Saturday, September 21, 2013

Goodbye, Numa

It is 1:55 pm on Saturday, September 21, 2013. This morning, at 11:30, I said goodbye to Numa, my beloved cat of over 15 years.

I had taken her on an emergency visit to the vet last week Friday (13 Sept) because of a bladder infection, and then took her and Nellie in yesterday for their first "getting to know you" vet visit. Last night I noticed that Numa did not respond to ice-cream (a first!). This morning, I discovered that she had difficulty standing, and also realized that she had lost her sight.

I was able to get another emergency appointment. X rays showed an enormous clump of cancer in her lungs, so large that it even obscured her heart. I don't know when it started, but it had metastasized to her brain, causing blindness and neurological weakness. At this point, nothing could be done for her; the prognosis was increased discomfort and a diminished quality of life.

I made the decision to let her go with dignity. The vet and technicians were superb, inserting a catheter and letting me spend last moments with her.

I held Numa and reminded her of so many things we'd shared together:
--Her first mouse catch, in Walla Walla, where she proudly strutted around, ensuring that not only I, but also Koshka and Capra, knew that *she* had caught that mouse. Mind you, she had no idea what to do with it after killing it!
--Her disdain for litter receptacles, ensuring that the world knew her as a change leader, one who constantly thought outside the box.
--Her fearlessness -- while the other cats showed hesitation in a new situation, Numa boldly went forward, trusting in her instincts. She felt comfortable sharing sniffs with the dogs next door; through many moves, she was the one who would discover all the interesting nooks and crannies to be found. In our Evanston apartment, she discovered that it was possible to pull a bit of wood aside and explore the plumbing between the walls!

I reminded Numa that I loved her for so many things. She demonstrated her intelligence when, as a kitten, she discovered, long before her sibling did, that the mouse dangling in front of her only did so when I was around. After that, she would play with it (she was a *cat*, after all), but she would let me know very clearly that she was wise to me. She had the best purr--sometimes raggedy, but always there, and always for me. She was a one-person cat, and I was honored to be her "person". Numa took the many moves that we made in stride, adjusting to new layouts, new environments--and oh, in South Bend, the ability to be outside and sun herself on the deck or give the local squirrels a lazy look.

Yes, she had her problems. Her poor rear-end control meant many litterboxes (7 at one count) and low levels of stress for me as I kept track of her with Nature's Miracle in one hand and good strong Bounty paper towels in the other. A house or apartment with carpeting? Perish the thought--or be prepared for constant mopping, sopping, cleaning... and smells. Although she lived here in PA just 3 months, she had become resigned to confinement in the basement during the day and grew accustomed to wearing diapers (size 1) when I was home.

Numa had lived a good life, one that was unexpectedly long--when she was about 4 months old, we found that spinal fluid was leaking from the base of her spine, and the vet gave her no more than 6 months if the hole didn't close; she lived 15 more years. She also had a couple of near misses from cars.

Even as I sat there her at the clinic, holding her, I could see that Numa was ready to go. She was listless and, while I doubt that she was in constant pain, she was clearly miserable. When it was time, I called the vet in. Numa lay in my arms, wrapped in a towel, her head resting on my arm. I spoke to her, and even in her last moments, I could tell that she was responding to my voice, as she always had. The vet injected the liquid and then... although Numa was peaceful and quiet, still warm, still cute and still my little one, I knew that her spirit was wending its way to kitty heaven. I hope that by now she has found Koshka and Capra. I know she'll give the other pets up there a good run for their money. They'll enjoy having her there, of that I am certain.

I loved her so, and I will miss her.