i don’t know if anyone is checking in here anymore. that’s my fault; i have become the epitome of inconsistent. sorry about that.
i actually NEED to write here more often, because i think writing is therapeutic for me. that’s why i actually started this blog years ago… and it’s why i regret that i haven’t been good about keeping up with it as of late.
tonight i logged in to write down some thoughts about my cat nipsey. we learned on sunday (at the emergency vet) that my sweet nipsey has either congestive heart failure or lung cancer, and that either way, her prognosis is poor. we were sent home with ten days worth of lasix, and when i asked the veterinarian how i go about getting a refill once this runs out, his reply was a very gentle, “let’s enjoy nipsey one day at a time, and cross that bridge when we get to it.”
so, broken-hearted, i brought my dying cat home. and here’s when i go back to the beginning.
in the summer of 2001, on the “negative one month” anniversary (meaning one month before our wedding, or on 6/8/01), jonathan and i decided to get a cat. i had really wanted a dog, because i liked dogs better, and thought cats were generally boring and not as much fun as dogs. but, our landlord allowed cats only, and because i craved a pet so badly, we went to the denver dumb friends league — which is their name for “animal shelter” — and we visited with cats.
ooh — i should also point out that jonathan had been in colorado for less than a week at this point. maybe even 2 or 3 days. i wasted no time organizing this trip to cat-find.
anyway, off we went… and at the DDFL, they have (or at least had) this policy: at each visit to the facility, you could “interview” up to 2 cats. if neither cat felt right, you had to go to the back of the line (of people waiting to interview cats) or come back the next day. we surveyed the rows of cages, and we picked 2 cats: a huge orange one and some other one that i don’t even remember. we went to the interview room, which consisted of 2 metal chairs and a table. it was very sterile.
the staff member brought back cat #1 and he just looked at us. cat #2 crawled around the room, sniffing and scoping, but didn’t give two craps that we were there. i wasn’t thrilled about either cat.
when the staffer came back, we were getting ready to go home for the day when either jonathan or i (i can’t remember) asked if we could see just one more cat. there was that black one… the one that kind of stared at us while we walked around. we wanted to see him or her. was there ANY way we could bend the rules and see one more cat? please?
why yes, our pierced and very hip-looking DDFL staffer said. just this once. and back in she came with a black cat named kiki. when kiki came in, she made eye contact immediately. she then crawled into my lap, and then into jonathan’s lap. and for the rest of the 5-10 minute interview, back and forth she went… my lap to his, his to mine. and she purred, loudly. and she seemed happy. and she seemed to be saying, “cut the shit — i belong with you two. let’s go home.” and i immediately fell in love — with a cat.
this cat was immediately renamed nipsey and was left at DDFL overnight so that she could be spayed in the morning. we paid $74 and were instructed to pick her up the next day.
i didn’t even want to leave her that night.
jonathan picked nipsey up in the afternoon. she was 6 lbs and estimated to be 3 years old. she was small, probably because she’d had kittens very young. the veterinarian said that it seemed she had several litters. she had been picked up by DDFL as a stray. she had been there for about a week before we met her.
nipsey staggered around that day because she’d just had surgery. that night, she slept in our bed, between us. i attributed it to her being stone cold crazy from anasthesia. but for the next 8 years, nipsey went on to sleep in our bed quite often, most recently around my head on my pillow. so i guess it was just a habit formed early.
nipsey witnessed our marriage and the birth of our two children. she moved from wolff street to coronado parkway in denver, and then across the country to vermont, and then from winooski to south burlington. she sat with me many nights during one of the darkest periods of my adult life, which was after we moved from colorado to vermont, and i was horribly depressed. on the days when i was tired of caring for my two young children, she would sit beside me on the couch, and purr, and silently connect over what a pain of the ass those demanding, needy, suckling offspring could be.
nipsey was always a mother. having mothered her own kittens before we knew her, it seemed to just be who she was; she mothered the 2 cats we adopted after her, she mothered my children, and at times she mothered me.
she never peed anywhere she wasn’t supposed to, except on that first day (when she was staggering) and earlier this evening (when clearly she simply couldn’t make it to the box).
she never tried to escape the house. one time, at wolff street, she got out through a window. and she sat in the front yard. and when we got home, she came in with us. i believe that when we opened our home to nipsey, we were saving her from the denver streets. and she had no interest in going back to outside life.
when dogs visit us, nipsey looks at them with disdain. she seems to be thinking, “i am so sorry you’re not a cat. how sad.”
nipsey has been known to hiss at visitors and has clawed and even bitten a few extended family members. we have always given the disclaimer to guests: “please don’t touch that one. she’s unpredictable.” and, she is. but in 8 years, and after COUNTLESS opportunities to do so (many of them justified), nipsey never, ever scratched or bit either of my children. they hit her. they pulled her tail. they laid on her, full-body style. and nipsey put her ears back, and looked at me, as if to say, “kids. what are you gonna do?”
one christmas, before i had kids, i crafted a santa hat and made nipsey wear it along with a frosty the snowman sweater. she didn’t argue.
nipsey doubled in size very quickly after we got her. she was 6 lbs at adoption, 12 lbs at her highest, and is now getting lighter due to her illness and the whole “i’ve stopped eating” thing that tends to burn the pounds rather quickly. a veterinarian once said that, because of her first years as a hungry stray, nipsey would always have a sort of eating disorder that caused her to eat whenever she saw food. and boy, did she eat!
before she stopped eating, she loved tomato soup or anything made with tomato sauce. if i wanted to attract nipsey to the kitchen, my best bet was vegetable soup (tomato-based) or spaghetti sauce.
she also loved chicken mcnuggets.
i’m sitting about 8 feet from nipsey as i write this. i’m watching her breathing; it’s labored. i don’t know how much more time i have with her. the vet seems to think days; i’m inclined to believe him based on how quickly she has declined in the past 48 hours.
to say that i’m heartbroken is an understatement. i’m devastated. and yes, i know that for those of you who don’t have pets, you may not understand. but this cat was my first “baby”. she was the first pet of my adult life. she saw me at my worst and loved me anyway.
i am angry, too. i feel robbed. she’s only 11 (we think). we assumed we had additional years with nipsey. i figured arwen would be 10 or even 12 before we had to deal with saying goodbye. i assumed milo, who LOVES nipsey, would have her in his life long enough to remember her. it appears now that he won’t.
i have always said that nipsey seems to have some sort of wisdom that not a lot of cats have. right now, i have to be the wise one and know when enough is enough. i saw the x-rays, and can tell that her breathing is labored. i have to somehow know when she’s in pain and when it’s time to say goodbye. but, having never had to make this decision, i feel so confused. it’s counterintuitive to take this creature, who i love so deeply, and have her put to sleep. i am praying it doesn’t come to that, but know in my heart that it’s likely.
we always said that if we had the money, we’d clone nipsey.
i also used to pick her up, and say, “hey jonathan… i love this cat like she came out of my own womb.” it was just something i said… and truly meant.
as much as a human can possibly love a cat, i love nipsey. and i’m losing her.
if you read this far, thank you for doing so. i’m going to check her breathing, love her up some, and head to bed.