Our hearts were broken when, after a couple really positive days with the rescued kitten, she started going downhill. I had a few hours of realization that we were going to lose her, and I fought as best I could. Then I said my goodbyes and prayers. But still she fought on. I called the vet at 7 AM and begged what to do. He told me to feed her water to keep her hydrated and against my body for warmth. She was a fighter and she’d hold on until we could meet them at the clinic at 9. “She’ll hold on.”
I did my best, knowing it was only a panacea, and as I pulled out of the driveway and went a 1/2 block, I knew she had died, at 8:20. She was two weeks and two days old. I brought her back upstairs, and called the vet, who was really pissed. We tried so hard. I’d had her in the night before and she’d been given two doses of fluids, but we all knew in the back of our minds that this wasn’t enough. We did our best and she was surrounded with love and affection she would have never known.
I was so worried about Brent. He had held her for over four hours that night, fussing over her fleas and stroking her head, purring against his chest. The loss of Toshi had been devastating and the sudden loss of Dahni was too horrible. I was so afraid that Brent would really be heart broken this time, and put an end to pets in our life.
I cleaned things up and moved her to a cool spot so we could bury her together when he came home from work. I didn’t want to call him and tell him as things have been crappy at work and I didn’t want to stress him out. I finally ate something and tried to sleep. Three days without much sleep sends me into a kind of stupor where I’m totally exhausted but completely awake – a walking vegetable. I finally took some drowsy pills and tried my best.
At 2:30 PM, the phone rang and it was one of the vets who had worked on the little girl the night before. She told me how sad she was, and angry, that we’d lost her, and then told me that she knew I didn’t believe in grief replacement. I don’t. I think it is totally unfair for a parent, or an adult, to immediately replace a dead animal with another just to avoid the suffering and grieving process. Ridiculous. Grieving is part of life and denying it is short cutting your life’s emotions. You can’t replace something so fast.
I started to say yes, but she interrupted me and asked me to just listen to this story and consider this. She told me that there was a young man there, a student (which means someone in college) who had come out of his exercise club to find the most darling kitten that cuddled and rubbed all over him. The security guard told him someone had just dropped her off the day before and no one wanted her. “But she’s so beautiful and loving.” But no one wants a street cat.
The student couldn’t take her, since he lives in a dorm sorta situation with three other students, and the contract for the apartment states no pets except for one fish. He left her there, inserting his music earphones and headed the three and a half blocks home. At the door to his building, he took off his headphones to get the key out and heard a little squeak behind him. She had followed him home.
The moment I heard those words I was up and out of the bed. In my family, the best pets “come” to us, they aren’t sought out. I have been in “waiting for arrival” mode for a couple of months and I thought the kitten from our garden might be the one, but when I heard “followed me home” bells went off.
I asked how long they could wait until I got there. Instead of answering, he said, “Let me tell you what color it is.” I said, “I don’t care. I’m on my way. Can you wait?” “She’s black and white.” “Of course she is!”
In my family, not only do the best animals come to us, they are all black and white. It’s a theme. A couple of calicos, but for the most part, black and white, or completely black with a spot of white almost invisibly somewhere.
And not only are they black and white, but famous for following us around. We used to have a mother cat when we were kids called “Murp” because she was always so pregnant, she couldn’t meow, only “murp”. No matter how pregnant she was, she would follow us through the fields, waddling along at her own pace, all over the countryside. Toshi and I would go hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing in the forest and walking around all the time on the leash and without. We’ve always had cats that followed us.
I jumped into clothing, after taking a wash cloth bath (three days no sleep – two days no bathing….ick!), and raced in the car to the clinic. The moment I walked in the door they jumped up and said my name. It was like we’d always known each other. The kitten about jumped into my arms. She turned around in my arms a couple of times, snuggled down and started sucking my finger.
His girlfriend said, “See, she loves you already.”
And it was totally love at first sight.
The boy had tried calling everyone he knew for two days, hiding the kitten in his flat. No one wanted her. They had some lame excuses, too. Black cats are bad, unhealthy, evil, bad luck. Too young, Street cat. But this thing, which has no name yet, is an absolute charmer.
She is black with a white belly and chest. She is literally a ball of thick fur, and it is unique as there are white hairs among the black, like stars in the night sky. Her ears are all salt and pepper with a thick batch of white hairs between the black ones. Very unusual. Soft, cuddly ball of black stars.
She had the biggest blue-green eyes that overwhelm her whole head. Totally eyes. And when she looks at you, you just melt. Even anti cat friends of mine are melting immediately.
She is five or six weeks old, been with her mother until very recently, is teething, and sucking and chewing on everything in sight. Energetic, full of piss and vinegar, and a total charmer.
I asked them if the vets had told them the home and lifestyle this little Moteck (Mo-teck – means sweetheart) was going to. The said yes, they had heard all about Dahni, the blind toilet trained kitty, and I told them about our travels in airplanes and all over that this little gem would be experiencing. They were jealous of her, but thrilled that we cared enough to haul our pets with us.
The boy is a student at the university studying biology, with the goal of being a vet, but recently concentrating more on the study and research of big cats, so he was fascinated that we were nature photographers.
I brought our Moteck home and put her in a big box I had gotten for the kitten as a crib but hadn’t used. It was 4:30 and Brent would be home in 30 minutes and panic set in. How could I tell Brent about the kitten dying and then introduce a new one immediately, when he was angry at me for six months for bringing Dahni into our lives so soon (over a year) after Toshi died. How to do this? I panicked and called my dad, who had been awesome that morning when I called to tell him we’d lost the kitten.
Once he woke up, he told me how thrilled he was at the new kitten and agreed this was meant to be. And then my father, not the fountain of caring sentimentality, told me not to worry about Brent. He said that the only reason Brent loved the little kitten and would embrace this one was because “he loves you more than you can even imagine and he will do anything for you and to make you happy.”
I was stunned. Probably one of the nicest things he’s ever said to me. Told me how I might not appreciate how much Brent loves me, but when he was with us in Israel, “I saw him looking at you when you weren’t looking, and that man really loves you. Your happiness means more to him than anything.” Amazing.
And he added that from the description of the new kitten, she couldn’t help to win him over immediately.
Brent knew the moment he walked in the house and saw my face that his fears were confirmed. The kitten was gone. I told him about the morning and that we would bury her this evening when the weather cooled, and bury her near where we buried Dahni in the back garden of the apartment, a jungle place.
Then we talked about his work and life, moving through a thick cloud of “let’s act normal” and finally the time was right. I told him the story and took him into the living room.
I hate it when my father is right. She totally swept him away. The two are almost inseparable. After playing with her for a while, he laid down on my lap in the middle of the living room floor and she crawled up into his arms and fell asleep while he rubbed her head. Amazing.
I finally got them into bed and we all three snuggled until I finally slept for about 30 minutes. Brent refused to turn out the light cuz he wanted to play and look at her. She is a beauty queen of cats. I’ve had cute cats, but never a beauty like this. A little royalty.
She snuggled right up to my neck on her own and fell asleep.
We buried the kitten and came back to play with the new light in our life, and that is when the last clue came into play that proved to us that we had made the right decision. Lying on the bed, she suddenly went into “big tail.” This is something Dahni did at about 10pm most nights, like clockwork, until we started crossing time zones and screwing with his clock. He would jump up on the bed and his tail would shoot straight up with his back in an arch. The hair on his back would stand straight up and the short hair on this tail would fluff out a good couple of inches like a porcupine bristling, straight out from the tail bone, a bottle scrubber bristle. Dancing around on his toes, he would attack everything and nothing in a sideways bounce forward and backwards, hissing and growling and spitting. We knew to stay away from him for the 5-10 minutes he put on this show, so we’d warn “Big Tail” loudly and watch the antics from a distance.
Well, our little mistress of the night went into the sideways dance of “big tail” and Brent and I just looked at her and declared her an official VanFossen family member.
So enough sop. We are in love. She’s been with us now for 24 hours and we are experimenting with names. She is healthy as a horse, dog, and a few other animals, and an absolute joy. Unconditional love is back in our lives.
Tel Aviv, Israel