I haven’t posted much in the last two weeks because my 8-yr-old cat, Kota, was dying. I took her to the vet and put her down this morning. It was not easy.
Back in mid-April she stopped eating much of anything or doing much besides breathing heavily. Tests were inconclusive. Her breathing got worse and worse, to the point last night that I thought she was going to die on the spot, and I decided that waiting for her to die was crueler than a quick and painless shot. I wish that I had made this decision about a week ago, though, as her last week was not a smooth one. In all likelihood, it was cancer that had gotten into her lungs.
I picked up Kota as a stray in January ’03. She came out of the woods near my father’s property in Arkansas, at about midnight on a very cold night. She was about a year old, too pretty and well-bred to be a wild stray – in fact I’m pretty sure she was a neighbor’s cat – but she stuck around and I eventually took her to Memphis with me. I named her after what I was looking at when trying to think of a name – my father’s trolling motor, a Minn-Kota.
It is useful to understand that Kota hated everyone in existence besides me. And hate is the right word. Female cats can be like that. I lived alone for five years with her and during that time, her tolerance for other people, including my wife H, remained extremely low. When I moved in with H, she did not change one wit. I could pick her up like a baby,3 but she would give everyone else about ten-fifteen seconds tops before she cut them. There is something to be admired in her persistent hatred of the majority of the universe. If cats formed motorcycle gangs or nihilist societies, she’d be a founding member. She was perpetually like I was when I was in my mid-twenties – angry at everything.
But when she got sick, she lost almost all of that. She didn’t really have the energy to bite, or scratch, or even glare. When we tried to pill her after her first visit to the doctor, her attempts at biting us were a far cry from the old Kota. All she had energy for was trying to breathe. She was stubborn enough to keep the vet techs from pilling her, though – she couldn’t fight, but she could spit and hide pills with ease.
When I realized that Kota really wasn’t Kota anymore, and that she wasn’t going to get to be Kota anymore, that was when I could make the decision.
I’m sitting now in my study at home, looking at all of the many things in the room that remind me of her. I will have to get rid of most of them or they will drive me crazy.This room had been her sanctuary, because she hated all of our other pets save the parrot, which she tolerated (that is to say, ignored completely) for some strange reason.
The strongest memories of her that I have are all the countless hours that she half-lounged on my right, mouse-holding hand while I’ve sat at this desk, allowing me to simultaneously pet her and use the computer. For all the hatred she spewed at the rest of the world, she was the warmest, most affectionate cat I’ve encountered.