Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Icky la Picky Wicky - In Memoriam

Today is a sad day.

If today were yesterday, I would be sitting here at my desk with one of my cats, Ichabod (aka Icky), on my lap. But today is today, and Icky is sadly gone. She had just turned 5.

It all happened so fast, and was completely unexpected. In short, she had a saddle thrombus, likely as the result of heart disease. We always knew she had a slight heart murmur, but it never impacted anything she did judging by her playful actions. Once the episode ocurred, it went downhill very quickly. We did everything we could, culminating in a late night trip down to Angell Memorial in Boston (they were wonderful) to get a second opinion and see what options we had. In the end, it would have been a terribly quality of life, and a short life to boot.

It was, in a word, awful.

Luckily, we have good friends who were selfless and made the evening a little easier. P was on overnight call when this all happened, and one friend was able to come in and cover what is a pretty sucky shift. When his girlfriend asked what he was doing, he explained saying "she would do it for Mike." "Who's Mike?" she asked, having no idea. "He's the dog we're going to have one day." I thought that was really sweet.

Another friend drove P down to Boston from Concord (an hour and a half drive), so she didn't have to drive there alone. She even packed us a few snacks (none of which we could eat as we were both nauseous from the whole thing). She came in to the ER, gave us hugs, and left. Yet another friend sat on the phone with me while I was driving to Boston, assuring me that I was not crazy to make the drive, and just understanding what Icky's life meant to us.

How can you repay this kind of kindness? Having P there made all of this a bit more bearable - I did not want to have to go through it all on my own. Plus, P is a little braver than me in medical situations. Perhaps most importantly, I would have felt terrible if she never had a chance to say goodbye.

I write the above because I know people are always curious as to the cause and the story. However, from here on out I'd like to focus more on her life and how cool a cat she was. So, in no particular order, here is some of what made Icky, Icky:

Every night, around 10:30, she would drag a plastic dowel with a fleece strip attached up the stairs and into our bedroom. It would click up each step, and when she got to the top she'd loudly announce that she had arrived. Sometimes her pronouncement almost sounded like she was saying "hello" (although training her to say that on command was a total failure).

If it were colder outside, she'd then hop on to the bed right where my head lay. This never failed to scare me, even though I knew it was coming. She'd walk over my chest and stand on my right side, scratching at the blanket. That was my cue to pick up the comforter a litle bit so she could crawl under. She would then proceed to circle and plop down near my hip, instantly purring. When P was around, she'd sometimes fall into the small of her back. Inevitably, she would stay for about 10 - 15 minutes, and then crawl out of the blankets and hop off the bed. I considered this her way of tucking us in for bed.

I got so used to it, in fact, that now when traveling it is a little harder for me to fall asleep. I am conditioned to her gentle purr.

Of our two cats, she was the brave one. And the goofy one. She'd be the first to venture out and greet guests (they rarely meet Abner, the other cat, unless they are overnight guests). As a chatty one, she'd say her hellos and rub across your leg as a greeting.

The chattiness... I loved her voice, and that she always had something to say. We had entire conversations.

She had the softest fur of any cat I've ever known. It was thick and so silky that it was cool to the touch. Anyone that ever stroked her agreed.

She was incredibly curious. We purposely saved boxes a little longer to give her (and Abner) a chance to make a temporary fort. It generally took less than 10 seconds of seeing the box before she had to investigate. If at all possible, she would gnaw at the cardboard and spit out bittles of cardboard everywhere. I never minded picking that up; it was clearly a source of pleasure.

She was a bit of an adventurous eater. Our habit of late was that I would finish eating my morning cereal, and then leave the bowl for her to lick. She was particularly fond of Grape Nuts, and Kashi-type cereals that contained "twigs." She also loved nutritional yeast. Just yesterday I made toast with butter and nutritional yeast, and made sure to share some with her. Part of the reason I made it in the first place was because I knew she'd like some. I was a sucker for that cat.

She was a terrible jumper. Her body always seemed a little long for her legs (or maybe just her legs short for her body), and as a result she uncovered ways to jump in increments, using whatever she had around her. I will sorely miss the morning routine of getting out of the shower and leaving the shower curtain slightly open so she could hop on to the tub as her first step in getting on the counter. She would sit and patiently wait for me to do so every day.

She loved to rub her face on anything with an edge. I'd say we tested every edge and corner in the house. I'd pick her up to try a new one, she'd test it out with a good rub, and if the paws started kneading, we'd head back. Her favorite things, however, were rolled up magazines and the brim of a baseball cap. The baseball cap was a double bonus because you could steal some belly rubs as well.

Her hips were incredibly flexible. As someone with a history of back problems, I always envied that in her.



She was good to Abner. They are both shelter rescue cats, and we wonder what their first few months on this planet were like. She was found in a dumpster (which we think explains some of her eating habits), and he was found wandering streets. He has remained skittish, although not mean, and looked to her to help him understand what he should try out. If she rubbed her face one somthing, he'd try. If she wanted to check out a box, he'd want to check it out, too. If she was laying down somewhere, he'd want to be on top of her. She always let him cuddle in, and without fail was the spooner, not the spoonee.









She was my cat. She'd follow me around, and perch herself on or near me. If I was working, she'd nap or bathe or just hang around. Don't get me wrong, I love both of my cats, and am glad that Abner is still around, with all of his quirks and habits. But Icky and I had a special thing going.

That's just a small sample of the reasons why my heart is broken. It's hard to think of her in the past tense, as everything was just fine until, well, it wasn't fine. In a sense I am glad that she had a fantastic 5 years and went quickly, but that's small consolation compared to the fact that she's gone. I can't believe she's gone...
Abner is now sitting on my lap. It's a new day. It isn't quite the same, but I appreciate his kindness.

3 comments:

Mr. Satan A. Chilles said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

Many years ago I had a rabbit (!) and he drove me nuts, showed little affection, and chewed every valuable thing he could clamp his damn teeth on. But the day he suddenly died, I cried my eyes out. So you must be grieving more than I can imagine.

Hang in there, and be happy (as best you can) with the good times you had with Icky, and give everybody else an extra tight hug tonight.

Jodi said...

Thanks. I appreciate it.

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