I worked in a bookstore when I was in college. One day a woman came in looking for a book about cats, specifically pregnant cats. She had taken in a very pregnant stray. We talked a little and I told her I would be moving into my first apartment soon and wanted to get a kitten. I got her number and called a couple months later. She told me the kittens had been born a few days after she had been to the bookstore and were ready to be adopted. I would be getting a black and white kitten. When I arrived to pick her up, the woman handed me a little grey kitten and said, “My daughter changed her mind, you can have this one, hurry before she changes her mind again,” and I was rushed out the door. After some time with my new kitty, she taught me that her name was Squeekie because of the tiny little meow she had.
It is impossible to share everything we experienced over our sixteen and a half years together. We moved from a small apartment to a townhouse with a yard to a house with a larger yard. Squeekie always loved supervised outdoor kitty time. We developed our own language that included “ning ning,” which meant she was getting treats or wet food and she showed me her beautiful pigeon noise that I came to refer to as “whirring.” She was with me through college and grad school, changing jobs, relationship breakups and the loss of all of my grandparents. She was always there for me.
When she was 15 she started having health problems. The first major one was in January 2014 and required dental surgery. We were scared a cat at her age wouldn’t make it through, but she did and thrived for months. Then we learned she had a thyroid condition that required medication twice a day. For a while treats worked, but then ning ning took on an unhappy meaning and we often had to resort to giving her her medicine using a pill popper. Her appetite was also decreased, so getting her to eat was frequently a challenge. Over the past year, I had many conversations with her about making good choices: getting the pill in the kitty and eating.
It was around this time that I had one of the most poignant dreams I’ve ever had. In my dream, Squeekie spoke to me. She simply said, “I’ll watch over you,” and I said, “But you’re right here.” And she replied, “When I’m gone.” This dream has remained in my mind since I had it and I knew then that my kitty would always be with me.
In April of this year, she was lethargic and we went to the vet to learn that her kidneys were failing. I always knew this was a possibility due to her age and thyroid condition, but didn’t expect it so soon. I was then put in a position to make a good choice for my kitty and had her hospitalized for fluid treatments. While she was in the hospital, I visited her every day and made her two promises: if she came home to me, I’d give her supervised outdoor kitty time every day and I would not let her suffer when her time came. After 5 days in the hospital, she came home to me and we enjoyed 5 more weeks of happy cat time. She got outdoor kitty time every day except one or two when it was too rainy. I came home every day at lunch to check on her and try to get her to eat. She did well for over four weeks and we made some beautiful memories together. I took lots of pictures so I could preserve her memory.
During her last few days, I noticed her mouth was bothering her like it did when she required surgery the previous year and eating became very difficult for her. Her weight had continued to drop and she was so thin and I started to notice she was weak. But until Wednesday she could still jump on things and was drinking and wanted to be an outdoor kitty. Thursday she didn’t want tuna juice, which was always our appetite stimulant. She seemed even slower and I went to work on Friday with the knowledge that I would likely have to say goodbye to her over the weekend.
I left work early Friday to spend a little more time with Squeekie before we had to part. Although she did go outside, she did not want to explore as she usually did. When she had a chance to go outside a second time that afternoon, she was not interested. She barely ate anything and I made up my mind to let her go the following morning. But late Friday evening I noticed that she had trouble standing and her breathing was extremely labored. I made the hard decision to call and have someone come to our home to help me say goodbye to my kitty.
My dad lives in the same home in Chesapeake where I grew up. Over the years, all of our pets have been buried on the property and I had already arranged with him to bury Squeekie with all the other kitties and dogs and bunnies. I put her to rest early Saturday morning. When I got home I checked my email and had a promo from a picture website: 2 8×10 prints for free. The most incredible part was the promo code: GOODCHOICE. I smiled through my tears and knew I had made a final good choice for my cat.
Saying goodbye has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She was with me for my entire adult life. I was her person and she was my cat. Our home is different without her. My life is different without her. So much of the past 2 months has been devoted to her needs and now that’s gone. To help me work through the pain, I’m using the GOODCHOICE code to create some prints of our last month together. I know the pain will lessen over time but right now it just hurts. I am so grateful for the love Squeekie brought into my life for over sixteen years, grateful I was able to give her a happy home for so long and grateful I was able to care for her in her time of great need.
I will miss you and always love you my sweet kitten.