Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Our cat Maggie died today. She was nine and a half.

I found Maggie on the outskirts of Charlotte North Carolina in June of 1998. I had driven down for my sister's graduation, and to look for a kitten to keep Rita company in D.C. I worried being the only cat was making her mad with power. When I arrived my Mother begged me not to get a cat that weekend since there was so much going on, and breaking in a kitten is a lot of work. Of course, being the reasonable person I was, I went right out and found a little grey fuzzball -- who was covered with fleas.

Yes, my first evening with Maggie was spent with her submerged in the bathtub, picking fleas off her nose
as they rushed to her head to keep from drowning. I suppose I could have used a flea bath, but I was worried about hurting her. That, and I was kind of hoping my Mother would see this method as a sort of penance. She didn't.

Over the years Maggie moved with me from Washington to Utah, and from apartment, to apartment, to house. She was with me when I got fired (twice), and married (once), and I had hoped she would be around when we had a baby. I figured she would humor a toddler as long as it had hands to pet her. The other two cats are not so patient.

Maggie was, above all else, an attention whore. She could not stand it if someone with hands, or hand like appendages, was in the room and not touching her. She would meow and meow, just to make sure you knew she was there, and if that didn't work she would circle you, and finally stand on you in some way. There were times when I was ignoring her that she would turn to Sally for attention, running into her legs, and putting her head under Sally's jaw to get a semblance of physical contact. Sally was never amused by this and would always look out of the corner of her eye at Maggie as if she were some kind of alien life form trying to burrow under her skin.

Being touched sent Maggie into a very unique dance of joy. She never sat or laid down when being petted, she had to walk and stretch, as if to show you how cute she was, and that petting her was a joy and a privilege. It was so annoying. I mean, sometimes all you want to do is lay on the couch and pet a cat. You don't want them doing a floor show.

On Sunday I opened the front door to let everyone out to enjoy was what shaping up to be a lovely fall day. No Maggie. She was normally the first one out the door. I went to look for her and found her curled up on the floor near the bed. She wasn't sleeping, just sitting. And she didn't want to be touched. On Monday Ryan took her into the vet and we got the bad news: her kidneys were failing. We could have tried to be heroic, and put her through tons of tests and possibly a kidney removal, but I think that would have been more for us. She wouldn't have understood we were trying to save her. She just would have understood she was in pain.

I wasn't ready to let her go on Monday though, so we took her home. For the next two days I tried to get her to eat, bringing her turkey, tuna, and anything else I could think of. I would have made her a baked Alaska if I thought it would have done the trick. Rita and Sally would sit behind me as I offered Maggie these choice morsels, looking at me as if to say "she doesn't eat that much when she's healthy, and it would be a shame for it to go to waste." Piranhas.

Eventually Maggie stopped even drinking water, or moving around, or sleeping. In a last ditch effort I took her outside and sprinkled her favorite thing on the ground -- catnip. No interest. That's when I knew it was time. We had one last night with her in our bed, sleeping between us on the pillows, each one petting her and telling her how much we loved her. Then she wet the bed.

I was amazed how quickly she died after the vet gave her the injection today. One second she was there, and the next she wasn't. She was still soft, and her eyes were still bright, but something was gone. That's all I can really say about that without going into my enormous fear of death, worry about a lack of afterlife and struggling with the existence of God. I mean, I could, but Ryan will be home in three hours.

There are so many things to say about Maggie. She had the prettiest eyes ever -- bright green with yellow specks. She loved Ryan so much that, at times, it made me jealous. Maggie loved to play fetch with hair elastics, and would bring them back if you flung them across the floor. She loved really cold water, and would stand on the counter and meow in the morning until I turned on the faucet.

Maggie was my friend, and she will be missed.


Sarahbellum said...

I'm so sorry...

I'm sitting her crying. And I'm a dog person.

Amanda said...

Maggie was a wonderful cat - plus the only one of your felines who did not scare the hell out of me.
We are all thinking about you today - I know that this has been a hard week for you & Ryan.
If I can do anything for you, please let me know.

Emily-Ione said...

I'm so sorry Lib.
Oh, that made me cry. My chronic kidney disease cat is sitting here on my lap reading with me. Acute kidney failure stinks.
It's plain to see how much you loved her and that she had a spectacular cat life.
You 3 were lucky to have had each other.

mom said...

Yep, she was/is a treasure that you will always keep in your heart. Hard times, Honey--glad you could share with us. I love you so...

Tara said...

Maggie was my favorite - don't tell Rita. She liked to walk up and down me whenever I was sleeping over on the couch, usually at 4 in the morning. You can always know that you gave Maggie the best 9 and 1/2 years she possibly could have had, and when it came time to let her go you did it with all the grace and love that she deserved.

Shannon said...

I've been reading your journal since Amanda links to your witty posts occasionally.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I had to put my cat Smudge to sleep 11 years ago (almost to the day) for the same reason.

I love how you captured Maggie's life so beautifully. I know you will miss her. I think Maggie knew she was loved.

Wendy King said...

Libby, my heart goes out to you. I'm not a cat person... or a dog person... or really an animal person at all, but I was very touched (and at times amused... only you can do that!) by this post. All animals who get to live with Libby are so lucky.