Our cat, Rita, died last Friday. We had her put to sleep after her diabetes got the better of her. I wasn't going to write anything about it. I mean, I was, but then the weekend happened, and I got pissed about other things, and I thought I was okay. After all, she was 13, and sick, and it's more about quality of life than quantity.
Then yesterday I came home from work, put Meg in her pajamas, put on my nightgown, got in bed, and fell apart. I have been in a funk ever since. So, I am hoping that writing about Rita will help -- at least little bit.
I got Rita in 1997, four months after I moved to Washington D.C. I didn't get her in Washington though, because people there actually spay and neuter their animals. No, Rita came from a backwoods farm in North Carolina on a trip to visit my parents. She, and about 3-million other kittens, were in a guinea pig hutch. I looked in, unsure who to pick, until she climbed up my body to my shoulder and looked at me as if to say "let's go." We were thick as thieves from that moment on.
I was the only person Rita liked, and even that was intermittent. My Mom claims that at one point she had to call for help when Rita cornered her in my kitchen while cat sitting. I don't know if that is true, but I do know she tried to end Ryan's life several times when he came on the scene. One night especially stands out in my mind: Ryan awoke to find that Rita had used a single claw to open a deep scratch all the way down his side. "Why did that have to happen," he asked. The answer? Only Rita knew.
Rita may have been a bitch, but she saved my life. I was so crazy in my early 20's that I didn't know which end was up. I drank too much, I dated bad men, and I harmed myself in any way possible. However, whenever I thought of going to real extremes, I thought of Rita. Who would care for her if I wasn't around? NO ONE WOULD DARE. So, I had to be there. And she was there for me.
I would tell you about the end, about the seizures, and the turkey we fed her, and about the many times we thought she was checking out, only to have her rally again, but I would rather your last image of Rita not be of her infirm and dying, but alive and sassy. In the first year after I got her, I took Rita everywhere. That meant when I drove from D.C. to N.C., she went with me. Not in a cage though, but looking out the window. She would lay across my shoulders, looking out the window, grabbing bites of Taco Bell burrito, and having the time of her life. I think she even tried to flash her boobs at truckers.
I hope I did right by her. I know she did right by me.