My blogs are posted on Monday mornings, but I write them a few days in advance. As I type this entry, it’s Wednesday night, February 1st, and it has been a very sad, difficult day. You see, after 15 years, I’ve had to say goodbye to our first “baby” — my Persian cat, Bailey’s Irish Creampoint. That’s right — he was named after my favorite liquor.
Bailey was very sick with kidney and bladder problems, and he had begun to suffer. After weighing all options — most of which would have been harder on the cat than on me — I made the excruciating decision to let him go. I was promised that he would pass on peacefully, and I trusted my veterinarian — who is also a good friend — to take care of my Bailey. I sobbed like a child for hours, and then worried about telling my girls after school that their kitty was no longer at home.
I broke the news to Ava and Maryn in the car, and to my surprise, they handled it extremely well. No tears, no screaming fits, no anger. The girls were visibly saddened, but they were in control. I wish I still possessed their youthful resilience.
It’s not that my kids didn’t care that our cat had died. They simply weren’t as attached to him as I was. Bailey remained rather annoyed most of the time, allowing us to rub his head for exactly ten seconds before he swiped the skin off the backs of our hands. If we made eye contact with Bailey when he was in the wrong mood, he’d growl and spray our faces with hissy spit. No…he wasn’t a cuddly cat, but he kept me company long before our daughters were born. Bailey and I understood each other pretty darn well: give me something to eat, make sure my litter box is clean, acknowledge me when I enter a room, and then leave me alone. But leaving him behind this morning was pure agony.
In a few months, I will receive an advance copy of my first book, Kat Tales — Stories of a House…Broken. It’s a memoir of sorts, a collection of creative non-fiction essays (that means names and places have been changed to protect the innocent) that describe my life with animals — the ones that I have loved dearly, and the ones that have nearly cost me my life. Kat Tales is also categorized as humorous, as I seem to find myself in messes worse than anything my husband has had to clean up in the backyard.
If you have ever published a book or written a lengthy article for that matter, you know how challenging the editing process can be. It’s very hard to know when to stop “fooling” with your own material. Editing is a lot like decorating a cake — you have to know when to let up, or else you foul up the entire thing. Right before I submitted the manuscript, I decided to trash the last chapter about a doctor hooked on animal tranquilizers and replace it with a piece about Bailey. The “horse pill” story might have been more entertaining, but rest assured that your jaw will drop when you read about our cat-astrophes with a deranged 10-week old kitten. After all of my animal encounters, I feel like I’m the one who’s closing in on nine lives.
Yes, it has been a bad day. I’ll dearly miss my feline friend, but I’m happy that he can live on… in paw print.