"Purring would seem to be, in her case, an automatic safety-valve device for dealing with happiness overflow." ~ Monica Edwards, English children's writer, November 8, 1912 – January 18, 1998 ~
Fourteen months after Cuddles brought an entire new joy to my life, another little purr child came aboard. I thought one cat was plenty for one house; Cudz and I shared a tight, tight bond that I believed no other cat could share with me. Oh, such are the beliefs seeped in sheer cat ignorance I had in those days!
One unusually cold October 1st evening for the Shreveport, Louisiana area, I was at my neighborhood Kmart. I knew one of the assistant managers and he told me that the Garden Center had a homesteader of a mama cat with three tiny kittens. Of course, he began urging me to take all four of them, but I knew I didn't have room for any long-time fostering. I was just about fostered out as it was.
But my curiosity was killing me. I kept wondering about the cat family ... wondering if the mama could stay with her kittens, wondering if she was getting enough to eat to properly feed them. The next thing I knew the store hours had ended. Well, Brian clinched the situation by laying the loudspeaker's microphone on the floor of the Garden Center after all the shoppers had left. Soon all over the store, one could hear the mewing of the kittens. And to me, they were hungry sounding. I had to get that cat and her kittens, bring them home, feed them, and find homes for them all.
When I got to the Center, Brian knew he had me, so the two of us began trying to find exactly where the family had vanished once we opened the doors to the Center. Only one little kitten remained in the open; right in the middle of the entrance way she stood. To this day, when I think of her in kitten-hood, I still picture a tiny, tiny striped tabby kitten on wobbly legs, with front legs spread and nothing but a pink mouth opened wide with thin mewls coming out. No matter how hungry she was, she was a feisty little thing. When I bent to pick her up, she hissed and growled, backing up and arching her wee back. I told Brian to get me the smallest treat Kmart carried and I would pay for it before leaving. She took the snack I'd crumbled into small pieces and immediately I was hers. She snuggled into my arms, then climbed to my shoulder where she stayed until I left nearly an hour later.
I stayed until the last employee left, hoping that Mama would return. I felt so guilty for taking one kitten, not being able to rescue the entire family. I've often consoled myself thinking she was watching me from within the shadows of the night, giving me her blessing for providing shelter and food for her kit, no matter how short-lived it may become.
On the short drive home, I decided that I would keep her. I couldn't give her away, but she would definitely have to become an outside cat - new to cat rescue, what did I know about dangers to outside cats? Cuddles was too special for the kit to share my house and Cuddles was no longer a kitten. She was 15 months old and wouldn't want to have an outsider living with us permanently, right??? But for the cold nights, I would bring her inside to the guestroom, give her a litter box and food. Otherwise, she was to be an outside cat.
When I got her home, I realized her eyes were barely open. She had to be just three weeks old. I knew she wasn't yet weaned and while I was busily keeping an eye out for Cuddles' reaction and searching for a medicine dropper to give milk with, the kit had found the small cat bowl with Cudz' dry food and was scarfing it down the best she could. So much for that dilemma. I would give her softened dry food from then on until she could eat the dry food better.
Cuddles refused to come out from beneath my bed that night. I knew she was highly offended, but I thought she'd soon get used to seeing the kit in the evenings and all would be well once more. She would know she was foremost in my life - the outside kitty was to be a visitor once in awhile and during bad days and nights.
The next morning before going to the office, I put the wee kit on the patio with a shoe box that had FancyBoy's little blanket my grandmother had crocheted for him, put out plenty of water and kitten food. All day I worried about her. Was she warm enough, was she hungry for she was so tiny and needed to be fed every few hours, did she know how to eat alone or would the instinct she had the night before still be there, and last, but not least, was my fenced backyard safe enough for such a young kitten?
I left a little early so I could get her to the vet. Sure enough, she was at the backyard gate as I pulled onto the carport, seemingly very happy to see me.
The staff at my vet's was tickled pink that I had another cat (they'd known I was an avid dog lover and rescuer), though they didn't think I would be keeping the kit outdoors long. I assured them that I would be doing just that.
My vet's secretary and I exchanged books frequently. That particular evening, she had just loaned me a new Danielle Steel book. After the vet had checked the kit out (fleas and intestinal parasites, but otherwise in good shape though a little underweight to be approximately three weeks old), he told me I was the proud mother of another little girl. Then he asked what had I named her. Without thinking, I promptly answered "Danielle." Thusly so, this is how Dani got her name. We gave her the birth date of September 7.
The next day we had a heavy, heavy frost. I was beginning to change my mind about keeping Dani outside during the day since I'd been to the vet. She was so very young and she needed another cat to keep her company and anyway, I was finding myself worrying about her too much during the day. Cudz would just have to get out of her catness and accept Dani.
In the meantime, a friend of my youngest brother's had dropped in for coffee and a chat. After he checked out the new kitten, I put her outside so we could visit, though I knew it was colder that day than any other day since bringing her home. When he got ready to leave 35 minutes later, we stood in front of his car talking for another 15 or so minutes. He told me a now-forgotten joke and we both cracked up, with me slapping the hood of his car. Out popped Dani. That did it ... from that day forward, she strictly stayed indoors.
But Cuddles hissed and spat every time Dani appeared in her presence. I tried and tried everything I knew to help Cuddles accept her little sister; all to no avail. I worried and worried that the household would be miserable unless Cuddles miraculously would take to her.
Patience ... Several weeks later, I was in the kitchen when it dawned on me that I hadn't heard any hissing and spitting for some time. On tippy-toes, I peeped around the doorway into the living room. Cudz was on her side with Dani snuggled up against Cuddles' tummy, her head on Cuddles' foreleg as Cuddles washed and washed Dani's ears and head. I was so excited! It took everything I had to retrieve the camera quietly and get back to take a picture. Somehow I did and have that moment forever captured on film.
It didn't take long for Dani to earn her special niche in my heart. Both Cuddles and Dani had their own personalities, their own individual catness that I loved.
Dani was a true nursing kitty. She sensed "people moods" faster than any of the other Kiddens. When Craig or I were feeling badly, she was instantly there, snuggling up offering much needed comfort.
Dani had a small, stocky body. Whereas Cuddles was a long and lean gray and black striped tabby, Dani was brown and black striped; yet so often, many who saw them together would confuse who's who.
Dani developed osteoarthritis in her lower back when she was about six years old. She was still the very active cat for many years, though she'd slowed down considerably as she advanced in age. At the first signs of limping or pain, she was taken in for a veterinarian checkup and/or shots to alleviate her pain. She loved to be outside, quietly basking in the sun; therefore, we made sure she had supervised outdoor outings during nice weather several times a day year round. The sun surely must've eased any arthritic pain, for she seemed to be happiest laying in the grass or walkways on sunny days.
Dani bonded with all who met her. She was special, just as sweet Cuddles was ... and was her PurrDad Craig's very own sweetheart and lap kitty.
Mid-August 2002 Dani's health began to seriously fail. Weight had been falling off of her ten pound body at an alarming rate. She dropped to 6.2 pounds in less than two months. We were absolutely terrified that we would lose her before she turned 17 years old in September.
For nine weeks straight we took her to Dr Steve for a weekly checkup and additional pain medications, both injection and oral. We started sub-quing her and giving her oral pain management drugs twice a week, and adding powerful nutritional supplements in her food. She had to be fed small meals, so we gave her about 6-8 little meals within a 24 hour period. Finally, her weight began to slowly increase, roughly about two ounces a week, which made us jump for joy every vet visit.
Dr Steve put her on a different monthly injection in October, 2002 and told us to continue the oral pain management medication along with the sub-quing - her kidneys are showing a bit of deterioration; the sub-quing would help keep the kidneys from overworking. When she had her monthly injection during the October 21 appointment, she weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces. Her mobility and agility had vastly improved. She could jump and run and do all the wonderful things that cats love to do. She lifted our hearts and brought smiles to our faces. She'd been a great little trouper.
Our sweet Danielle would have been 20 years old September 7, 2005. She had been battling chronic arthritis, requiring monthly Adequan injections for the last three years of her life. Nearly four years before that she became borderline diabetic and was entering renal failure. We kept her in good quality health with daily sub-ques and used Feline Transfer Factor with her diet.
March, 2005 Dani rapidly started losing weight once more, just as she had done back in August, 2002. Dr Steve told me I had to increase the sub-ques, but I explained how she'd been fighting me for months. He said that after awhile animals, especially cats, will resist long-term sub-quing and to do the best that I could. He also gently reminded me to watch for signs that she was giving up.
That actually happened. Each night when I would get home around 11:45 or midnight, she would lay upon my chest for part of the few hours I would snag sleep before starting another day. Each day it became apparent that she was becoming weaker and weaker. She stopped her wondrous purring - our Dani was the purromatic of all time. She began to cry quite a bit, our sweet little girl who never complained, no matter how badly she felt. That last Monday night when I came in, she refused to eat. I managed to force-feed a couple tablespoons of food into her. The next morning she spit up everything I forced down her.
But each day the force-fed amount of food became less and less. Very few times would she keep it down. By Thursday evening she could barely walk on her own and totally refused all food. Friday, April 22, 2005, my 54th birthday, I knew we had to let her go. When Craig arrived home shortly after 2:15pm from work, we took our precious little Dani to the vet for the last time.
We released her from this life at 2:50pm. She's whole and happy again - KC, Cuddles, Spook, JacquiLee, Skeeter, and Rebel - our little AngelKitties whom she loved and lived with during her lifetime, met her at the Bridge and took her home for safekeeping until we can be there ourselves.
My Darling Dani-Bani, we shared so many beautiful years together. Just like my beloved Cuddles, you will always hold a special place in my heart. You were my second cat in my adulthood, but never were you second place. I miss your gentle headbutts and your loving, nursing ways when my spirits are low or when I'm ill. My sweet, sweet Dani, I miss you and love you dearly. We were heartbroken when you left us, but know you are enjoying life as you did in your younger years. Knowing you, when your PurrDad met you at the Bridge, you and Cuddles were having a purring contest just as you did here. I'll join you all soon, my little charming Purromatic.
Shadow's Song (On the Death of a Cat)
I'm not gone ... not really.
I haven't gone away ... I've only gotten bigger.
My eyes, so bright, now shine among the stars.
My voice sings with the wind in winter, as I leap
And dance among the tree tops.
I stalk the blown leaves in autumn, and brush the
Flowers gently in the spring.
I come to you in dreaming, on feet grown dreamtime soft,
And lay my cheek against yours, and whisper:
"Peace be with you."
Someday we will play again together, you and I, among the stars.
'Til then, fear not to love, for your love gave my life meaning.
And I return that love to you ... a hundredfold ... a thousandfold ...
~ Audrey E Nickel ~
FancyBoy Stallings Dog
JoJo Stallings Dog
Cuddles Stallings Bachman Cat
Kaitong Chang Stallings Bachman Cat
Spook Stallings Bachman Cat
Missy Hedge Cat
Sylvester Bachman Cat
Samson Bachman Cat
Lucky Jax Stallings Bachman Cat
Autumn Bachman Stallings Cat
JacquiLee Bachman Cat
Goblin Bachman Cat
Tigger Bachman Cat
Midnight Bachman Cat
RedBoy Bachman Cat
Penny Bachman Dog
Princess Bachman Dog
Susie The Cat
Spic Bachman Cat
Breeze Bachman Cat
Smut Bachman Cat
Puglena Bachman Dog
Skeeter Bachman Cat
Rebel Bachman Cat
Cheerio Bachman Cat
Sputnik Bachman Cat
Li'l Craigster The Squirrel