My beloved cat Xena died this week. She was euthanized Wednesday. She had been a bit off starting three weeks ago but only this week, she stopped eating except for babyfood I fed her. Then she couldn’t eat even that. My vet had retired in April. I had trouble finding a vet on the Outer Cape that was open except one where I hated them because they were responsible for the death of one of my cats, Puck. They didn’t listen to the symptoms I told them about but insisted he needed a tooth cleaning. That simply further weakened him.
She became extremely ill so quickly it was hard to comprehend. I took her to a vet in Orleans who did a number of tests. She could not find exactly what was killing Xena so she recommended we take her to a Dennis animal hospital that could do detailed ultrasound and feed her intravenously. We had several conversations with them after Woody brought her in. He was on his way back when the vet called me. Xena’s ultrasound showed a mass on her liver – cancer. I don’t understand why a big healthy strong cat like Xena suddenly got cancer. The vet outlined to me to a series of options, none of which were more than remotely likely to save her and some of which would be risky. They would all have to be done off Cape and would require a lengthy hospitalization. The end result was dubious. Reluctantly Woody and I made the decision that she could be euthanized at once rather than go through more pain and staying for six more days in a hospital over the bridge with a poor prognosis. Woody turned around and went back to the hospital and she died in his arms, purring, her head in the crook of his arm. He brought the body back and we buried her Wednesday evening marking the grave with a David Austin rose, dark pink, fragrant.
Xena loved Woody but she was primarily my cat. She slept with me every night of her life from the time she came into the house from MSPCA. She had been a street kitten and she never forgot how dangerous the outside was. She would back away when the outer doors were opened. She hated for us to go out. She was the top cat and a good one. The other three cats accepted her rule and now are lost and confused. She and I understood each other and could communicate with body language, eye contact and my spoken word. She was a quiet cat, seldom meowing, never howling except when taken to the vet. I loved her. I have been weeping ever since. She was unique, special, loving — the Xena Warrior Queen, I called her. She was so strong until suddenly she wasn’t..
As the week goes on, I keep getting little jolts. I wake up and she doesn’t climb on my chest and look into my eyes. As I drink my morning coffee, she is not at my side. At 11 o’clock treat time, no Xena. No cat beside my computer or in the other desk chair. The loss goes on and on. Mingus, our oldest and smallest cat whom she adored, is walking around wailing, looking, wailing some more. Never doubt that cats mourn. Jim Beam mourned Boris whom he had found in a tree and brought home, mourned him for a month. Willow is nervous and clingy. Schwartzie is acting out.
The only thing that feels a bit consoling is working in the garden. Something about planting eases me. I just planted two rosemarys in pots. Now I need to plant two kinds of butternuts and five other winter squash seeds in the lowest garden by the road. Woody is planting two rhubarbs we just bought. It was a thrill to walk around in the nursery. I haven’t been anyplace but the parking lot of the vet in almost two months.
I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything since she died Wednesday afternoon. This is the only writing I’ve done except for a notice on FB. I don’t feel like reading or watching anything much. I’m spending as much time as possible with the other cats. I want them to feel better. Otherwise I want to be in the garden whenever possible. The crab apples are coming into rosy bloom. Still many daffodils, blue wood scillas, lungwort, the bipolar quince bush, a pear and our sour cherry in full bloom, the old apple tree that came to life last year for the first time since this was a farm is now about to open its flowers. The growing and blossoming plants and bushes and trees comfort me. Life goes on, they say. Use the time you have left before you too are under the earth like Xena.