Friday, October 19, 2007

Valentine, R.I.P.

"Nature red in tooth and claw," as Tennyson put it, and that's what we see shown here. Sitting on the garden table is Beckett, actually Anne's cat, about 7 years old and a glorious specimen of male felinity. He's been living with us for a year or more. Below is Valentine, an original inhabitant of our house, 16 + years, much smaller than Beckett but a tough old lady, always willing to give Beckett a run for his money and never willing to give up her territorial rights. Today she is no more.

This past Monday we had a "family meeting" at the Amsterdam hospital where the kidney transplant will take place on the 31st. Our three daughters -- Wendy, Caitlan and Anne -- were there, as was our priest, Fr. Sergei Osviannikov, and the head of the live kidney transplant team, Sylvia ter Meulen, held forth. She explained exactly what we could expect and how long the recover period might be. One thing she said was that when the transplant is over and Jim is home, he will be on non-rejection (immuno-suppressive) drugs to keep the new kidney from being rejected. This means he'll be vulnerable to all sorts of germs, viruses, etc. She also said that one thing we had to be wary of was cats.

It so happens that Valentine had suddenly started doing a lot of sneezing in recent weeks. I checked the internet and discovered that such sneezing could indicate a cat flu, which is highly contagious (to other cats) and could also affect humans. Concerned that she was spreading her nastiness all over the house, I made an appointment with the vet.

The vet said what I expected. We could put her in the local pound, where she might live for another two miserable years, but no one would take her. No one takes 16-year-old cats, and she would be very unhappy. The vet said, harsh as it sounds, the only solution is to put her down. She's lived a good 16 years and she's had a good life. I agreed. So I took her on my lap, the vet gave her a shot to put her into a deep sleep (took about 5 minutes), and then gave her another shot to stop her heart. It all happened very quickly.

The Alkmaar hospital is between the vet's office and our house, and it so happened that Jim was there for his dialysis session. I went there directly and told him Valentine was gone. He was shocked (didn't expect it) and deeply grieved. I took the photo you see of him at the same time.
So Beckett has now indeed become King of the Castle, the only cat at Kanisstraat 5. It will be strange without Valentine (and her sister Maggie, who ran away from home three months ago to die and never came back). Like all cats, she was a piece of work -- a distinct personality, tough old broad, independent and very cuddly. She was also particularly attractive to fleas (I never did successfully rid her of the happy colony living off her little person) and she was very hairy. I won't miss the fleas or the fur balls, but I'll miss Valentine jumping up on my lap every night to watch the 8 o'clock news.

1 comment:

Elaine Baskin said...

We send our sympathies. Love, Elaine & Ken