If anyone in my life ever “personafied” unconditional love, it was Gizmo. This was not the post I’d planned to write today, in fact a week ago I was expecting to still be hand feeding Gizmo every few hours. Over tea today I’ll be sharing all about Gizmo, and I understand if that’s not your cup of tea, but it’s what’s in my heart this week.
This will probably get really long, and it’s really more for me than you, so I understand if you don’t read it much, much less all.
NY has not been kind to our furkids
We lived in VT 7 years. No furkid losses (the girls were only 8 when we left). We lived in TX 17 years, and both the girls crossed the rainbow bridge — but they both had long lives: Cleo was 16 and Puss was an amazing 21. They are still there; we buried them in our backyard and planted a rosebush by them. It used to comfort me to go out there and talk to them.
However, we have lived in NY for 10 years, and this is our third loss. The first two, Simba (Gizmo’s brother — he was gone before I started this blog) and Chester (many readers remember Chester, I’m sure, as I wrote about him frequently, especially after he passed — read his story here) were too young — almost 12 and 10 respectively. I know that’s not really young, but both seemed far too young to go to me, and both suffered a lot towards the end.
Gizmo had a good, long life; he was almost 18. He was never sick a day in his life until this last year, and it’s really only in the last 6 weeks that he really started to decline. I miss him terribly, but I am consoled that he had a great life, and that I helped him to pass while he could still enjoy lap time with me.
Loving that Gizmo is still purring and curling up on my lap
The above is what I wrote last month. Yes, he was still purring and curling up in my lap til the very end.
He also was barely eating. He really couldn’t stand for very long, which is why he would lay down to drink water, and why after a few bites he’d go over to his hammock and I’d have to spoon feed him to get him to eat a bit more.
He could have lived longer, but he no longer had the quality of life I wanted him to have. It was very, very difficult to make the decision to help him cross while he still wanted to lay on me, but I knew it was the right choice.
I was stretching out after my run on Monday, and oddly enough I heard a lot of bird song. It’s the middle of winter, there’s snow on the ground, and it’s damn cold. I looked over and I saw what looked like a flock of Robins — I’m not sure they were Robins, I wasn’t close enough, but a few flew back and forth to a nearby tree and they definitely had red bellies (and were not cardinals).
Was it a sign for Gizmo? A sign that Spring is coming, despite the cold and snow going on? I have no idea, but I do know that it brightened my day — something I would never have seen if I hadn’t opted outside to run, which as you know I don’t always do — it was actually a lovely day to run (for winter).
At this point I was still grappling with the decision, and I would make the arrangements after I got home from this run.
Coming to peace
I woke up Monday crying. I’m don’t cry easily; ask Mr. Judy. I also woke up in the middle of the night crying. I didn’t feel like I had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t falling back asleep so I did anyway. I spent some time praying to be at peace with my decision.
Eventually I fell back asleep, and when I woke up, I wasn’t crying any more. And I was actually at peace with my decision. It was still hard, and yes, I did cry later on, still do, but my prayer was answered.
All his favorite things
It’s very, very difficult to make the decision to let them go while they’re still eating (even if only very little), still want to be with you (sometimes, there were days he spent mostly hidden away), and still purring.
I didn’t question myself (much) after making the decision, but I set out to give Gizmo as much happiness as I could on his last night/day on this earth. Mr. Judy grilled a steak — yes, outside — sort of, he has the grill pulled close to the house and uses a method where he doesn’t have to be monitoring it constantly, and while Giz didn’t eat much of it, he did eat some.
My habit over the last few weeks was to get up, scoop the litter boxes, feed Giz, then go downstairs and do some yoga, then meditate, then pray a little. On his last day I wanted to spend as much time with him as he wanted, so I sat down after feeding him and let him lay on me until it was time to feed the dogs. And then I let him lay on me some more.
I got up to make a snack of some yogurt and granola. I really wasn’t hungry, but Giz loved yogurt — and he actually went to town pretty good on what I left for him. After that Gizmo went to his bed in a box (literally a cat bed we’d put in a box), so Mr. Judy and I took the dogs out for a very short walk (it was really cold).
Then I cooked a big batch of chicken thighs in the Instant Pot — I’m planning to make chicken noodles soup later this week — and fed him a bit of of the chicken. Again, he didn’t eat much at all, but he really enjoyed what he ate.
I am grateful that he was able to enjoy some of his favorite things on his last day.
Best toy ever
I didn’t used to feed Gizmo when I got up. It’s a really good way to get a cat scratching at your bedroom door. So for about 16 years, the first thing we’d do in the morning is play with his cat dancer (the Website is here, but you can buy it many places and it’s very inexpensive).
Best cat toy ever. Seriously. Very few cats don’t appreciate it (Simba wasn’t really impressed with it, but he’s the exception); I used to volunteer at a small cat rescue and few cats could resist the cat dancer.
Gizmo never tired of it, day in and day out, not until he got very old and arthritic.
Although Gizmo was annoyingly attached to me — seriously, when he was healthier, he would follow me around the house just willing me to lay down — occasionally he deigned to lay on Mr. Judy. He did so this past weekend. Mr. Judy felt he was saying goodbye.
Giz really was not happy when dogs came into his life. Every time we went away and came back and there were no dogs, he was so happy. Towards the end, though, he really didn’t care. He’d walk all over them to get what he wanted — usually me or a bed.
Long ago I painted this on my large suitcase. It kind of comforted me to “take Giz with me”. That suitcase is also coming to the end of a long life, so I guess I won’t be able to take Giz with me anymore, except in my heart.
Our vet sent this Live Oak acorn to plant. They did the same when we lost Chester. We actually got that to grow into a small sapling, but we could never seem to decide where to plant it, an early snow came, and that was it. Oy. Can we keep this one going?
Mr. Judy has been trying to remove all the cat paraphernalia. We had boxes all over the house. In fact, it made me sad when I opened the box for the oak plantling — we almost always put down the boxes for Giz to play with before we recycled them (and some became permanent “furniture”). But now there is no one to play with a box, to jump in and out of it, to curl up into it even though it doesn’t look like it would hold him.
There are multiple cat trees. Multiple litterboxes. Beds. Scratchers. It didn’t make me happy to see them around, and it definitely makes our house much more open with them gone, but it doesn’t make me happy to see all signs of a cat in my home disappear, either.
For many reasons, I don’t plan to be adopting a cat in the near future. It’s the first time pretty much in my entire life I haven’t had a cat. Some day, I hope that we will have a cat/cats. For now we are once again settling into our new normal.
I still feel you
Gizmo was put to sleep in our home — if you’re local to the Albany, NY area, In the Comfort of Home — find their Website here— will come to your home and they’re very kind and it was quick and peaceful; I do recommend them. It’s not the first time we’ve had furkids put to sleep at home, although the first time a stranger has done it.
I still kind of feel his presence, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I keep thinking I hear him or see him out of the corner of my eye, and just feel him doing the things he used to do when he was younger and healthy. It both comforts me and saddens me.
I also know he is reunited with Simba, and with all the many cats (and dogs) I have loved in my life. That is what I choose to believe, anyway.
I could go on and on for days. Seriously. When they were kittens I had an entire Website devoted to them. Yes, I am that crazy cat lady. People were so shocked when I wanted dogs, too, but that’s how I grew up, with both.
I actually started to work on copying that Website into a new blog when Chester passed, but it’s time consuming work. I didn’t finish and I hadn’t made it public.
So many photos. So many memories. 18 years is a long time, of morning and evening lap time, playing, feeding, scooping, and just purr/pure love.
I actually do have more I want to write, but I think maybe I’ll join up with Amanda’s Talking Out Loud next Thursday for the first time in a long time hereand share some more photos and more stories.
No questions today, just give your furkids some extra loving from us