Kimmy's Last Journey
Ten years ago a cat from the neighbourhood was more or less scratching in our garden about almost every day. It was Kimmy the cat, she lived three front doors away with a family which had quite a menagerie of pets, three cats (Kimmy and her kittens), a dog and an aviary full of all kinds of birds.
Kimmy was a peaceful and quiet pussycat, who apparently did not stand up for herself a lot, because the other cats in the home drove her away from the cat's bowl. Consequently she tried to find some food in the neighbourhood. Just like in our garden.
In the progress, Kimmy clearly tried to make some contact. My wife and daughters were moved soon, and at times they gave her some cat's food. Initially they did not think of adoption... We had accomodated some pets before, the small ones like hamsters, mice and fish, but we did never consider a larger pet like a cat or a dog.
Kimmy appeared to be a stayer. As soon as she noticed that we were kind for her, she brought in some presents. A goldfish from a pond in a garden in the neighbourhood. A little bird she had snatched somewhere. A field mouse which had not been fast enough to escape. The ladies did appreciate the gesture, but could not value the presents themselves. With a shiver of horror they discarded fish, bird and mouse in the garbage container.
Nevertheless Kimmy kept coming by. In an unguarded moment she slipped inside through the back door, settled down and declared herself member of our family. Even though one of my daughters brought Kimmy back to her home every night, even before she returned, Kimmy already jumped on our fence and tried to get in with us.
They say that cats choose their houses and families.
Fortunately Kimmy's owner agreed on this statement, even though her kids believed for some time that we had stolen their pussycat. But no, it actually was the cat's own choice. Initially she sometimes climbed over the fence to take a look at her previous home, but after some time she stayed with us permanently.
Then it became time to make work of pet's care with good food, a lot of comfort, a regular visit to the vet for health maintenance and stays in a cat's hostel if we were on holiday ourselves.
Kimmy lived with us from 1999. She was a sweet pussycat who soon had her favourite spots in the home. The most favourite spot, however, was on our laps. They say that cats are no cuddlers, but Kimmy was one definitely! In her own and unique way she showed herself as a real household pet for day and night.
She refused to stay downstairs at night. Kimmy jumped against the doorhandle until it gave way, so that the door opened and she could patter up the stairs to our bedroom door, where she repeated the trick in order to find a nice warm spot with us on the bed. Purring and licking she prevented our irritation about the late hour and made us shift a bit to make some room. Then she made herself comfortable and fell asleep. At a certain moment we made a cat flap in our bedroom door, because her jumping against the doorhandles made too much noise.
In this way she became a full member of the family. She was quite aware of the timing of getting up and going to bed. At night she was ready to go upstairs with us (she liked to sit on your lap while reading in bed) and in the morning she awoke us at 6.30 sharp. Habits are there to be maintained, during the week and in the weekends.
In this period we got a bond with Kimmy. The ladies of the family experienced that quite soon, after a while I felt the same way. Kimmy had something caring, she jumped on your lap if you felt yourself stressed, sad or bad. She drew your attention as soon as she noticed that you were angry or worrying, just to distract you or cheer you up.
On the other hand she loved to be cuddled, as if she were a little kitten which was caressed and carried around by the adult cats. I used to pick her up and hold her against my shoulder. A delighted purring was my reward, plus a very disappointed expression in her eyes as soon as I put her down again.
Cuddling was not her only hobby. She also appeared quite sensitive (in a positive sense) for the crystal therapy, my wife gave her. She loved to be balanced with the rhinestone, it became an almost daily ritual. She got completely quiet and peaceful and did not attempt to lash out at the stone. In this way Kimmy gave my wife the confidence, that she could help other people and even pets too. The same happened with the Bach flower remedies. Kimmy reacted extremely well on them when she was restless.
Kimmy was six years of age when she came with us and in the next ten years she became a vital old lady of sixteen, blooming with health and quite satisfied with her life.
If things just go on this way, you never think about the fact that it will not last forever. Some people compare a sixteen year old cat with a human senior of 80 years. Despite her age, however, Kimmy was so lively, although she was more careful with jumping off the fence and the window-ledge.
This year -2009- the end appeared to be there. After her annual vaccination she started to sneeze. Fortunately she recovered, but she became very cautious, particularly with jumping. At a certain moment she retired to the attic, just sitting there. It looked as she had a fever. She was not active at all and you almost had to push the food in her mouth.
We considered it time for a visit to the vet and thus we landed with Veterinarian Coen. He turned out to be a doctor with a heart foir the patient. It was very clear when we observed Kimmy's reactions, because she got out of the transport cage herself and underwent the examination quietly and without fear. Animals often instinctively know who will be good for them.
Initially, Kimmy got some antibiotics to suppress the fever and the inflammation. It helped for some time, but after a few days she became a bit short of breath. We went back to the vet immediately. He found that for some inexplicable reason she had quite some liquid behind the lungs which made breathing difficult. In fac she was more or less drowning.
This situation required immediate action, which Vet Coen promptly took. It was a quite moving action indeed, but it showed effective, Kimmy got more air. He prescribed some vitamins for recovery and a few pills to take away the liquid.
The medicine helped and Kimmy seemed to recover a bit, even though she kept her movements quite cautious. I guess she must have been exhausted. Her last saturday she even climbed the stairs all by herself, after a few weeks of staying put.
But then there was a stroke of fate: she had a cerebrovascular accident which caused hemiplegia. It was a terrible sight, she could not move her left paws any more and she panicked completely, lashing out and crying. All of a sudden you have a difficult decision to make.
We went back to the vet first. His diagnosis was grim. We should wait a bit, but if she did not recover soon, he was quite pessimistic.
We took Kimmy home with us, and made it as comfortable as possible for her. Apparently the situation had become quite clear to the poor cat, because she sunk away in dull apathy. We realised that the end was near. Our daughters were there to say goodbye to their Kimmy who had been there during a large part of their lives. Finally they accepted the option of euthanasia.
The night did bring neither council nor solution. Kimmy remained paralyzed and apathetic. She hardly accepted any food or water. Time for a decision.. but what?
Finally we decided for euthanasia. A cerebrovascular accident with a cat is beyond cure. The hemiplegia would cause all kinds of side-effects and kill her anyway.
All of a sudden you are in the middle of a grieving process. It became clear to me what this little cat meant to me and how I had gotten attached to this small housemate. It's grieving because dying seems inevitable, it’s grieving after it has happened. It was inevitable indeed, yet it was suddenly and far too soon.
We made the appointment and drove with Kimmy to the vet. Kimmy's last journey... I had tears in my eyes behind the wheel.
Veterinarian Coen did a great job with the situation. His counselling for our decision was excellent. You have to choose yourself, that’s quite true. It is a great aid, however, that someone clarifies all options.
There was no turning back. Kimmy got a narcotic first, and the moment she fell asleep she had the final injection. We stayed with her until her heart stopped beating. Just a final caress on her head before death spread his cold over her. It looked like she was sleeping. Just like in all those years that she was with us and enjoyed the peace of our home.
But now her glance was no longer at this world...
We arranged a cremation for her. We thought that would be more worthy than the usual method. Her ashes will be scattered on a nice field in the countryside.
Back home the process of mourning continued. We cleared the open tins of cat food, the bins and the cat's bowl. We washed the plaids and the soft cloths where she had been lying in her last phase. We leave one spot on the couch as it were. Imagine she can not find the way to the afterlife yet..
The cat flap in our bedroom door is still there. A permanent witness of Kimmy's place in our lives. A reminder for her place in our hearts.
Where she is now? I hope there is a heaven for pets, because she deserves nothing less. Or even better, I hope that we will end up in a good afterlife all together, beloved man and beloved pets.
Kimmy, thank you that you wanted to share your life and your passing away with us!