Saturday, May 23, 2020

Farewell to Basement Cat

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

When a pet passes away, many owners feel profound sorrow. After all, it is not just an organism, but a member of the family. I am struggling to write this. The problem is compounded for us because on May 20, 2020, we had to take that awful trip to the vet and also my sister-in-law passed away. I will not discuss her for the sake of family privacy and to guard against trolling.


An emotional tribute to Basement Cat and some discussion on the problem of suffering in the world.
One of my best pictures of her was impulsive and is actually in color and unmodified.
She was giving me that loving look that touched my heart so often.

Looking and Remembering

When she was small, we would play Furry Slipper. She would latch onto my foot with claws and teeth, then I could sweep the bare floor. That stopped when her play became too enthusiastic and a bite gave me pasteurella. I also see the big stuffed animal that my wife got her for Christmas one year and how she would smurgle and make with the boomerang ears.

Walking through the apartment, I stop and picture where she used to be. Sleeping under the table and using a lower rung as a pillow. Laying on her back in the living room as a sign of trust and affection. Snoring on my wife's bed, other times looking at me like I was fascinating.


She took over the recliner and would give a look as if to say, "Mine. Get your own." Cats do that. Picturing her using the food bowls on the kitchen floor and the filtered water fountain. Sitting next to me on the couch while I did my Bible reading and petting her with one hand (which I did on her last day). Purring loudly with her mouth open. Hissing and swatting at the vacuum before making a dignified retreat. Some people would say that I am giving human characteristics to an animal here, but the cat would give us loving looks that we found so very touching.

Something black on the floor that I catch out of the corner of my eye and turn to look out of habit. Shoes. I gotta cut this out before I cause myself to have hallucinations.

A Unique Cat

Most pet owners probably think their critter is something special, and they are probably right. You can see individuality in animals of many kinds. This was a smart cat and had a great deal of personality. Basement Cat is not the name she was originally given. I did not like failed rapper name she was given, Payshintz, and picked up on the internet mythology of Basement Cat. (It was unfair to portray black cats as evil, but many images were funny. I made a few myself.) She responded to other things she was called.

You're "supposed" to do a high-pitched sweetness voice, but I would say, "C'mere, cat" and she would pay attention. Felines are not famous for coming when you call, but she often did so. Other things she was called included Kitty, PayPay, Love Nugget, Belinda Boxdigger (for flinging litter), Gramma's Gurl, Baby, Hiss Machine, and others (but we didn't try to get her to respond to most). Basement Cat knew other words, such as food, treat, and water bowl.



She was a domestic longhair, and that hair regularly became troubling to her. We could see her become lethargic and actually seemed depressed. After the haircut, it was like we had the old cat back. Another word she knew was haircut, and we had to avoid it when the appointment was near. We had to be creative and even sneaky to put her in the carrier for the trip. She didn't make the association with feeling better the haircut. Indeed, it was a noisy ride: let me sing you the song of my people.

When cats lay on their backs, it can be a warning of a problem, but it is usually a sign of contentment and trust. Not only that, but we could rub her throat and under her chin, which is another sign of trust. I could even stand there and "foot pet" her in my stocking feet (making sure to hang onto something so my weight didn't shift). We had many signs from her of not only affection, but of trust.

She was proud of her tail and used it for expression. Like many cats, she would swish it back and forth when agitated. We had a couple of games with the tail. It would look like I was stepping on her tail, but my weight was on my heel and there was a gap. Not only would she bump her tail up and down between my foot and the floor, but if she moved out from under my foot, she would move the tail back again. Other times, the tail was waved in acknowledgement when I would say "kitty", "cat", and so on. We would repeat saying a name or title and for a while to watch her respond with a tail twitch or wave.

Diabetic

Having a pet is also taking on some responsibilities. We must care for them (Prov. 12:20) even when they are old and have infirmities. Basement Cat was becoming frequently sick with diarrhea and vomiting. She never seemed completely well in her adult years (I even made a birthday video a few years ago because I didn't know how long we would have her), so we thought these symptoms were a phase. Nope. The vet determined that she was diabetic. This meant that we had to give her insulin injections twice a day and buy rather expensive diabetic cat food. This stabilized her for a while.

First Major Illness

Thanksgiving was a thrill for her and she just loved to have turkey with us. Privileged Puss was a social animal, needing to eat with us.


In her younger years, she would even jump up on the dining room chair and inspect the food on the table. But that thanksgiving in 2017, she was less enthusiastic and slept more than usual. One night, I petted her and she was burning up with fever. An expensive trip to the emergency pet clinic ensued, followed by more vet visits. You can read more about this time, her recovery, and a link to a creation science article over at "How We Get Our Fabulous Feline Friends". Something I only told a few people, but I want to now: this cat was an inheritance of sorts that came to us when my wife's daughter died at age twenty seven. That connection between mother and daughter (as well as my own fondness for the cat) is another reason I was unwilling to give up easily. However, we always knew that she would have to go sometime.


Second Major Illness

Basement Cat had been coughing off and on for a year or more, and one vet dismissed it as dry air. It may have been the case at the time, but in May 2020 it became worse. Her breathing was also labored. We took her to the vet, had x-rays taken, and had to give antibiotics. She got worse. At this point, her breathing was even more labored, she was breathing with her mouth open, and not eating. Another visit and a stronger antibiotic. 

On May 20, my wife and I agreed that she was suffering. I don't think she slept the last two days. Seeing all this had me in tears and in agonized prayer. The illness in 2017, it just felt wrong for her to go, and I believe that there was a miracle as well as with the medical science so we could have her with us another couple of years. This time, somehow I knew there would be no healing. I called and made the arrangement, then later got word that my wife's sister had passed away.

Nagging Doubts and then Confirmation

We wanted to know if we were being hasty. Would the cat recover again? Although we were reasonably certain, we wanted Dr. Cody to give one more look at her. She agreed that there was too much suffering, especially with the breathing. When it was all over, I said that she could open up the cat to investigate and in the interest of veterinary medical science. 

Oh, boy! Not only was there a golf ball-sized tumor in a lung, but there was fluid in the lungs that indicated a heart problem. If the fluid had been drained off through an invasive method, it would have only put off the problem for a little while. Yes, definitely, it was right that we ended it.

I was allowed to be there for her to have that final injection (the end came very quickly), and had my hand on her. She was probably unaware of this, but I promise you that she knew my wife and I loved her. She loved us as well, and the heck with naturalistic views that animals only act out of functions or have no feelings.

Do Not Feel Guilty for Feeling Some Relief

This is an area that we have to deal with, not only with pets but also people. My wife and I have lost our parents, and her sister was suffering from an aggressive cancer. It is not a crime or a sin to feel relief — not only for them, but for ourselves. No more visits to nursing homes hoping we will be recognized as loved ones deteriorate, no more vet visits and financial expenditures, and so on. As Christians, we need to focus on the glory of God and be thankful for the time he has given us with those we have loved and have loved us.


Death and Suffering

Believers and unbelievers alike struggle with the question of why we deal with death and suffering if God created everything very good. From a biblical creation perspective, sin entered the world and death for humans and animals came with it (Gen. 3:17-19, Rom. 8:19-22, Rom. 5:12-21). Evolution and atheistic naturalism do not have the necessary preconditions of dealing with life, and only the biblical worldview has coherent answers. The subject of death and suffering has been dealt with many times, so I don't feel the need to "reinvent the wheel". However, there are some articles that I would like to suggest, and if you follow the links to those sites, you can also search them for more information:
Y'all may have cognated that this has been a very difficult article to write. It needed to be written, not only for me, but I hope that it may be useful to others. Also, my own days are numbered. So are yours. Not only do I have certain health issues, but I'm advancing in years. Eventually, the Trailmaster will say, "You're done there, Cowboy. Time to mount up and ride with me". I'm confident about my eternal destination, and think mayhaps that some of my furry friends will cross that Rainbow Bridge with me. If you're not absolutely certain of where you will go when your time comes, I implore you to make certain. Do it now.

Here is a video I put together of Basement Cat. The first part where I am playing with her is rather loud. Unfortunately, if you want to hear her purring in the second part, you'll need to turn up the volume a mite:


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