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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ana: The Little Cat Nobody Wanted: An open letter

"Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
Anatole France

 My Dear Little Ana,

I remember when someone dropped you off next door the day the trash is picked up, you and the black kitten/cat.  I say kitten/cat because you were half grown.  Your brother ran from me.  You were in a tree and would not come down.  "Not my problem" I thought, knowing I already had a houseful of cats.  

The next day you were both gone, and frankly,  I was glad.  I hoped  you found shelter and food and someone to love you, but again, it was not my problem.  Then a couple of days later, as I went into the shed, there you were looking up at me from Rocky's old winter bed.  You would not allow me near you, and as I went to get food, you disappeared, that magnificent tail waving behind you .  But  I left the food as I can't stand for anyone to go hungry.  

It was gone.  This dance went on for a few days before you allowed me to touch you.  You began to listen for me, to peek out from under the shed, your hiding place, and finally you let me touch you.  Once we became friends, you could not get enough of me, wanting to come in the house, wanting to be petted, and always talking to me.  I contacted the cat shelter hoping that that they would take you if for no other reason than Lloyd's memorial donations went there.  But no, they would not guarantee acceptance.  So I began the search for a home for you.

I decided that perhaps if I had you spayed, someone would adopt you to avoid the adoption fee and vaccination fees.  By now it was becoming a chore to keep you out of the house, but I could not bring you in and risk infecting the other cats that are my responsibility.  Perhaps I should have taken that chance, perhaps you would still be here if I had been a little less protective or a little more giving, but I did not. 

Because I was concerned about not being able to regulate what you ate outside, I made arrangements for you to go to the vet's the night before your surgery.  When I took you in, the woman at the desk tried to convince me that I wanted to keep you.  I explained that I already had three cats, that when you have one cat, nobody thinks anything of it.  Two cats, well she likes cats.  Three cats, well she REALLY likes cats.  Four cats and you become the crazy cat lady.  And cats are expensive, particularly as they age.  So, my sweet, I denied you, but please believe that in my heart unless I had found you a good inside home, you would have lived here.  And you were loved regardless. 

You were scared when I took you to the vet, but not like my other cats.  You hopped out of the carrier talking to me all the while.  I heard a slight meow when they drew blood to check for feline leukemia, and I rejoiced when I heard that it was negative.  Assuring you it would be okay, I left.  Oh, Ana, I did not know I was lying.  

When I picked you up the next day, I knew the surgery had been harder on you that the other cats I have had spayed.  The vet pulled me in rather than just sending her home and said you were bleeding some from the incision and that she had re-glued the incision.  She then put you in a body bandage telling me to leave it on a few hours and asked to see her the next day.  She also told me of their emergency service is  there would be problems, but failed to tell me it closed at 11 or midnight.  

When I got ready for bed, I took your bandage off.  I was surprised you were not walking around as the other cats had done, but you did eat a bit.  There was some blood. As you know, I checked on your hourly throughout the night, but saw no improvement.  When I saw blood I called the emergency service that was closed.  I then called the emergency service in Louisville.  The vet was kind and said I could bring you, but he warned that it would be very expensive, estimating at least five hundred dollars.  He said you would probably be fine until morning.   You laid in the cat bed until I found you in the litter box following  a bowel movement.  Litter had dried in the blood that was oozing.  I thought I might do more harm than good cleaning it off due to infection risks and it was only an hour or two until the  office opened, so I waited.

When I took you in, they said they would have to open you back up and try to find where you were bleeding.  Again, I deserted you there.  Please believe me that it was only because I had to.  At the time, they said they were not sure you would make it.  "Please, God," I prayed, "Don't let me lose my little Ana or have to make another decision as I just did with my husband."  But God did not listen or did not care.  He had other plans for you I suppose.

 They called after your surgery saying you came through but were still not doing well.  The vet said either you had a clotting disorder or you had eaten rat poison or caught a mouse that had eaten rat poison.  Again, had I brought you in, if it was rat poison, I could have saved you.  But I did not.  So while I will never know which it was, I ask your forgiveness if I played my part in killing you before your time.   My daughter says that animals don't hold grudges, that this is one of the lessons that they teach us, and perhaps she is right, but still Ana, I ask your forgiveness.

The vet assistant called later than evening saying you were not doing so well and saying that they could continue to give you fluids, or we could take you to Louisville and try a blood transfusion.  Louisville has full time awake staff, and they do not. When she called to check the cost, it was going to run about $1,500.00.  I should have sent you, but I didn't.  One lesson I have yet to learn that my husband knew so well is that money is only paper. Things are only things.  Spirits are special and more valuable than either.   Every time we pick paper or things over a spirit, we damage our own spirit. The assistant said she would make a special trip back in to check on you at 11:00 and call me.  

My daughter came up as I felt I knew what the decision would be.  My son and his wife offered to pay for your transfusion.  All knew how this was taking me backwards to the loss of Lloyd.  It was also going to mean another surgery, however, and there was still the possibility that you would not make it. So, Ana, rightly or wrongly I declined.  And honestly, I could have paid for it.  I did not need their money.  I just have an abhorrence at the thought of being dependent so am careful with money.  Again, I scar my soul.  My daughter also offers to pay, and I know she does not have the money.  It  shames me.  But it also warms me knowing what kind and giving children I was blessed with.

 When the vet assistant called later that evening, Tiff and I went in.  I was amazed at how you already knew my voice, my smell, and that little meow, my little vocal sweetie.  It broke my heart to see you laying there, unable to move.  Still I can't help but think you were comforted.  Odd, that the betrayer should seem to bring you some solace.  When the assistant pointed out your breathing had quickened, you were panting, you were anemic, and your body temperature was dropping she recommended putting you to sleep and I agreed.  

Today I buried you wrapped in the green blanket that was my son's when he was a baby, your little body as light as a kitten.  I had grabbed the blanket out of the cedar chest that holds memories thinking it would be warmer than a towel when I took you back the day following your spaying.  And today I  hope it keeps you warm on your trip to heaven.  I have asked Lloyd and the other pets that I have lost to guide you and keep you safe, safer than I was able to.

Ana, I hope I did the right thing and made the right decision.  If not, I apologize.  I apologize for not keeping you safe and warm and fed and loved.  I apologize for telling you it would be alright when it was not alright.   But Ana, I am only human and not as wise as you and your kind.  

Good night, sweet little Ana.  I am amazed at the depth of my feelings for you in such a short time period.  You played a role, however painful, in keeping my soul awakened.  I don't regret meeting you and your gentle spirit, but I do regret the shortness of our time together.  Sleep well. 

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