As I sat in the sunroom of our house in Missouri, little did I know I was witnessing the birth of a dear, dear friend. It was Aug. 10, 1995 and our stray cat named Jamima was giving birth to her second litter of kittens. Poor Jamina was exhausted after already delivering 5 of them and the last one had taken it's toll on her. She just didn't seem to have the energy to be able to clean that last kitten & get it breathing...so being the mom & helper that I am I had to intervene. I was a bit reluctant as I'm aware that even the nicest cat may become nasty when someone interfers with her babies. So I waited and gave her a chance to do it on her own. When she didn't I ever so gently brought the sack enclosed kitten up to her, so she could take care of of the newest bundle. And so our life together began.
Scout had us wrapped around her finger from the get-go. She loved to be held & get attention. It was so bad that even when we wanted to run the sweeper she wanted held & she cried!...So my daughter & I accomodated her by using a Cabbage Patch doll baby carrier so she could be close to us..Well we HAD to get the sweeping done, afterall.!
I wondered what I'd gotten us into when one day she decided to devour a ribbon!..You know the kind you curl with scissors? Yep well it doesn't curl when it's sticking out of the backend of a cat! She ended up having to have a sedative so the vet could pull out the 3 yards of ribbon! He'd never seen anything like it! Afterwards we knew we had to be careful with stuff like that. We witnessed her actually getting the lid off a rubbermaid container to get at the stored ribbons! I kid you not! But look at that face? How could you be upset with that?
A few years later our family moved to Alaska. Driving up the Alaska/Canadian highway was a real trip with two vehicles using walkie-talkies, a geriatric dog, a Rex bunny, Scout and a husband & daughter.
Even while in MO. Scout was accustomed to having other critters around; our geriatric dog, Cody, her half-brother Newton, her mama Jamima, Hootie the bunny, gerbils and numerous ducks. While in Alaska though we also had 10 fancy rats! How did she react you may wonder? Well, all the animals seemed to know that everyone belonged with us and this was no different. Scout would lay along my legs while I was sitting in the chaise chair as we had one or two of the rats running back and forth across my lap! Scout would sniff noses with them then turn her back on them reclining there like she knew she was still the queen.
Then we got orders to go to Germany. Oh my! By this time we only had the rats and still the geriatric dog in addition to Scout. We knew the rats couldn't go for obvious reasons & our dog didn't have the health to withstand the trip. (she was 16 1/2 yrs old) Fortunately our daughter was married by then and still living in AK. so they were able to live with her. Scout came with us.
What a trooper she was...there was a massive screw up when it came to shipping her over there. I was still going to be able to have her as my carry-on however the military plane we were taking over had different rules than a regular commercial flight. So the case I had so painsakingly researched and bought was not going to cut it. Aaaarrgghhh! We are standing at the airport waiting for our flight!!!! Are you kidding me? They actually had the gall to suggest that we just let her loose in Washington D.C....What? In the entire airport there was only ONE hard shell case we could buy and it was for an 8 lb animal...Scout was 13 lb...We had no alternative..so that dear cat curled up, cramped in that hard case for 12+hours !!!! Without a complaint I might add. She'd have an equally devastating trip back to the states which was close to a 30 hr. trip, with missed flights and mishandling from the airport people as they nearly passed her through the x-ray machine!.
She was my constant and usually only companion for the 2 yr. we were in Germany. My dear hubby traveled alot. Poor Scout had to listen to me confiding in her alot. Course she always held up her end of the conversation. She was a talker let me tell ya. But we totally understood each other. And she always knew when I needed her attention. She was no longer the cuddly kitten she'd been. As an adult she didn't like being held. However she'd always lay on my stomach while I was reclining or in my lap while I was sitting at the computer, rubbing my chin with her face & purring. She also sit very politely on the seat next to me while we were eating dinner..Almost like she knew the three of us had to stick together. She never got on tables or tried to get food.
These last 4 1/2 yrs. here in PA were a relief of sorts. No more traveling for her. She did however develope diabetes 8 months before her 12th birthday. We were soooo scared at the thoughts of giving her twice daily insulin shots but Stephen & I did that for a year. I remember saying to myself, "if we can get you to your 12th birthday then anything after that is just gravy". I researched & found a vet willing to work with me & I changed her diet which helped to put her into remission for just shy of 3 years.
Over the past few months I've noticed her subtle decline...she lost a little weight & some other things. This Thanksgiving, well let's just say she was far from herself. And I feared what this would mean. She was now 15 yrs and 3 mo. and the next day, after an unpleasant night I might add,we had to make a decision whether to prolong her life by means of meds, shots and possible surgeries if she could even withstand any of it.
I thought I'd prepared myself for this. I mean I was grateful for every minute of the extra 4 years we had after her diabetes diagnosis. But I still wanted more time with her, ya know?
In this past day & a half without her here just as I think I'm doing well & have gone through maybe an entire hour without crying, something else opens the floodgates. There was no one meowing at me this morning demanding food so I cried. When I reached into the fridge I saw the industrial sized parmesan cheese that I used to sprinkle on her food to entice her to eat it, so I cried. When I was putting up our holiday decorations and she wasn't underfoot trying to chew on plastic bags, the artificial tree and the ribbons...yep you guessed it, I cried.
My dear husband volunteered to go through the house meowing occassionally to make me feel better but he said he had to draw the line when it came to nibbling bags and the other decorations. LOL At least he makes me laugh.
Why am I going on and on about a cat you may wonder? Cause I have found that it's not every day that you can look into an animal's eyes and feel a special connection...one that makes you feel like you know what they're thinking or feeling. It goes far beyond the normal owner/pet relationship. I have been so very blessed to have had that with our almost 17 yr. dog Cody and I felt that with Scout.
It is cathartic for me to write about her. As if saying it out loud validates this very unique bond we shared. It's a tribute. Perhaps saying out loud how special & unique she was makes her somehow closer to me. I pray that by doing so my voice is loud enough for her to hear me in heaven where I know she must be.