Monday, January 17, 2011

Goodbye, Sophie

Sophie was given her release this afternoon.

On her last vet visit, in November, her weight was down to a bit over seven pounds; today she barely made it to five. Within her skin-and-bone frame Dr. Anderson palpated what felt like a mass in her abdomen. It wasn’t painful, but it confirmed the decision I've been coming to over the last couple of weeks.

And so my little old lady -- who always enjoyed visits to the vet (once out of the annoying carrier) because it meant attention! from people! and she loved attention! from people! – purring throughout, received a sedative, drifted into a doze, and lay quiet and light in my hands as the last injection slipped into her.

She was a good cat. Her life was long and happy. She went peacefully, with dignity, painfree, purring and unafraid.

It hurts like hell.



In the aftermath of immediate grief for Sophie, as the first fierce wave of weeping ebbs, the words below of Emily Dickinson have crept into my mind, crept in and stayed with me, exquisite distillation of what I’m feeling now. “It’s only a cat,” one might say; “surely a loss too small for such powerful poetry?” But grief has its own logic; each new loss dredges up echoes of old losses, past pain reverberating in the present grief.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –


This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Belly Fur Icicles

Now, there’s a phrase you don’t run across in ordinary conversation, eh? But after the recent snowallop we took, it certainly applies to the doughty Morgan, who of course rolled vigorously in the soft fresh snow as soon as he was released from the barn where he’d sheltered from the storm into the field and run-in complex where he and his Thoroughbred buddy Ben live most of the time. Commander’s body heat, well stoked by all the hay he inhales, melted most of the resulting white crust off his woolly mammoth exterior, but the drips refroze and -- voila! mini-icicles:


I think they add a seasonally festive touch, don’t you?


Commander is thriving on a mere two cups of grain per day, perhaps because he gets massive amounts of good grass hay to keep him happy and healthily fermenting:


Every now and then he peeks over the run-in’s divider to check on his buddy Ben (“Does he have more hay than me? Does it look tastier? Maybe I could sneak in and steal some?”):


Ben is going commando this year – no blanketing at all, for the first time since I’ve owned him. Left uncompressed, his fine Thoroughbred coat has furred out almost as thick as Commander’s and he’s thriving. He doesn’t roll as much as Commander so in this photo he’s still wearing a dusting of shavings from his stall snoozes:


Of course, when it’s wet and stormy, or bitterly cold as it was last night, the boys get taken into their huge, well bedded and generously hayed stalls. Commander likes that as much as Ben, maybe more; in fact, when I was working on the run-in cleaning today, Commander went over to the exit and stood there, hoping I’d take him back inside. Sorry, little big guy; you’ll have to wait till Tuesday when the next storm rolls in.