|Death: ||Sep., 2003|
Los Angeles County
Katey was a surprise in every way, and very unlike every cat I have known. Her entry into my life and her adoption were not planned. I already had my mental-max of cats, two was plenty, Jasper and Howitzer already were enough...
But, one day I went to visit my friend Olivia who took care of urban homeless cats. In fact, it was from Olivia that I had gotten my cat Jasper. In her spare back bedroom, Olivia had a wild mother cat and her two kittens (whom she called Maggie and Jiggs). There was a mean cat frequenting the neighborhood, so when Olivia could tell the mother cat was pregnant, she moved her indoors. When I visited, the kittens were about 7 weeks old, a few weeks shy of the 10 weeks at which Olivia usually took them to the shelter. Not having a car, this was a big enterprise for her. Anyhow, she took me upstairs to see the mother and two kittens, and it was in this small back bedroom in South Philly that I met Maggie, who later became Miss Katey Lou. She and her family were a beautiful black trio. The mom and two kittens had never seen a human other than Olivia before. I settled on the floor, and the mother and one of the kittens dashed away to a corner. The other kitten looked directly at me, made a little happy noise, came over and immediately stretched out on my thigh, very pleased with herself. I felt my heart go "thud", recognizing, no, I didn't want another cat, three cats were too many, but boy, wasn't this brave little girl a sweetie?
Knowing Olivia would have to get the kittens to the shelter when they were "of age" I offered to return 3 weeks later on the condition the mother cat go with the kittens. (It was my hope to reduce the number of birthing queens in the back yard. The mother was young, attractive and had lived indoors already so I hoped she might be a good candidate for adoption.) In the interim, I could not get this kitten out of my mind. Such a forward little thing! So, we went upstairs with carriers to ready the cats for the journey to the shelter, and, after I got another enthusiastic greeting from the baby girl, uh, one of the cats didn't make it to the shelter.
Being one of just two kittens, Katey was not the dominant one despite her outgoing nature. She was repeatedly pushed around and bullied by her brother. Katey was a product of incest. Her mother was Jasper's sister. Her father was Midnite, Jasper's father. So, Midnite did it with his daughter, and thus, Katey was Jasper's niece or sister depending on how you look at it. Outside of the fact they were both black with downturned noses like Jerusalem artichokes, you would never guess they were related. Katey and Jasper were opposites. She had fur so thick and soft she felt like a plush toy. She was stumpy, pudgey, loudly emotional, and fearless. She was demanding and had no subtlety. Jasper will brush by you gently with a final comment of his tail. Katey ran up to you, heavy on her feet, and made noises while crossing the distance. Her happy noise while running was "Eee-be-be-be-be." Each morning when we would walk downstairs for breakfast, I would laugh at their differences. Jasper, long and elegant, strode smoothly down the stairs on long legs, measured right-left, right-left, while Katey bolted down full throttle on her stubby legs that could not reach the steps as Jasper's did, so she ran headlong like a bunny, front-back, front-back, front-back, just barely managing to change her course and turn at the end so she didn't crash into the wall at the bottom. For those months when I had the three cats together, the differences showed best one day when there was a loud crash outside. Howitzer opened his sleeping eyes briefly, then fell back asleep purring, Jasper tore up the stairs to escape, and Katey dashed to the window to see what she was missing.
Once he trusts you and his surroundings, Jasper flows with things. He loves when I pick him up and ask if he wants to go for a walk; he will perch perfectly on my shoulder and stay there with ease while I tour the whole house. Katey had no such trust. She was readily combative, sure you could attack her at any second, so she was feisty and hated the helplessness of being picked up. She would never hurt you, but she would scream like a banshee and the tone of her wail made her indignance and victimization clear. If you wanted to approach her, it was best to speak sweetly to her first, so she got your intentions and didn't think bad things might happen. I suspect this was from being pushed around by her brother- and it also explained her fast appearance when food was prepared. Olivia had explained that if Katey did not hurry, her brother and her mother would eat it all. Anyway, if you petted her without this preparation, she would whine disgustedly at how annoying you were. If you prattled sweetly to her and then reached out, she would happily accept your attentions. She was a proud wench, and she had total understanding of the dignity she was due; her pride was not excessive.
One of Katey's most beloved things to do was to "take possession" of something. It could be anything but if she took it over, it was best not to trifle with her. She loved boxes and the empty laundry basket especially, and if you tried to get her out she would protest bitterly or whap you. One of her favorite games was to get into a low box and be pulled around the house on it. She also adored sneaking into the closet and was content to stay there for hours. Sometimes my husband would forget her propensity for sliding into the closet, and she'd be stuck there until one of us opened it later. Perhaps she did not care to call for help.
Katey was a slave to motion, her hunting instincts touched off easily, and she would chase Jasper's tail, anything you dragged, and shadows. My husband and I would laugh to see her her going pounce, pounce, pounce behind Jasper as she went after his shadow. She often sat by the sliding doors to the deck, eyeballing the birdfeeder excitedly, and making squeaky, clearly frustrated noises in her throat when a bird came close to her.
Both Katey and her brother Jasper were very tightly wound cats. If, for example, I dropped a pot in the kitchen, they'd both be startled. Jasper, however, was more of an alley cat than Katey, and he'd feel more threatened, leading him jump so high that you practically had to peel him off the ceiling. Katey would have her initial scare, but then seeing Jasper jump, would get excited all over again. It was like children, one protesting to the other, "You scared me!" and she would run after him with one paw raised, poised to whack him.
An emotional being, Katey felt everything strongly. She was always very happy or extremely peeved, or really hungry or totally beat. She ran on high speeds only. When she was younger, she would go from the mad rush of a kitten playing to quickly settling herself on the couch and squinching her eyes shut. My husband observed "Your kitten is even in a hurry to sleep." While Jasper and Howitzer slept together and groomed each other (at least the parts they themselves could not reach) Katie liked to sleep alone most of the time, and made irritated, impatient noises and ultimately flounced away when Jasper tried to clean her face. Maybe being one of just two kittens explains why she did not need companionship much, and maybe being attacked by her brother justified her preference to sleep alone and groom herself.
But she was extremely loving too, and I usually woke up with her making happy noises after having slept the last part of the night in my armpit. When she was really affectionate, she "crabbed" - walked on her toes, made hummy noises, hunched her back, and her head pumped in and out with each step, chugging along. Everything to her was an adventure - a new person, watching you iron your clothes or pack a suitcase, sitting on your lap and watching the computer screen change and chasing the cursor with her eyes. She had an interest in anything going on. We should all have such enthusiasm for life.
Katey made the move to California with my husband, Jasper and myself. Both cats got a gentle tranquilizer to ease their trip on the plane, where they were permitted to ride in the cabin in their carriers. On arrival at LAX, once we got outside, my husband wanted to reassure Katey, so reached gently into her carrier to pet her, just as a big plane went overhead. Whether it was the noise or the stress of the trip, she slapped his hand and bit it. Once settled though, she loved the new place, exploring everywhere immediately. A short, plump girl, she found ways to hurl herself up onto high things you'd think she could never reach, and would then call you to show you proudly. Even when mature, she was always to be short-legged and round, retaining a kitten's proportions, and leading her to always be "The Kitten". She was the girl of a thousand names, Katey Lou, Kitty Boo, BooBoo, Beeblerocks, Pudgelet and more. She was another of my cats that loved being sung to, and her song was "Peggy Sue" but sung with her name Katey Lou. Another was "Mona Lisa" sung as "BooBoo Lisa, BooBoo Lisa, how's my kitty? How's my pretty little kitty Katey Lou?" She'd twirl happily, knowing it was for her.
We'd been in California a few years when Katey began doing "her business" outside her litter box. This was not her norm, and I stupidly assumed it was a behavior issue, so I would shame her and carry her to the box again. I did not yet know that in almost every case, a cat that does not use the litter box is suffering from a medical condition and needs to see a vet. Over time though the need to see a veterinarian became obvious. Just like with my other cat Howitzer, her bowels became two-toned brown and tan, rather hard, and she would run wildly through the house after going. She lost some weight, plus began drinking a lot of water. She actually began sleeping right next to the water. Finally I was learning to pay attention to changes in my cats.
A few trips to different vets resulted in imaging being done. The vet who did the scans came and talked with me, with a grim look on her face. The scans showed Katey had cancer all through her, lymphosarcoma. Katey had been drinking so much water because her kidneys were shutting down. The reason she had taken to pooping outside the box was probably pain, because the scans showed that one tumor was pressing on her bowel, effectively making it very hard for anything to get through. Cats in pain when they go to the box begin to associate their pain with the box, and try going somewhere else, hoping it won't hurt there. It's called "litterbox aversion". Though doing one's business elsewhere doesn't stop the pain, it's all they know to try. I am just a layman, but on the scan even I could see the tumors scattered all through her body.
I was floored. Katey was only 5. How could so young a cat get so sick? Then I remembered that even human kids get deadly diseases too.
The visits to the vets had been terrible for Katey. Katey hated being handled, and put up a major fight every time, biting, shrieking, and scratching. If treatment would have helped her, it would have been impossible. At one vet's, a sign was hung on her cage that said "MEGA-CAUTION". Sadly, there was no cure or treatment, and the cancer was all through her. She was already suffering, and at the moment, still lightly tranquilized from her last scan. If it were truly hopeless, now was the time to help her leave this world.
I weepily called my husband to tell him of this development, and he said he would leave work immediately so he could be there for Katey's departure. I explained to him that she was still woozy, and the longer we waited, the more likely she would wake up, and then we'd have to put her through handling and drugging all over again, so despite the fact I know he would have liked to be there for Katey (and for his own reasons, and for me) I elected to move ahead right away.
I sat with Katey for a little while by her cage. She was quite out of it, but recognized me and tried to come to me. I was allowed to hold her, which I did, and I talked with her, telling my Pudgelet that I loved her, and that I was sorry she was so sick and hurting, and that was sorry I had not understood earlier. I told her we loved her, and that soon she would not be hurting, and that I knew one day we'd see each other again. The shot was administered while I held her, and I felt her body go slack, and then my own heart sink.
I picked up her ashes at the crematory about a week later, still aching for this spirited young cat who'd come and gone so quickly through our lives. One amorphous thing of comfort occurred to me though. When LeRoy and Howitzer passed on, I had felt they were not completely ready to go, whether for their own reasons or for mine, and I had felt their spirits linger. With Katey there was no such feeling. She was always up for an adventure, and I felt like she saw the light and scampered happily and quickly away without a backward glance. Sure, she loved us all, but there was something exciting ahead.
Sincere and special thanks to Alice Morton for her kind sponsorship of Katey Lou's memorial.
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Specifically: Ashes in my closet, to be buried with me
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jun 13, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 38287093