It seems fitting that today is a gloomy rainy day in my tiny part of the universe. I lost a dear furry friend this morning. Late yesterday afternoon I found Holly, my 15-year-old tiger kitty, lying motionless on the carpeted floor of the cat room. I called to her and when she didn't respond as usual, I knew something was wrong. Though she looked just fine and had no recent history of illness, she didn't come over to me and make welcoming little chortling sounds as she often did. She was cool to the touch, which I knew could be a sign that her organs were failing....but why? The only thing I'd noticed with Holly was that she'd begun sleeping more, but that's not at all unusual for a older cat. It's possible she experienced a stroke or heart failure. Cats can experience some of the same ailments people do, though it's sometimes difficult to tell if a cat is ill unless or until it's in extreme discomfort. I was thankful Holly did not seem to be the least bit uncomfortable. If anything, she looked very peaceful.
I called Glenn to come out to the cat room and together we wrapped Holly in soft blankets and gently placed her in a favorite basket. We put the basket next to one of the heaters in the room and began the waiting game. Had Holly appeared to be struggling or in pain, I would not have hesitated to transport her to the emergency vet clinic. She did move a bit but simply appeared to be sleeping. I think she was actually in a semi-comatose state. After allowing her to warm for a few minutes, I took her out of the basket, sat down on the couch, and held her in my arms. Tears began to flow and cats started gathering 'round us. If anyone ever tells you animals have no feelings, do not believe it. My cats knew something was happening and they responded with loving gestures.
As I was leaning down to whisper to Holly, Blooper scooted up beside me and began to gently push his head into mine, so much so, that his shiny black fur caught my tears. Little Betsy, another of my older cats, placed two paws ever so gently inside Holly's blanket and touched her. She held them there for the longest time. Holly and Betsy had been friends and when Betsy's eyes met mine, I'm sure I detected sadness. Elliot, one of my younger boys, situated himself on the arm of the couch on my left side while Dixie, Baxter, Big Tig, and a few of the other cats sat at my feet watching my expressions the whole time. Though it was a sad occasion, it was also heartwarming and comforting for so many of the cats to be there with Holly and me as we said our goodbyes.
Though I thought her passing would be swift, it was not. I held her for a long time, then placed her back into the basket to stay warm. Betsy repeated the gesture of putting her paws under the blankets in order to touch her friend. Blooper sat atop the heater, peered down on Holly, and continued to gently bump his head against mine as I leaned over to check the sleeping cat. Tiny little Kelly, the mama to my three big boys (Elliot, Bailey, and Rusty) sat at the side of Holly's basket and held vigil. She was still there when I came back into the cat room after taking a short break.
I stayed with Holly for long intervals and all the while, some of the other cats were close to the basket, never disturbing it, but standing guard, as it were. I couldn't help but think what a peaceful way this was to leave the world - wrapped in soft blankets and surrounded by gentle loving friends. We will miss you, my feisty little Holly. You brought much joy to our lives and we'll always love you.