Yesterday was a sad day for me. I had to say good-bye to a pet that has been with me for 12 years.. Meeloo was my first cat and my first pet I had with Chantale, though I knew the cat before I met her. She had definitely left her mark on me as I would have not called myself a cat person before I took ownership of her. I still would not call myself that, but, she was a dear pet that I have fond memories of.
I first met Meeloo as I moved into a townhouse with a friend from work. As I was unpacking, she came in, sniffed at me, meowed and left. I guess she was sizing me up to see if I was a threat. Once I was fully moved in, she would greet me each morning by the bathroom and we were have a conversation of sorts.
Me: Good morning cat.
Me: You good?
Me: I’ll feed you after my shower.
She’d then head downstairs and wait. My roommate thought I was a bit crazy talking to the cat but I didn’t mind. It became a morning routine with the cat.
About 6 months after moving in, my roommate moved out and left the cat. I had been dating Chantale for a few months and she came to live with me. I don’t think Meeloo liked her at first. She was a bit stand-offish and did not like to be touched. She also had some bad habits, like biting and pooping on the floor (the downstairs bathroom was her litter box for a while,) but we tried to get her out of those habits to various degrees of success.
Meeloo warmed up to Chantale in about a year. She even warned her when the bedroom was flooded by a broken eavestrough during a summer rain storm. Chantale warmed to her too, being genuinely concerned when she fell out a second story window when the screen gave way. Chantale rushed outside to see her on the grass, crouched on all fours, wondering where she was. Meeloo was an indoor cat but she was always wondering what was outside.
She even tried to escape sometimes. Once, I found her in my gym bag, trying to go to work with me. Luckily I noticed before I left home, and got her out of there. Another time she ran out when I opened the door in our townhouse complex. Imagine her shock when she saw nothing but doors! She would have to be contend with looking outside the window for now.
Now, I said I was not a cat person. I could have justified giving her up and taking her to the Humane Society. But I didn’t. I feel that, when you adopt a pet, you are responsible to that animal for its entire life. Stories of people dropping the pets off at pounds or the side of the road or give the pet up to punish children anger me. Allergies and bad reaction to babies I can understand but I still find it sad. So, when it came time to move to Victoria, I took her with us.
Driving with a cat in a carrier in your back seat is an interesting experience, at least with Meeloo. She would be quiet at first, but after a while, she would meow incessantly. We would stop for food of a break and I would put here on a leash to let her stretch her legs. Oh, the looks I got trying to walk a cat on a leash! At night we would set her up at the hotel, with her food and litter and go out to eat. When we came back, she had eaten, done her business and was exploring the room. The next morning, we would put her in the carrier and it started again.
Once in Victoria, I notice a change in her. She became our cat and let us pet her and she would sometimes snuggle up to us. We would still have the same morning ritual, her greeting me in the morning and me feeding her, but changed slightly. I worked shift work and on occasion worked from the evening to 6:30 AM. Meeloo would wait for me in the living room window and greet me as I walked in:
Me: Morning, cat. You want food??
Me; Here you go. I’m off to bed.
She still had an obsession with the outside and wanted to go out. For all I know, she could have been an outdoor cat a one point before as she was an adult even when my roommate got her. I was not really sure of her age, guessing a birthdate of 2002 though she could have been 2 to 6 years older than that. But she still seemed like a younger cat, then. She would look out the windows, see the birds and “trill”, like a meow/purr combo. She even like to see the deer. She once got out and ran towards one but stopped short of it. She seemed to be in awe. The deer itself (tame and used to humans) sniffed her them walked away. She never went up to one again, but loved it when they were in the yard.
She also got loose a few times. Once a winter storm knocked the power out in my neighbourhood for two days. The power came on early Sunday morning, waking Chantale and I. We went out for a late meal and came home afterwards. After an hour. I noticed we hadn’t seem the cat. She must have snuck out as we left or came home as I found her on the front step, meowing to come in. When I opened the door, however, she ran off but into another cat who hissed at her. She dropped down and I picked her up and took her inside.
Another time was during a spring storm. Again, she snuck out as we came home from grocery shopping and we didn’t notice for hours. Our neighbour came by, telling us she saw our cat huddled under the back step. Sure enough, Meeloo was there, soaked and shivering. I picked her up, brought her in and swaddled her in a towel. And she let me. Her limit for affection was usually a few minutes before she got bitey, but she let me dry her off and hold her for few hours. She even let me rub her belly after that.
Soon, we had to move again. We went back to Kingston and bought a house. But we decided to add to our family by getting a dog. When we brought Azrael home, he was a 10 week old puppy, shy but curious. As he explored his new home Meeloo came up to him. With is stubbly tail wagging and went to sniff her and she bopped him in the nose with her paw. For the longest time that’s how she greeted him. Azrael thought that’s how you greet a cat and did it back. When he got bigger, Meeloo found herself at a disadvantage. Azrael so wanted to play and be her friend, but Meeloo’s age was beginning to show and she wanted very little to do with the dog.
My relationship with her changed too. Dogs are more needy so Azrael got most of the attention. Meeloo would prefer to hide until he was sleeping or outside. I wouldn’t usually see her until after my shower, once I went to the kitchen to eat.
Me: Morning, old girl.
Me; I gave you fresh food and water earlier. You should be good.
Me; You dish is full! Look-
I’d noticed that the dish was empty. Azrael has snuck in and ate her food. That’s okay because Meeloo would occasionally snack for his dish. She would also what treats all the time, which we would withhold his she pooped on the floor instead of her litter box, which was often. Luckily the poop was confined to the laundry room where her litter was. This was nothing new: old habits being hard to break.
Meeloo eventually learned to accept the dog. Azrael would occasionally try to play with her but she’d meow and take off. When he was calm, however, they would lay down near, but not quite beside each other. They would sniff each other, sleep in the same bed as with each other (with us) and even exchanged licks. I got a couple of pictures where they were sitting near each other . Azrael really wanted to play more with his “sister,” but Meeloo was getting old.
In 2014, I noticed how Meeloo was a bit slower getting up the stairs. In 2015, she started to take longer to jump up on the couch, sometimes failing to jump up and walking away to avoid embarrassment (if cats could feel that.) I’d brushed it off as her age catching up to her. She was more affectionate thoug, laying next to me on the arm of the couch or crawling beside me on the bed, despite the dog being there. She also was more demanding, pawing at door until someone got up and checked her dish (if she could see the bottom of her food dish, there wasn’t enough.) She’d even climb in the shower after we were done and lick the condensation off of the shower curtain. Meeloo was still a demanding cat, but seemed full of life.
On February 5th, I got at text from Chantale asking me to come straight home from work. When I left that morning, it started off like the usual day. I saw her in the bathroom after my shower. She demanded her dish to be up to her standards. The previous day she had crapped outside the laundry room, which wasn’t normal, but it could have been stuck to her fur. She wandered off to sleep as I was about to go. Chantale saw her too that morning, but she disappeared into one of the bedrooms. At 2 PM, she saw Meeloo walk out of the spare bedroom, limping like her leg was cramped. She hobbled into the room where I keep my kit. Then she began meowing loudly. Chantale found her under an end table. She pooped herself and could not move her hind legs. She was breathing rapidly and appeared to be in discomfort. As we didn’t have a vet for her, we had to wait for the Pet hospital to open at 6 and too her there. I figured that she wouldn’t be coming back. I thought I could handle it.
After taking a look, the vet said she might have had a heart attack. Her heart was beating erratically and had a murmur. She had fluid in her lungs. Meeloo could move her legs due to a blood clot. Medication could clear out the clots but her heart was bad and there was no guarantee of recovery. I admit I teared up when I heard that, but I forced it down. Not wanting her to suffer, Chantale and I agreed with the vet that euthanizing Meeloo was the most humane course of action. I stayed close to her. I whispered in her ear that she was a good kitty as they shaved a spot for the needle. I stroked her head as they injected her to put her to sleep. I felt her last breath leave her little body. My friend, my cat, my beloved pet was gone.
I cried. After the vet confirmed she passed on, I hugged Chantale, meaning to comfort her but seeking solace from her too. I remember other pets that I have lost, wishing I was there with them when they, too, left this world. A grown man, crying over a cat! But I did. She was part of my life for 14 years. She deserves a tear or two.
It’s been a day now. Azrael has looked for her. He was confused when we packed her dish away and move his dish to her spot. He doesn’t quite understand wan his Mon and Dad are sad or where his older sister has gone. I hope he remembers the kind moments he had with Meeloo. I know Chantale will miss her, despite her occasional desire to kick the cat outside (I sure she feels the same about me, some times.) I will miss her. Her antics. Her presence. But most of all, I’ll miss our early morning conversations. Azrael doesn’t stay too long after I take him out for his duties (unless I have toast) and he rarely talks back. I like to think that if she could talk, once last time, she’d say she’ll miss us. I know that I, that we all in this house, miss her.
Rest in peace, my friend.