Loss

Author: fraise

Friday 18 July 2008, in Cats, Journal

Malo, June 2007

Malo is very sorely missed. I keep thinking he’ll hop through the window he dashed out of — the only window with street access, in my bathroom, that didn’t close properly and that he’d surreptitiously learned how to paw open — and I’ll hear his paws tip-tapping towards me with his inquisitive “purr-meow?”. I keep thinking he’ll walk up behind me unheard, and hop onto my lap, knead my legs while I grimace and say “ow” until he’s content with the seating arrangement, then sprawl out with paws askew and head on a knee. Always facing towards the window.

I chose my new apartment in large part because it was so safe for Malo. The terrace is fully enclosed; I never thought he’d get out the high, narrow bathroom window. When I saw him do it the first time two weeks ago, I made a mental note to get wire fencing to cover it. I hadn’t yet found the right kind. And two weeks was long enough…

I don’t know where he died; it must have been far from my place. He hadn’t returned on Wednesday evening. I panicked, calmed myself by thinking he’d probably just gone on a walkabout and hadn’t found his way back yet, so went out and scoured as big a circumference as I could in two hours. I looked everywhere, even under cars, knowing I might not find him alive. But I didn’t see him anywhere, and he never came to my calls. I never heard his familiar meow.

I realized I hadn’t yet changed his ID tattoo registration address, so filled in the card and put it in the mailbox. That was how la fourrière, the pound, found me the next afternoon, yesterday. (The French postal service can be very fast.)

I’m very thankful they actually found his body, and that they took care of it. The man who phoned was wonderful; he actually started sobbing when I burst into tears. I’ll never forget how sincere his uncontrolled reply of “oh no don’t, it’s horrible” was after I asked if I could come see Malo’s body. I choked on an “oh…”. He heaved a huge sigh, sobbed and apologized again, but I thanked him for his honesty. Goodness knows he has a rough job. He said they would dispose of Malo’s body carefully, as they do all animals — it was good to hear all animals are treated with respect.

I miss my kitty. I wish he’d just held on another week; the time for me to find the right wire and put it up. I always knew I’d lose him someday — I’ve lost Pete, a black and white cocker spaniel who saved my life by leading me to safety when I wandered off and got lost in nearby forests at age two; Josh, a black cocker spaniel; Rosie, a dearly sweet, always-cheery Golden Retriever who would drag around a two-kilo block of wood, spurning all other toys except tennis balls, and head-butt me in the thigh affectionately; and Morris, an adopted orange tabby furball who learned how to meow my name and lived to the ripe old age of 21. I knew I would lose Malo, but I’d always hoped he would be safe at the end, in my arms, knowing he was loved. The hardest for me is thinking that he died alone, with no one to comfort him. (But I am so very glad that the pound was sensitive and caring. It helps.)

I’ve found this Pet Loss Support Page to be helpful (if anyone knows others, do please share).

15 responses to “Loss”

  1. Bouks Says:

    My mother is a very loving pet owner, who gives heaps of love and care to her pets. So much so that all her friends have told her, “When I die, I want to be reborn as your pet!” I think you are the same kind of pet owner as she is.

    Please take good care of yourself during this time. I used to take antidepressants until I discovered that liquid vitamin B fought depression much more effectively. It wouldn’t hurt for you to try it, to safeguard yourself against a long-term slump. I can literally feel my mood lifting when I take it.

    Our last pet was an outdoor cat, and she died we think because of something poisonous she got into (three years ago, and she was only three years old). She was very ill at the end. We felt guilty – was it something out in the shed that we didn’t cover properly? We’ll never know. The Pet Loss Support Page is right, though, it isn’t helpful to feel guilty.

    Take care and stay strong.

  2. fraise Says:

    Great suggestion for vitamin B, thanks, there’s definitely some at the little “bio” grocery shop I go to, so I’ll get some and try it. I can hardly believe how devastated I am, I can barely function (my employers are great and let me have the day off). Malo helped keep me focused on life and joy, both came so easily to him. When I was sad he would hop on my lap, nuzzle and kiss my cheeks while purring. Now he’s gone, I’m terribly sad, and there’s no sweetheart to put a paw on my cheek (which he’d also do, I sometimes wonder if he was consciously imitating how I petted him) and purr.

    That’s so sad about the little kitty! It is hard, we always want to protect them.

  3. Zuleme Says:

    It is really really impossibly hard when you lose one. I am still devastated at the thought of Fergus, who was my soul kitty, and then the image of Silas waiting for his buddy to come home. And then we lost Silas four months later on the road. That was when I got my cat fence.
    If you love animals you know they will break your heart and you have to accept it or turn away from them.There is no way around it. Hang in there, I know how rough it is. You just got to get up every day and keep going through the pain.
    Somewhere I read that grief is like the waves of the sea. At first they come fast and high and as time passes they come slower and calmer. But it takes time.
    Hang in there.

  4. Mar Says:

    I’m sure Malo loved and enjoyed his life to the fullest and that he had a home with you…. That’s why so many people come here to read about your stories… everybody knows how you two were accomplices in all the changes going through your life and his. Don’t think about him alone outside. Think about the thrill he had observing a bit more of the city that captivated you… The same way you write about little surprises and interesting discoveries you do in town every week, maybe Malo discovered interesting things during his visit out.. a new type of insect he never chased before, a new flower he didn’t like the taste, a new smell, etc. He was never alone, he always had you… try to keep the good moments in mind… I learned that helps.

  5. fraise Says:

    Thanks again, Bouks and Zuleme and Mar. My stomach groaned this morning and by chance it sounded just like one of Malo’s contented groans when he’d stretch. I woke up and smiled, after so many years of hearing him groan and stretch by my side in the mornings I thought he was there… then of course I realized I’d never hear him groan again… Talk about an awful trick for my stomach to play. Reading your thoughtful words helped immensely.

    (Zuleme, I love reading Caturday. It’s really neat.)

    Mar, believe it or not, you’re absolutely right about Malo discovering something. I was looking at the damned window from the exterior today; there’s always a scooter chained to it. I crouched down and messed with the broken shutters again, to reassure myself they were indeed broken and wouldn’t close (yes, I still feel guilty). You know what was behind the shutter by the window? A lizard.

    That night Malo had been meowing like crazy in the bathroom, with his “I’ve discovered something oh so interesting! I can’t leave it though or it will get away! Come see, come see, come see!” It being four in the morning, I didn’t get out of bed, and told him to leave me alone. He meowed and meowed and meowed — it was a happy meow, he wasn’t hurt — and then I heard scuffling by the window, realized he’d gotten it open, and then I never saw Malo again. Maybe he chased after the lizard and was so delighted with his find that he got lost without realizing it. I wondered why he’d meowed so much, until seeing that lizard. He loved chasing lizards.

  6. Mar Says:

    Wow… he found a lizard! I think after catnip, lizards are the next in the list of interest! Now that you told this, it reminds me of my cat Clio… At my parents last year she saw this lizard in the window. The glass was closed and the lizard outside. She tried and tried to get the lizard… her paws would pass through it on the glass but she couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t touch the creature… she was so puzzled. And plants come in third I would say… I don’t know about Malo but it was very hard to have colorful flowers around here because Clio always made them as some type of amuse-bouche…

  7. Lesley Says:

    So sorry to hear about Malo – he really did seem to be a prince among cats.

  8. fraise Says:

    Mar, so funny — don’t know if you’ve seen either of these already, they came to mind immediately when I read your comment:
    http://flickr.com/photos/fraise/495946406/
    http://flickr.com/photos/fraise/527984331/

  9. Mar Says:

    :-D Exactly! I always wondere how you managed your balcony plants! Now I see your plants also didn’t escape… Clio would know when Christmas arrived by her “new gift” in the living room – it didn’t matter if it was a real or a fake little tree… she would try her best to make it her dessert! You got a nice shot of Malo’s attempts there! Which camera do you have? I need to update mine and yours always have great zoom… I see from your plant shots… really nice.

    Well, have a better week and count on your friends around (and online)…

  10. fraise Says:

    My camera is a Nikon D40, and yes it is *wonderful*. All my shots are taken with the lens that comes with the camera! (Just a few exceptions — I have some older manual lenses, but all photos taken with them are labeled.) I think the D40 has a slightly different model name now (they upgraded it a bit). I shopped around for years — literally — before getting a digital reflex and couldn’t be happier, especially at its price.

  11. Heather W. Says:

    I was hoping I’d misread something when I started to read your post. I’m so terribly sorry to hear about Malo. I loved seeing your pictures of him and reading about his adventures about the house and garden and his companionship through thick and thin.

    My two cats are my children and my heart goes out to you with his tragic loss. Just know that there are people thinking of you and sending good thoughts and kitty love.

  12. Mar Says:

    Thanks for the info and the link! I’ll check it out.

  13. Barry Says:

    Stupid internet. Some lady I’ve never met, never even spoken to, loses a cat I never met and here I am crying.

  14. Mr ship-in-the-night Says:

    Life is death and death is life.
    As a regular reader I want to offer you my sincere condolences on the loss of your cat. Now I’m going to kiss my dog…

  15. fraise Says:

    Barry :) That’s kind of how I feel too, on the other end of course — I’ve been touched, truly and sincerely, by the responses here. I do “know” some of you in a sense, but I’ve never met or spoken to any of you in real life, and yet your stories and thoughts have meant so much to me.

    By all means, kiss dogs and cats and hamsters and ferrets and, and, and… :) in Malo’s memory. Though I have a new kitten as of two hours ago (and what a sweet surprise she was!), Malo holds a very special place in my heart and will always be missed. (I’m sure animal lovers can relate! They’re all unique.)

Leave a comment