The Summer of Zoey and Trixie

Zoey relaxes at home

It hasn’t been quite three months since we said goodbye to Sophie and frankly, we weren’t sure if we wanted to bring another cat into our household. So many well-meaning friends suggested that we “replace” her with another pet but of course she is irreplaceable. Any loved one–human or otherwise–cannot be replaced.

But then another person suggested that a new pet might “enhance” our life, not replace Sophie. And poor Trixie, she seemed so lonely and needy in a way we’d never seen her before.

So, finally, we visited the SPCA and fell in love with a little gray three-month-old kitten. One paid adoption fee later, she was ours. We were able to bring her home the next day after she got the requisite spaying.

After just 10 days it’s as though this little three-pound baby was always a part of this family. We named her Zoey but she already has so many nicknames, the poor thing is probably going to have some serious identity issues. Among our myriad terms of endearment for her: Bear Cub, Zo-Bird, Baby Bear, ZoZo, Smokey the Bear, Smoke Monster and the Veep.
The term “Veep” is bequeathed to her by Trixie who, in turn, has been promoted from her role as second-in-command to Sophie. With Sophie’s passing, Trixie is now the Boss.

Trixie, the Boss

The rest of the summer will be spent trying to convince our home’s two rulers that they should work (and play) together for the better of all mankind. Or at least this family’s personal happiness. It’s actually going surprisingly well – some hissing, yes, but also a little bit of playing and lots of obsessive stalking on Zoey’s part. She’s absolutely in love with Trixie and follows her everywhere. On Friday I caught her sitting outside of the  litter box staring at poor Trixie who just wanted to do her business in peace.

In any case, it’s true that Zoey has hardly replaced Sophie — I miss that little orange cat more than ever — but she’s also oddly exhibited some of Sophie’s habits and there’s a part of me that’s convinced that, in passing, Sophie gave her a checklist of things to do so that she could enhance our life.

I’m not teaching this summer so, in addition to trying to facilitate kitty peace, I’m also hoping to revamp this blog (details, new site info TBA), write, learn to sew, cook more, read more and generally enjoy life in a way that’s so far escaped me for much of the year. The first half of this year was really, really tough in ways that I didn’t expect and those difficulties came at every possible juncture–work, family, home, friendships. Now, I hope to have a productive but fun summer. I want to finish a book. I want to write more poetry. I want to eat fresh fruit and enjoy the summer sun and ride my bike and go for walks and listen to amazing, new music and swim in rivers and go camping and wander through fairs and bask in the evening breeze.

2010 is nearly half-over but it’s not too late to make it turn out alright.


Life after death

A few days after I posted that last entry I meant to come here and happily share that adjusting Sophie’s medication seemed to make a big difference in her well-being and her behavior.

And although it seemed true, I waited. I think that somehow I knew it couldn’t be that easy.

Of course she’d been sick for a while — the latest round of maladies started in late September — but then the end came swiftly, more suddenly than we could have expected. We had a great night together last Monday, the 15th. She relaxed in her favorite spot on the couch, stretched out to touch me at one point and even stood up and gave me a huge kitty kiss on the cheek as I gave her a little massage (one of her favorite things) on the shoulders.

And then by 4 a.m. she was dying. That thing they tell you about “knowing” when it is time to say goodbye, to make that awful decision — it’s true

I wrote about her death and my sorrow and the culture of grief for this week’s SNR.

It’s been just over a week now since we said goodbye to her and, to be honest, I’m still not coping very well with losing her. In the days and hours since I’ve cried more than I ever thought possible;  the tears are still there and they probably aren’t going away anytime soon. I’ve felt sick with headaches and stomach aches and although there other factors contributing to my lack of well-being, it’s mostly this —  this sadness, this missing her.

Yesterday we received her paw print in the mail from UC Davis. Cast in concrete and adorned with an angel kitty in miniature, it’s the kind of thing I’d see offered in a mall kiosk and dismiss as too silly but when I opened the package and felt the imprint, well I started crying uncontrollably.

Today it was a sweet and loving card from our regular vet that made me lose it.

I know there are people with worse problems, who’ve lost friends and family members and significant others and the loss of an orange cat probably pales in comparison on the Things That Are Bad in Life scale but this is MY thing that is awful and although I tell myself every day that she is no longer in pain, that she is better, that we made the right choice, I am still missing her horribly.

Sophie came into my life following a bad break-up and at first  I was a pretty questionable kitty mom. I remember, shortly after I got her,  taking a stupid magazine quiz that tested one’s readiness for having a pet. It advised me against even getting a plant — the outcome, the test results theorized, would be too awful. Still, she put up with me and loved me and along the way taught me selflessness and compassion and, most importantly, how that cliché about unconditional love can be so, so true.

Of course, while we’re on the subject of clichés, life goes on and lucky for me I have a wonderful husband and, of course, Trixie — a particularly needy gray cat who, in her own way, seems to be grieving Sophie’s loss as well. I imagine we will someday give Trixie a new companion, a new playmate. Someday, just not right now – we’re not ready yet.

This will probably be the last I write about her for a while — at least in this space. I mean I’m OK with being known as the weird cat lady but for now I just have to grieve until the mourning shifts into something less painful, something sweeter and more fitting for a scruffy little orange cat who, as Cory said,  “used more than her allotted nine lives to make ours a little better.”

Goodbye Sophie. I miss you but more important, I love you — past, present and future tense.