Yesterday morning we woke up to go out and like every other morning, there she was, sitting in front of the couch watching us get ready. Honestly, I don’t remember seeing her when we got home, but that was not unusual as sometimes she’d be asleep under the bed or couch. Oddly, no one went into the sun room yesterday until after dark, when I went to close the shades. I was looking around and didn’t see her, but didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary. Around 10pm, we went to do the nightly ritual of the treats. I shook the container and was instantly met by Osha, then Theodore. I gave them their treats and asked Wayne to help me find Ratty, assuming she was under the bed. She wasn’t. He went through the apartment and found her. She had passed away in the sun room, behind the round cat condo she used to always sleep on, and under the climber. We are not sure what happened.
I consider Theodore, Ratty, and Osha my family, like kids. I guess I have that extra caring for them because unlike humans, they can’t always defend themselves or have a voice when things are wrong. This one has hit me harder because even though I have lost pets in the past, in most cases I kind of knew it was going to happen and had a chance to say “goodbye” (Mindy and Ali (I didn’t have that opportunity with Lee)). However in the past, when that time came, I never saw it. This is the first time in my life I wasn’t able to say goodbye and then had to see their lifeless body. I sat on the floor, I just pet her for a few minutes, and cried. We wrapped her up in a blanket and for only the second time, I held her for a brief moment, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Up to this point, the only time I ever held her was last year at the vet. When she went there, she was so terrified, she never tried to run, so I was able to pick her up, hold her, and pet her while we spoke with the vet. It is tough even typing this as I miss my little girl already.
It was mid-July 2008 when we got Ratty. There was a family of cats outside of where I worked and one by one, they were caught and were found homes for. Ratty was the first to be caught and I took her home. For the next two weeks, she lived in our laundry room, inside the dryer to be exact. We left the door open and just put a gate up so her and Theodore could get to know each other. We rarely ever saw her as she was new to living indoors and I don’t think she fully trusted humans yet. I slept in full view of the laundry room and one night I woke up about 2am and saw Ratty walking on the top of the gate. She jumped into the apartment, so I ran over and closed the door so now she’d be in the apartment itself.
We still rarely saw her as she pretty much stayed hidden when we were home. If you got up in the middle of the night, you’d see her out, then it would just be a gray streak as she went back into hiding, which is where the name Ratty came from.
A few weeks later, she started to come out while we were home, though she always kept her distance, but at least we could see her. She seemed to really love Theodore as she’d ALWAYS be at his side, so as long as she was happy.
A year later we moved to the place we are now. She now had the sunroom, where she spent the bulk of her day on the little cat condo, curled up in the window. She was getting more comfortable, though we were still never allowed to pick her up. Three or four times I was able to reach over and actualy scratch her ears and neck and she’d purr, before running away. It was progress.
Occasionally I would get to play with her. She liked this round toy that had a ball inside and she’d watch as I spun it, then reach in and swat at the ball. Sometimes she’d jump at and try to catch the ribbon like material on the stick.
When we got Osha, she became more of the mother of the group. Though Osha would jump on her and try to wrestle her down or chase her through the apartment, she always came to his defense. After I shower, Osha will always run into the bathroom and start meowing. If I picked him up and got him wet, he’d cry (this is a routine, he does this every day), and she’d come running to the door and give me the stare down until I put him down. She would go up and make sure he was okay. Then he’d chase her. I can’t tell you how many times, Theodore would walk by the bed, Osha would jump off and chase him, then Ratty would come flying out from under the bed in persuit.
The one thing I was always hoping for was the day she’d put aside whatever fear or concern she had and come up to us. Two of my oldest friends Steve & Lisa had a cat named Mookie who passed away. Mookie never really came near me. One day we went over to let Mookie out while they were on vacation. I was sitting on the couch watching TV for a few minutes, then all of a sudden, Mookie was sitting on my chest staring at me. It was like I was finally accepted. I always looked forward to Ratty just jumping up and wanting attention someday, but now that will never happen.
Though she never really came near us, I feel deep down inside she was happy and that she loved us as well. When I was sick and would be in bed, I would wake up and see her sleeping by my legs. Then when I saw her, she’d take off. Though very rarely, she came up on the bed at night. She slept under the bed most nights, sometimes you could hear her snore under the bed.
I always thought it was funny that she was such a clean freak. She didn’t like a dirty litter box. If Theodore or Osha didn’t cover things up to her standards, she’d go in there and bury things properly. One time Theodore threw up in the living room and she actually went into the bedroom, grabbed one of my socks, and covered it up.
Over the years, she’d coming running over for certain things. When teasing Osha, the sound of the can opener, and the shaking of the box of treats. It didn’t matter what I was opening in the kitchen, if she heard the can opener move the slightest bit, it meant she was getting the water from the tuna can. She was disappointed a lot when it was other things, but she knew if it tuna, she was going to get it. Same for the treats. Usually at 9pm, she was already sitting on the bed waiting. If not, a quick shake of the container, and she’d come running in. I am really going to miss seeing her face light up at those things.
I am going to miss sitting at the computer and start hearing her meow loudly when she was playing with her toy mice. She would have her one favorite she’d carry all over the apartment, meowing as if she letting us all know this was hers. All the other toy mice she’d play with, then put them in the water bowls for some reason, but the pink one was special to her.
I am going to miss sitting in the living room and hearing her in the sunroom talking to Wayne. She’d look at him and meow, he’d meow back, and this could go on for minutes. I would meow to her, but she’d just stare at me.
I will miss how she’d always stop and take great pictures. It seemed like she enjoyed having her picture taken.
I am not sure how animals really deal with death. I know humans have a lot harder time letting go. Last night as I sat in the sunroom crying over Ratty, Osha and Theodore were in there as well on the other side of the room. Though I saw them watch, I never saw them go over to her. Then again, if this happened earlier in the day, maybe they did earlier. I don’t know. I do now that today, they seem a bit out of it. Earlier, Osha was looking around the apartment and I was wondering if he is trying to find her. Right now, Theodore is on the bed and Osha is in the sunroom on the top of their other climber.
I had to stop for a few minutes, in that time, all of us kind of laid on the bed. Theodore and Osha getting petted, not fighting. I guess they know what the feeling is here today.
This is going to be a really tough 24 hours. The animal hospital we go to doesn’t open until 8 or 8:30 tomorrow morning, so right now, she is bundled up in the other room so we can take her there. Hoping I don’t turn into a complete wreck when we get there, but chances are I will.
The only thing I hope is that in her eyes, though the time was short, we gave her a happy life. She always had the important things in food and a roof over her head. During that ice storm in January 2011, she was inside a warm apartment rather than living in a maze carved inside of bushes. Past that, she had her extras like tuna water, treats, and toys. She had Theodore and Osha, which she regular would cuddle up against and go to sleep.. and she had two people in Wayne and myself who loved her greatly and would’ve done anything for her. I just hope she was happy.
I love you Ratty girl and I will always miss you! :..(