Over the last several days, your kindness was, and still is, overwhelming. After a medical emergency for our Maddie girl, we had to make the heartbreaking, yet compassionate, decision to allow her go to a pain-free place on Saturday. She was thirteen. It was the absolute worst, but we know it was the right choice, something I’m only able to admit days later (although still struggling with all at once). She was the queen of our entire household and deserves a million tributes in her name; I’ll do my best to start right now.
I adopted Maddie when I was in college. Growing up in a full pet household, this felt momentous, as she was the first pet I brought home on my own as an adult. I bargained with my landlord – who had a no pet policy – that I would clean the common hallway and move the building’s trash to the curb every week if he could make just one exception on his strict rule. I’m sure he thought he had struck gold with my proposition, but really, I felt like I’d won that game. The shelter told me that they estimated her to be around 9 or 10 weeks old, and I was drawn to her low-key mellow attitude. She fell asleep in my hand, I paid the $60 adoption fee (draining my entire college-day checking account!), and together with my roommate, we brought her right to the pet supply store where we picked up the essentials – toys, a tiny bed, cat nip, and oh yeah, food and litter.
Almost immediately, she fell ill. She was already scheduled for her first post-adoption check up, and when I brought her in, the veterinarian told me I had a barely 3-week-old little lady on my hands! She was weak and needed nutritious, fatty food. For a month, I stirred high protein wet sludge with dry kitty kibble, adding drops of water and nuking it all in the microwave to keep it extra soft and manageable. I fed her from my finger, and I used a syringe to shoot water into her mouth. She made a full and fast recovery, and as a result, she became fiercely loyal to me.
During the course of her younger years, she saw several roommates come and go, but she took to me, her mom, more than anyone. Whereas I could scoop her up, rub her belly and stroke the top of her head whenever, wherever, she loved Scott on her terms only. She chirped when he came near, and she put on airs as he pet her, despite her loud telltale purrs. Maddie was just this way, not only with Scott, but with most. She was sassy, but she kept my head warm (and my hair tangled) during the night. She could mean mug like no other, but she smiled and kneaded all the biscuits while she slept. She protected her kitty sister, Libby, from the pups, but if she suspected we saw her being sweet, she’d flip up her tail and sashay away.
We’ve been watching Libby to make sure she’s okay with the loss, too. She appears to be… fine. Jack forces himself into her cat bed, which besides not being physically possible, is both hilarious and gut wrenching. We find ourselves annoyed that the toilet paper has been staying perfectly raveled on its roll, and all of these deep window sills we’ve built – just for her! – are irritatingly bare.
Our house is six pounds lighter, although it feels like a thousand. In our minds, she’s curled up next to TP mountain, with all the window sills and all the sun. We can’t thank you enough for your generous and comforting comments, texts and emails. On a daily basis, it fills my heart to know that I’ve painted the pets that have left lasting impressions on your lives, too. Losing a pet is immensely difficult, and we know we’re not in this alone. We want to tell you, you’ve made us smile with the warmth you’ve sent our way.