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.


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