Our (so-called) "employer"

Our (so-called) "employer"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dearly Departed Willie, aka Mr. Big Boy

Willie at age 3 or 4, circa 1995.

My 18 1/2 year old Willie was helped along to Kitty Heaven yesterday morning. He'd been slowing way down all year and stopped eating his baby food meats two days ago. He was struggling to drink water and to walk. I should've taken him in Wednesday but wanted to give the other furs and myself time to adjust to his imminent absence as he was the elder of this tribe, here before all the remaining. My wonderful vet assured me I was doing the right thing as his kidneys, and many of his other organs, were shutting down and his body was pretty much "eating itself", which explained the near-daily bouts of pre-dawn bilious vomiting.

I got Willie March 31, 1992, while living in Monterey, CA. My current collection of cats began the previous November when I took Gracie in over Thanksgiving, an adult female Tabby who looked remarkably like Sadie. Gracie had been feeding with a group of ferals behind Ralph's market at the Carmel Crossroads and the women that were feeding the colony knew she was not feral but probably dumped. I thought Gracie needed company while I worked all day. Gracie was not overly fond of Willie. At all. But he was the remaining kitten of a litter up for adoption and when I went to see him he was splayed out on a couch with legs and the wingspan of a basketball player. And he had fleas the size of quarters on him. There was no debating. I had come with a carrier and was taking him regardless of what he looked like. I've really only chosen one pet. The rest have all come to me as strays or rescues that were the only remaining option.

Willie on 6/16/10, North Carolina, sunrise on the screened porch.

Longest Tail Ever.

I "fostered" tiny Bianca for Maria Hearst who was Italy-bound in October of 1992. Maria had found Bianca in a grocery store parking lot in Paso Robles, CA, and brought her to a Carmel-by-the-Sea inn where I was working. The resemblance was spooky, and of course the "foster" has continued for 18 years.

Bookends I

Bookends II

Willie and Bianca moved from Monterey to New Mexico with me (along with Gracie and a new stray, Merlin, who showed up in my front yard two months before the move!). We found Milo in NM, and then 9 months later we moved to Pagosa Springs, CO, where we lived for a decade. There we picked up Walter, Leah and Sadie! Good Lord. Clearly my pet accumulation phase was in full swing. I had six cats and one crazy Blue Heeler puppy in the house by January of 1999.

From the California coast to the mountains of Western North Carolina. One of my most treasured paintings that was actually not of me and Willie, but of course, it really was.

Going toward the Light.

Last morning coffee on the geriatric couch.

Hospice watch, 6/17.

One of the last shots of the Geriatric Bookends. I love this one.

Willie was so docile I knew I did not need a carrier. After shoving Walter into a carrier the morning he died so suddenly and regretting it ever since, I was not about to stress Willie, or myself, in that way. There is nothing worse than the trip home from the vet's with an empty carrier.

It was a very peaceful and quiet death and while we are sad, having time to gracefully ease into the goodbyes is truly a blessing. I put the blanket on which he was euthanized in the middle of the living room floor as the vet had suggested with Walter to give the others a knowing of what has happened. None of the remaining furs seem confused or unduly stressed, although Bianca is back to her 3am howling (and 3:45am, and 6am) which she had stopped for a while as she and Willie moved out onto the screened porch couch when it turned warm enough.

I took a ton of photos, of course, and decided to shoot two short videos as well. It occurred to me that now it's just us girls at home - Bianca, Annie, Sadie, Leah and me. As much as I'd love to add a boy kitty or two, I think I'm entering a new phase of my life in which "less is more" when it comes to pet collecting. (And you know, of course, this ensures that a stray boy kitten will come howling through my yard any minute now and I will be forced to "foster" him for the next 18 years.)