Saturday, November 03, 2007


when i moved back to north carolina to go back to school, i moved into the cheapest house i could find to rent that was close enough to walk to campus. next door to me, renting from the same slumlord, was a woman, kathy, and her 8 cats. kathy had a soft heart and took in any kitty in need that crossed her path. a big orange tabby named roger, a balck and white tom named biscuit, a little matching black and white girl named molly, a few others who were too skittish to get to know, and a half grown tabby female named scout. all these kitties were loved and well-cared for, and most of them had clipped ears--kathy took them to the aspca to have them spayed and neutered because she could not afford the vet bills, and the aspca clips the ears of feral cats brought to them, presumably so that they don't duplicate the surgeries.

scout in a sunbeam

when i met scout, she had recently been hurt--trapped under a car and burned on her back--and was a bit wary of strangers. she was also the most vocal meower i had ever seen. after a bit of time, she learned that i was a cat person, and she started meeting me at my car when i would pull in, meowing for a scratch or two. in the other half of my duplex, a botany grad student sheri and her dog billie moved in. billie and scout were fast friends and took to sleeping ina pile on out front porch. even jojo, my former cat who hated everyone, took a liking to scout--they communed through the windows onto the porch. scout was just--part of life. not everyone treated her well--the frat boys down the street did SOMETHING to scout that made her panic when she was picked up--i don't know what, and i don't WANT to know. but she never ever wanted to be picked up--she fought tooth and nail if you tried. literally.

years passed. kathy met a man and got married. she moved away and took all eight cats with her. a couple of months later, there was a familiar meowing from the porch--scout had come back. she was starving and bedraggled and in a sad state. i went out and fed her, petted her, and supplied her with water. she stayed. she got better and fatter and happy again. i had jojo in the house, and scout outside. then jojo had a heart attack--she was sitting on my lap purring one minute and gone the next. i was shocked and devastated and unprepared, but in retrospect, that was about the best pet death one could ever hope for. by this time i had graduated from school and was thinking about moving out of the ghetto--the time seemed right. i made plans to move to an apartment complex in a newly developing area. but what was i going to do with scout? i didn't really feel ready to take on another pet, but i could not just leave her to starve either. i called every no-kill pet shelter and rescue i could fine, and no one would take her because her ear was clipped. it still shocks me that something the aspca had done to the cat rendered her un-adoptable to every rescue place on the map. so--i did what i had to--i kept the cat.


in one day, i changed scout's life forever. i lured her into the house and closed the door behind her. the same afternoon, i took her to the vet for shots and a check-up. she was healthy as a horse they said. scout and i moved away from maiden lane at last. she howled like a banshee the whole way to the new place and hid under the bed for a week. but she adjusted. she came out and interacted with me and slept on the bed at night, but it was clear that she was lonely. she had never been alone in her whole life. so--i decided to get scout a kitten. when a man i work with brought in a litter of 8 kittens his girlfriend had rescued from a madman, i immediately told him i wanted one. instead, as happens with people like me who are ultra-susceptible to the cute, i came away with two, samson and fergus. the difference in scout was night and day. fergus was, and still is, scout's cat. he was her shadow, her annoyer, and her constant companion. and scout--scout became one of the best cats i have ever known. affectionate, loving, happy, vocal, content. she loved other animals and children, and she was patient and tolerant of everyone. she was a slut for pleasure and adored anyone who would sit on the couch and absentmindedly stroke her silky fur. she liked to be between the hippie and me best of all--this is where she spent every moment possible for the past 4 and a half years. she was a cat who just made good company.

over the past three weeks, we noticed that she was losing some weight, but she didn't seem sick at all. cats are really good at masking symptopms, as it turns out. this is the first time in her life that scout has ever been sick, and i guess the last as well. it was just too much to fight. when they told me what was wrong, all i wanted to do was bring her home, and i am so glad i did. her last night was spent sleeping with me, and her last day was spent napping on her favorite blanket, purring the time away on the couch. when we took her in, she was calm and not afraid. and at the vet's office, i let her out of the carrier, and she snuggled down between me and the hippie and purred and licked my hand. when the doctor came in, he was surprised to find her purring. it was simple and fast and painless, for which i will forever be grateful. i know we did the right thing. and although it is AWFUL to lose her, i am glad she could die with dignity and without suffering.

kitties under the tree

the past two weeks have been terrible. the last few days, some of the worst i have ever experienced in my life. but i weigh this sadness against the years of happiness and all the joy that scout brought into my life, and i have to say--it is all worth it. she was the best cat ever. and oh, how i loved her. i will never forget the feel of her thick soft fur or the sound her loud-ass meowing or her warm comforting presence by my side. i will miss her every day.

i am grateful for the support of everyone over the past week. it's amazing what an impact a pet can have on you and how hard it is to lose one. they really do become members of your family. people get this, it seems--they come out of the woodwork to offer prayers and condolences. the original vet who saw scout yesterday called to see how she was and how i was and what had happened. two of my amazingly good friends figured out where scout had been hospitalized and called to make donations to help cover her massive bill--that was a shock when i went to pay the bill yesterday. unexpected and generous, unnecessary, but utterly appreciated. i have good friends, what can i say. i love you guys.

ok--i am going to stop now--i guess this is something like a wake for the kitty, it's a damned shame i can't drink a bunch of beer in scout's honor--i totally would if i weren't knocked up.


Meredith said...

My thoughts are with you....


Allegra said...

I am so sorry to hear about Scout. Take the time to grieve and heal. Also, I am so glad you've finally gone public with your baby news!! yay!! Glad to know things are going well!. Remind me again when you are due?

denise said...

Two shots of Basil's to scout, what a wonderful remembrance of scout. my thoughts and prayers and arms are around you. we will miss her! love~momxxxooo

Laura said...

Aww Jackie. I love this. And it's so very true that you never forget a beloved pet who was a faithful comfort.

Congratulations on your NEWS!!! GAH!! I had to find it out on Ravelry!? :)