Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Our alpha cat, Rose, died yesterday. Sovereign of all she surveyed, twin sister to the late Marbles, she was nearing 17 and died of kidney failure, which seems to be the condition that most often takes down old cats. We administered nightly subcutaneous IVs for about a month (which I report only for the benefit of some I know who've done the same) but on Monday she told us clearly that she was done. We followed her final command and took her to our vet friend, then brought her home and buried her next to her sister.

Like all our cats, Rose was an indoor cat, and no doubt lived a healthier, safer, flea-free life because of it. Plus, when Rose did get outside, she tended to run and hide under the deck for the rest of the day. Last week we gave her a "Make A Wish" romp in the backyard.

Losing Rose leaves a hole in our household, of course, but mostly I feel bad for my girls. A co-worker of Karen's thought our mirror-image identical twins (one left-handed, one right-handed) needed mirror-image twin kittens, and we agreed. Rose was light-colored on the left side of her face, Marbles on the right. I don't know if Laura and Robin remember a time without them. The cats had very different personalities but were fiercely loyal to my daughters. I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful that the girls came home the last couple of weekends, knew the prognosis, and had a chance for final snuggles and goodbyes.

Marbles and Rose on my belly in 2008. Rose especially had the superpower of instantly drowsing me to nap merely by sitting on my chest. Two minutes later, BAM, I was out. I'll miss that.

Our remaining feline, Amber the Simple Cat, seems discombobulated and terrified to eat breakfast because Rose always got first dibs on the communal bowl. We are administering extra ear scritches.

They say you're either a cat or dog person; I disagree. I've had and loved both, but it is true that a dog only aims to please while a relationship with a cat happens on their terms. I respect that. When a cat lets you know you're all right, you know you've earned it. Trying to live up to their standard made us better people. I'm grateful for that, too.


Jim O'Kane said...

Very sorry about the loss of part of your family. You're right about cats, Brian - - you don't get to pick them as your pet, they decide whether or not they're going to like you enough to hang around. Hugs to you and the girls. RIP, Rose.

Anonymous said...

Sympathy to you and yours, Brian. I think it's neat how, from the crook of your arm to the top of the sofa and down and around, you can follow a stylized heart shape there. Lots of love between you all. All the best.

Mike Lynch said...

Cats are perfect little animals. There is no higher compliment than a cat who seeks out your lap and purrs at your touch.

That hole that you talk about changes everything. There is no "back to normal," just a new normal.

Sending you all the best on this very sad occasion, my friend.

ronnie said...

So dreadfully sorry to hear this Brian. It's like a star going dark when one of them passes. The hardest and kindest thing we can ever do for them is to let them go when it's time.

Our hearts are with you today.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Diane and I send our sympathy to you and Karen and, especially, your daughters. It hurts.

The paragraph here that touched me the most deeply is the one about Amber. It is so enormously frustrating that we can't explain permanent loss to them, or that it's okay to eat first now. The term "dumb animal," to me, never had anything to do with intellect and everything to do with that kind of frustration, a lack of speech.

Sharon Tuttle said...

Thinking of you and your family at this time -- so sorry for your loss! Your tribute to Rose was lovely.

Unknown said...

Short, but very heartfelt. I'm sure there was so much more to say but your family will always remember the role Rose played in your lives. Be strong....

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, all. I know most of us have been there, and (as I wrote when Marbles died) taking on a dog or cat means knowingly taking on heartbreak 10 or 15 years later. We're fine. Amber is still confused, but it's hard to differentiate that from the normal baseline confusion with which she seems to navigate life. Sherwood, nice insight.

Anonymous said...

== (
Nurse Sis

shrinking indigo said...

Oh, Brian.

Terribly sad. Hitting me EXTREMELY close to home, because my almost-17 year old cat has been diagnosed with the onset of kidney failure, and, I swear, could be a littermate of your twins. Same color pattern on her fur.

Unfortunately, her skin elasticity is so terrible that, although we were given an IV bag for subcuts, just the pinching of skin hurt her so badly that I didn't force her to take the fluids.

(I'd promised her (and the vet) that I wouldn't make her existance miserable, just to prolong her life, for ME.)

So, yeah. I fully anticipate going through exactly what you've gone through, within the next few months.

Sending love and affection to you and your family, including poor, little, confused Amber.

- Amanda

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, Amanda, we appreciate it. I don't know your kitty, but maybe it's worth trying the subQ again. Rose's sister Marbles didn't like it at first but we all got the hang of it and it gave her nearly six months of pretty good life. But tolerance varies; I understand some cats won't put up with it at all. In any case, she'll let you know. Just give her lots of love in the meantime.