Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep little darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.
Our little cheese thief is gone. I am thinking today about her long life with us. The pain of losing an animal is a reminder that life and love are precious. As a friend said to me, “Enjoy every minute.” Agnes certainly did.
She came to us in 2002 as a stray. We lived very close to the university, and every time the semester ended, students would dump their animals. It escapes me how people can be so cruel. And ignorant. Unless a cat is feral, it does not know how to survive in the wild.
“Look! Isn’t that the MOST BEAUTIFUL CAT YOU’VE EVER SEEN???” As soon as the Long Suffering Husband caught sight of her on our snowy driveway, it was love at first sight. He started feeding her. She never said no to a good meal.
He first saw her in the dead of winter, and it was not till Easter that he tempted her to sit on his lap on the porch steps. That’s how scared she was. We gave her the name Agnes (“Lamb”) because of the holiday. No animal was ever less like a lamb. Once indoors, she immediately began to terrorize the resident cats, Tater and Eileen. They were soft and indolent and naive. She was a veteran of the Mean Streets.
We learned a lot from that experience, about how to introduce a new cat (don’t just throw them together, do it gradually) and about strays. Once she came indoors, Agnes acted starved all the time. She ate so much that the vet felt her distended belly and was sure she was preggers. Nope. Just a food gobbler. She stole food. More than once, she took a plastic bag of bread off the countertop, dragged it to a hiding place and bit through it. She stole a piece of cauliflower (!) straight off my dinner plate.
One of her peculiarities was this posture of lying on her belly with her feet hanging out behind. It always made us laugh.
Agnes was already four or five when she came to us. We think she had the proverbial nine lives. She survived that first (?) abandonment. Then there was the time that a workman painting our house allowed her outside in spite of our careful instructions. She was lost for days and we were sick with grief. Not knowing what has happened to your animal is the WORST. We searched and searched. We were told that lost cats actually tend to hang out very close to their homes, but they hide because they are too scared to show themselves. The LSH found her in the middle of the night. He got up in answer to some strange inner prompting, went outside, and heard her calling from behind a bush.
Agnes got obese because we gave her ad lib food to cut back on her aggression toward the other cats. Not good, but we were at our wits end. Eventually she mellowed and got along better with the later denizens of the household. We were able to slim her down to a weight the vet could approve. But she always had loose skin, so we called her “the saggy baggy Aggie.”
Then Agnes got hyperthyroidism, lost a lot of weight, and spent several days at a posh treatment center being irradiated. This place offered filet mignon (no thanks), live entertainment (hamsters in cages who were being irradiated along with the cats) and videos of birds and bugs. Despite the so-called “luxuries,” it was traumatic for her. She acted strange for a long time after that.
Aggie used up one last life when she got cancer. She had a large mass in her chest and we thought it was the end. But with steroids, she was a new kitty. She got an extra 18 months, which she lived to the full. She seemed completely normal right up to the last couple of days.
Some cats win the lottery. Agnes had a good long life and beat the odds at least three times. She was one of a kind.