more often than not.

When I chose to put her to sleep, they gave her two shots:  one to sedate her and another that took her life.  I watched as my little girl fell asleep for the last time.  Unexpectedly, the veterinian hugged me.  I returned the hugg, amazed and moved by this simple gesture given from a woman I'd met less than two hours ago.  I watched the vet pick up her limp body as I walked out the door, blinded by my tears.  She cradled Miss T. to her chest like a baby.  I knew that my friend was in good hands.  The sky was grey as we exited the building.  When we arrived home later, my housemate Kevin pulled out his iphone and showed me the picture he'd taken once his partner Vinnie had told him Miss T was going under.  It was the sunset that was happening as she passed away.

It has taken a good bit of time for me to complete this eulogy.  Every time I've started working on it, I end up crying.  I'm crying now.  She really was my heart for eight years of my life and I miss her so much.  Rest in Peace my little tater.

7 comments:

Shannon Anderson said...

I love the picture of her sitting at th table with us. Still have it on my phone.
And you forgot the "I'll only drink out of the orange cup sitting in/around the sink"
She was a good, weird, sweet girl :-)

Shannon Anderson said...

Love the pictures of her sitting at the table, regarding my with constant suspicion. It was her way :-) I still have that one on my phone. She was a sweet, weird girl.

Jesse Campbell said...

I kept reminding myself to include the orange cup by the sink, but once I got into trying to write this and crying, I kept forgetting. Thank you. :-)

Miss T's last months at the house here in Wellford, I had to put her cup on the floor, which she didn't like at all. I'd forgotten about her needing the cup to be exactly full so she could drink from the edge of the water tension. She was always so picky about that. :-P

We lost three cats last year to what we think was either coyotes or a wild neighborhood dog. We have two now, Icky and Bleh Walker. Icky, who remains inside always, reminds me a lot of Beebee. She has big green eyes and is chunky and all grey and LOVES to have her belly rubbed. Walker, who has a sunset curfew, is solid black with neon green eyes. Bleh is also a.k.a. Ninja Kitty for her ability to disappear.

Shannon Anderson said...

We lost BB about a year and a half ago. We lost Homer in September. Both to old age woes. I miss the shit out of them.

But Fleagle is adjusting to being a mostly inside dog, Enzo is still the fluffiest bi-polar ever, and Flash, as always, is perfect. :-)

Wes Hansen said...

Sorry to hear about your cat! I know how it can be. I have a number of dogs. Two of my dogs, Big Girl and Purity, were killed by the same car on the same night. Purity was dead on impact but Big Girl lived for about 10 minutes after. At first I was holding her and telling her to fight because she was all kinds of tough but then her breath became rattled and I knew her lungs were pumctured. You know, Purity was incredibly good at interspecies telepathy and she used to mess with me all the time. She didn't care much for me because she couldn't manipulate me as I believe she was accustomed to. She's never been back to me. Big Girl, on the other hand, came back to me in a new litter a short while after she died and then, when about six months old, she ate a discarded nutria rat corpse which had been poisoned and died again! She's back with me now and I'm certain the third time is the charm. Keep your senses keen and perhaps Ms. T will come back into your life shortly . . . She'll be in a different body but she'll be essentially the same cat. That's how it is with my dogs.

Jesse Campbell said...

Shannon - Sorry to hear about BB and Homer. HUGGS. Kevin has a pitt bull named Tasha who is kind of female version of Homer. She's big, white, lanky and goofy and sure she's a lap dog! :-)

Wes - Sorry to hear of your loss of Purity and Big Girl. HUGGS. Ms. T was actually the returning spirit of a cat who was with me long ago named Alexander. She was as small as Alex was large, but both came to me through strange circumstance and gave me something I needed at the time. Ms. t's loss hit so hard because for all intents, she was my familiar.

The two cats we have now, Icky and Walker, share some qualities of the cats who've passed, but I feel like it's going to be a little while before I see Ms. T again. I'm not ready yet.

Wes Hansen said...

Ah, very well then, it seems you have the situation well at hand from an intellectual standpoint. If you will, allow me to extend a favored “stinky finger” of mine; I believe in the PC world it’s called “aromatherapy”: (http://editionsmego.com/release/eMEGO+053V). Perhaps it will help prepare you for the return of your beloved . . .

With regards,
Wes Hansen