This is the last picture I took of Maddie, well before I knew it would be the last picture I took of Maddie.
First of all, I'd like to say Thank You to everyone who left their condolences. I can not express how deeply grateful LayRanger and I are for your kind words and thoughts over our loss. I wrote once, on the occasion of the death of Laurence Simon's cat Piper, that connection and fellow-feeling amongst those of us who cat-blog were one of the hallmarks of this community. I feel it even more strongly today. I plan to show my thanks over the next several months, by featuring and linking those bloggers who took time out of their day to empathize and lighten the load a bit. It's not much, but it's what I can do.
Secondly, I think I owe you all an explanation. The announcement of Maddie's death was unexpected, I know, and abrupt. The only excuse I have is that it was that way for us, as well. There's backstory to this explanation, so feel free to skip it if you don't need to know.
The last 6-8 weeks have been quite turbulent and abnormal at ChezRanger. LadyRanger got word that her mom had broken her hip. After a stay in a rehab facility, she'd been moved back home. LadyRanger went up to the Winter Palace to help her folks cope, learn new logistics and do P.T. with her mom. She was up there for 2 weeks and Maddie and I were living the bachelor life here. I noticed that Maddie was spending a bit more time in her carrier, and that she was not eating as much as normal. As she was still eating her treats, and eating her kibble from my hand (which I will forever miss) and still seemed energetic, I put it down to a temperamental reaction to LadyRanger not being in residence. Maddie's always been a bit high-strung and has had this sort of reaction to changes in the environment before.
Once I went up to get LR, I figured that all would sort itself out and Maddie would return to normal. Upon our return, it became obvious that Maddie had eaten none of her food and had had little water. We agreed to get her into the vet asap. We thought it might be a tooth that was causing the problems, as that had happened before. The vet took a look on the 6th. It was a Squamous Cell Cancer in the mouth and throat. Maddie could no longer eat or drink without great pain. The cancer was advanced and treatment would have, at it's least, required removing her jaw. Dr L. did say that even if we'd caught it earlier, there is little that can be done in cases like this.
We were, I don't know...stunned, horrified, stricken...??? I can't really come up with the words.
We made the decision, an easy one, really, to not ask Maddie to suffer anymore for us. She came home from the exam and rested in her carrier. LadyRanger called me at school to give me the news. I got home as soon as I could that day. Maddie was sitting by the front door waiting for me to come home. We sat and I gave her the brushies that she asked for until it was time to go.
We took her to the vet late that afternoon. Drugged as she was, she still growled at him, defiant to the last. It's like they said about Teddy Roosevelt "Death had to take Roosevelt in his sleep. If he'd come while he was awake, there would have been a fight."
When death finally did come, I believe it was swift and gentle.
It's funny. I don't mind seeing her pictures as they flash by on my computer. I haven't thought I've seen her about the house, as I did when Ivy died. What gets to me is the places where Maddie is not. Her spots on the bed or the blanket stack are now empty. No one taps my head in the wee hours of the morning, to get me to turn over and give her pats. The sunpuddles have no cat in them, which is a shocking change from the last last 13.5 years.
I did have a dream about her a few nights ago. I was sitting in the middle of our bed, which in our urban house is never truly dark. Maddie walked in, hopped on the bed and simply walked around me once, then hopped down and walked away. I got to stroke her one last time, from nose to tail as she walked by.
There will be more posting on this blog. Like I said, it'll be my way to say thank you to a community who has supported me and appreciated my cats.
There are no more cats at StrangeRanger.
I'm sure that, in time, there will be, and we will learn to speak a new dialect of feline, but it will be a while. Be assured that when that time comes, I'll blog about it, for whatever that is worth.
For now, I just want to sleep until I'm not sad anymore.