Friday, December 22, 2006

Goodby, Valentine

This was Valentine. She started life as a feral kitten, among the ones I used to feed behind where I worked. She was trapped by the landowner and taken to the pound to be killed, where I retrieved her, along with her mother and brother. The kittens were maybe 3 months old, fairly small. I had them all spayed and neutered. They were in a cage out in the shed, recovering from the operation. Something opened the cage by drawing the bolts, and killed the mother cat. Probably a raccoon. She fought long enough that the kittens had time to escape.

They were used to coming to the sound of my car to be fed, so the kittens found me at the house. After they got used to eating near the house, I caught them by opening the house door with a string on it, then closing them in. Not, in retrospect, a technique I would recommend, since the result was wild kittens loose in the house.

They weren't my first feral cats, and they were pretty young, so the technique I had worked out, of getting them in the bathroom, and going in to feed them, and letting them come out at their own speed, worked well on them. They became part of my balcony cats. The gray tabby brother got named Buddy, because he wanted to be everyone's friend. The little orange female didn't have a name until a few months later. I had opened the window early one morning, and let her into the bedroom with me. She was sitting on my lap, purring and being petted, when a voice on the radio said, "Happy Valentine's Day, in case no one has said it to you yet." And I said "Valentine! That's your name, and you already told me happy Valentine's day."

She was a happy, healthy, little kitty who loved being petted and rubbing her face on my hand. I don't remember exactly how old she was; somewhere between 5 and 8 years old, I think. She liked to sit in the sun on the porch, and play in the grass. And curl up with some of the other cats, in a purring pile.

She started losing weight a month or so ago. I lost an older cat early in the year from unknown causes that started like that. And Cheesecake, late last summer, had lost quite a bit of weight, until I started giving him canned cat food. Val and her buddies were getting a little canned food treat with dinner, to encourage them to come in from the yard when I came home, before dark. I gave her some more, and hoped that would fix it. If anything that made her worse. By last week she had gotten really skinny.

Remember for next time! Intervene before things get so far!

Not that it would have saved Valentine. The vet today said she had a carcinoma almost certainly. All we did was give her fluids, to try to get her to feel a little better, and I was just going to keep her as comfortable as I could. She was already in the warm nest under the stove that I get by taking the bottom drawer out. She was out on the balcony in the warm sun for a few minutes earlier today, a little shaky, but moving fine still. I thought I'd have her a little longer to cherish and say goodby to, and let the others say goodby to, since she wasn't contagious. But she never recovered from being taken to the vet this afternoon.

Goodby, Valentine. I love you.

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