I had to have my rescue kitty put to sleep yesterday...he was old, sick and suffering. It was sad but I pray that his transition was painless and that he is able to come back into a better life than he had in this one.
He picked us. He just followed my daughter home one day. He set up residence in our front yard. Sleeping on our front porch. We fed him, of course, and made sure he had water and warmth when it was cold. He seemed relatively happy until two loose dogs almost killed him. They grabbed him off our front porch and, well, you can imagine what they did.
The vet was able to piece him back together, not all better, but better. The lady whose dogs they were paid for all the vet bills which were large and expensive. And he got another chance at life...
When he came home from the vet, he recuperated in my office for months. His hair growing back from all the shaving and slowly healing his leg so that he could walk on it. I attend a lot of Zoom meetings, and he kind of became a Zoom star because he was present for every single meeting I attended during the pandemic.
God, he was sweet. Not an angry or pissy bone in his body. He was just a giant orange fluff ball of love.
His name, well, that was something kind of special too. When my son was little, he couldn’t say Orange, he said Ornage instead. So when this guy showed up, Ornage is the name that stuck. I tried, unsuccessfully to change it to O’Malley (O’Malley the alley cat) but that name did not stick and so Ornage it was.
And when he was finally all healed, he wanted to go back outside. But he could not return to his previous life on our front porch, he was defenseless against roving dogs, coyotes and even a raccoon (they are GIANT in our neighborhood). So what to do?
My other two cats were having none of this, “we got another cat, make room,” kind of stuff. They were adamantly opposed to his inside addition to our family. And keeping him locked in my office forever, seemed, well, mean.
So I introduced the dogs to him and got them used to each other and allowed him to go out into the backyard. And it worked, so he went from front porch cat, to backyard cat with only a near death experience in between.
When it got cold, I didn’t want him outside in that so I opened up my son’s room since he is away now and gave him the floor right in front of the heater. So he could roam around the backyard all day and then be safe and warm at night. It worked and so we lived for a couple of years.
But lately, he was deteriorating. He stopped bathing himself and even though I tried to brush him, his fur became matted and smelly. He had upper respiratory issues and his eyes were glassy and sick. I had a hard time letting go. Then three people who love me, one of them my daughter, said, “It is time.” I knew they were right. So I made the call.
Last night Dr. Bailey came over and together we helped Ornage transition to whatever is next for him. I was so grateful to Dr. Bailey for still doing house calls. For allowing Ornage to die at home, being petted and loved on by the people who became his family.
And I cried. And even that was good. I am the kind of person who cries when pets die or get hurt. And I like that about myself. I like that I care so much about them and their wellbeing. I love them and care for them so when they pass, I feel it. It hurts and I can cry because it hurts.
Some people might begrudge me my open and tender heart but not me, I no longer try to change what is unchangeable in me. I am soft and mushy where animals are concerned. I just can’t help it and I don’t even try anymore...I am glad that I am the person that spends the evening crying because I am sad. I am ok with the fact that tears roll down my cheeks as I write this tribute to a life that touched mine. I am ok with tears today and even things that happen that bring the tears. I am grateful to love today and to be able to fully feel the loss when the one I love, dies.
I pray that he is at peace now. Released to whatever awaits us all next. For me, I picture my grandmother on the other side, she is always waiting for my pets. She greets them, and they follow her back to farm house where they live in perpetuity together without hurt or death or pain. There are a lot of them there with her which makes her happy, and makes me happy too.
I will likely cry again when I go out to take care of the goats and he isn’t there. It is going to take me awhile to let go. It is always a process for me. A one heart string at a time process...as healing takes the place of grieving.
Today I know that I am better for loving him and for him picking us to be his final home. There is something so honorable about being selected by a child or animal. I guess it is because I believe that they see people’s essence better than adults do. They are not trapped by societal norms and demands, they live a purer life that is based on feeling and believing.
And so as I go forward with my life, I will allow myself to believe that Ornage saw something in us that was so worthy that he picked us over all the other people he could have. And I am immensely grateful to have been given the opportunity to love him while he was here.
Fare thee well, sweet boy. I miss you already.