It had been 4 days since her son had passed, and as many that she had not eaten. During their whole time together there had been only one day of seperation. It was humbling to witness the result of her broken heart, she lay on her side, legs extended, breathing barely noticeable, empty eyes fixed on nothing. No reaction when I called out to her, what was she thinking, where was her mind. Knee deep in her precious memories no doubt, soaking in days gone by, the only place where she could still be with her beloved boy. I brought his smell to her in hopes it would trigger something, anything, and though I did see her nose move the tiniest bit her eyelids only closed in pain and I drew it away. Her emotional suffering in its hugeness the only life sign she gave us, had now manifested to her physical.
‘Inconsolable’ came the message loud and clear.
“Other than a slightly elevated Thyroid Gland, we’ve found nothing in her bloodtests or x-rays to indicate a physical reason for her current state,” said the Veterinarian. “No, no I didn’t think you would” I replied, “She’s in mourning, I know that’s what it is.” She looked skeptical mentioning more tests were needed and would I authorize them.
It was day 9 and still she would not eat, the IV’s were keeping her alive, but how much longer before her will to live disappeared forever? Every day I arrived to spend with her seemed worse than the day before, no amount of coaxing, no words, not music, nor the softest of touch, or the sunshine I made sure would pour down on her body as it made its way across her cage, none of it gave me the slightest reason to believe, she wanted help or needed it. Was she lost to us forever, what about we who still loved and needed her?
She was drenched in hoplessness and it was scaring all who witnessed it.
We humans and our ego’s seem to think we corner the market on everything..certainly on all things emotional since it’s what defines and seperates us from most if not all other species (or so we think). So when we are privy to another kind suffering it comes as almost a shock and surprise.
The mother whose grief surpassed expectation is a 14 year old Tortoise Shell cat. Her name is ZuZu and she lost her son Woody of 12 years 3 weeks ago. We are not positive but we suspect the recent Pet Food recall and food tainting had something to do with his death as it seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course until more truth comes out, if it ever does that is..we may remain in the dark.
ZuZu did decide to come back to us, on the 10th day I took her home for a trial run to see if being there might stimualte her. Nothing at the vet’s was working, she belongs to a friend of mine who could not pill her or force feed her so I agreed to help. On her second to last day at the vet’s I took her out of the cage and laid her on the floor coaxing her to move. She tried to stand, but couldn’t for very long, she was that weak. Still she did try.
We didn’t force feed her for 24 hours thinking it might stimulate her natural hunger but it didn’t. So I force fed her for another 2 days, although ‘force’ is over stating it as she just lay there and allowed me to do it. She was moving around on her own but very slowly..no jumping up on the couch or any such thing, she was still way too weak. At the end of day 3 I got a call from David telling me she’d just started to groom herself..a first since this whole thing started. As we were celebrating over the phone she moved on to her hard food bowl and ate only a few pieces on her own for the first time. It’s been a slow but successful and very happy recovery.
She taught me alot that little cat did, I’d heard animals grieved and being a huge animal lover myself, always believed they would, and why not. However the extent to which she did threw me. Though I was but an onlooker she showed me life is a choice, every day we choose to live it, she taught me the depth of love touches every living thing, just because we might not share the same genes does not mean they are less than we are, on the contrary, sometimes I think they see and hear things we have no clue exists. She showed me that she was capable of loving past her own pain and grief, unselfish, she choose to stay with David and continues to love him unconditionally.
They are angels on earth animals are.
In hindsight I wished I’d taped the whole thing to share or if nothing else to show those who think animals are nothing more than an inconvenience, that they are far more than that.
ZuZu with 2 of her 3 litter Kittens, Woody is not in this picture. She was an amazing mother to them all.
In closing I leave you with a favorite quote:
“The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
~Henry Beston~The Outermost House, 1928
Woody is the Orange Tabby on the right. Here he is with casper, one of my cats, they were great friends. He is sorely missed.