Dealing with the death of a pet is an excellent way for a child to learn about death. My family has had many burials by flush for loyal fish. There was deep mourning for the rescued baby rabbits, and everyone was sad when Happy, my sister’s childhood companion, went to her reward after 20 years of living a luxurious lifestyle, traveling several times a year to the Palm Beaches and summering in Cashiers, North Carolina.
My beautiful longhair gray, Georgie W, twin sister of Doc Holiday, lost a lengthy battle with liver failure today. Doc doesn’t appear to be handling her loss well and is spending quite a bit of time with me.
GeorgieW was the most beautiful girl in the world. Dr. Franklin, her physician, said she was the snootiest cat he had ever encountered. She was very proud and terribly aloof. There were few people she would ever even associate with, let alone have them catch a glimpse of her. Once in awhile she would allow me to scratch her, right at the corner of her back and her absolutely magnificent tail.
She had the most exquisite tail any feline has ever possessed. It was as long as she and, when fluffed, was at least seven inches of soft, silky, feathery fur. She was terribly proud of her tail; quite vain actually. She always took great pains with her appearance. Only once was it necessary for me to remove a mat from her magnificent hair.
It is difficult to lose a beloved pet. There are a few cold-hearted people in the world who think the loss of a pet is nothing. There are those who act worse about losing a pet than they would a human in their lives. There is nothing wrong with mourning the loss of a beloved pet. After all, there are times when pets are much better than people!
When we lose them, we mourn, have a memorial, find a pet cemetery, or even have the deceased cremated like a friend of mine did with her beloved cat. Her ashes (the cat’s, not my friend’s) are in an urn on the mantle in her bedroom. Our family has a small pet cemetery where two dogs, Clancy and Donavan, and cats Gracie, Siggy, and now Georgie, are resting. A friend who is a local potter makes matching plaques for each one of them.
We all have special pets in our lives, but GeorgieW was very special to me. I spent six years keeping her alive. Looking back on her life story, I wonder if she actually wanted to survive.
On the evening of September 8, 2000, Doc’s mother abandoned her in the carport of an empty condo across the street from me. Through the open window of my balcony I could hear Doc screaming in fear. It took me a few minutes to find her. Wrapping her in a soft cloth, I rushed down to a pet store to find some pet milk and a bottle. I carried her in the store with me. She was still screaming in terror.
Once home, I rigged an incubator in a small igloo container and kept her warm, feeding her with canned kitty milk. She cried for nearly an hour before falling asleep. The following morning, when I took her down to the vet, Dr. Franklin said he did not understand how she survived that night. She was so tiny and frail, her eyes had yet to open.
She became my baby. I would feed her every three to four hours, then using a warm, damp q-tip, force her to potty the way a mommy cat would. She was so tiny she needed a name that would bring fear to those around her, thus she became Doc Holiday. Dr. Franklin warned me the reason the mother probably abandoned her was because there was something seriously wrong with her, and I should not expect her to survive.
When Doc was about five-weeks-old, I discovered her mother had brought three additional kittens into my carport. They were living inside the motor of my 1988 LeBaron Convertible (my other baby). One afternoon I saw the most beautiful longhaired kitten and knew I had to rescue it. The following afternoon I was able to save one of the siblings, who went to live with Dr. Franklin’s assistant.
The next evening I was able to grab Georgie and put her into a carrier. I wasn’t sure how healthy she was and did not want to expose Doc to any germs, so I made a little nest for her in the Durango and then took her to the vet the following morning. One additional kitten escaped.
She was so tiny and frail. Georgie never had a very strong will to survive. A few days after her rescue I woke up to find that she was very cold and not moving. Again I rushed her to the vet. She nearly died that day. Dr. Franklin did not think she would survive. She had no will to survive and no fight in her.
Brunhilda’s twin brother, Siegfried, “The Big Guy” (the love of my life) adopted her that day. He would carry her around, snuggle her, and somehow made her eat. She slowly recovered, never leaving his side.
I had no name for her. By now we were into the middle of October. I was sitting on the sofa and she was sitting on the arm, next to Siggy. I was on the phone, talking to my mother, trying out names. I was going biblical with names and channel surfing. I hit FOX News and made the comment, “Oh, there’s George W.” Georgie looked over at me and said, “Meow.” I called her Georgie and she instantly responded. I have never known any animal to love their name the way she did.
Siggy lost his battle with kidney disease the same week my mother coded with heart failure. Georgie transferred her attention to Brunhilda, but I don’t think she ever really recovered from the loss of Siggy.
Last October, after I returned from Tombstone, things weren’t right. For months I’d noticed the odor of a very sick cat. I thought it was Brunhilda or even the birth father. I knew one of my babies was seriously ill, but never dreamed it was my beloved Georgie – and now she is gone.
Something happened to Doc and Georgie’s birth mother. The kitten that got away remained in my carport. I fed her. She had kittens. They had kittens. About three years ago she had a litter with another longhair gray that looked quite a bit like Georgie, and a dappled calico. I was able to catch the dappled calico and take her down to Dr. Franklin to be spayed. Someone needed her for a barn cat, but did not want her spayed. She ran away, and a few months later showed back up in my carport. Periodically I see her.
The gray cat had a beautiful little tortoise calico in her first litter. I wanted to catch the kitten, but never did. Then one day, around Christmas, she disappeared. I know it is shallow, but I said a prayer or two for the kitten. The week after Christmas, my mother called. “You know that kitten you couldn’t find? Well, she’s on my back porch.” Somehow the kitten had managed to survive a 25-mile ride inside the motor of the Durango! My mother caught her.
Naturally a few months later, when she went into heat, she escaped, and then came back home knocked-up. My parents kept three of her kittens. Mommy Dear escaped from the house a few months ago. Robert, the gardener, found her body a few days later.
The gray mommy cat is still in my carport. Last summer I noticed three beautiful kittens in the carport. The neighborhood kids helped me catch them. They kept one; I kept a sweet little tortoise calico (Mommy Cat) and the black and white Sylvester look-alike who now resides elsewhere. Miss Piggy, Bat Masterson, Little Joe Cartwright, and Redford are the gray cat’s grandchildren.
I feed the gray mommy cat every day. She has kittens on a regular basis. They live in and around the condo complex where at least five other people feed them. There’s not a mouse in this whole complex!