Friday, February 17, 2012

Goodbye, Green Eyes (1993-2012)

In her favorite place. 

The day I've dreaded for years arrived on Valentine's Day. We said goodbye to our sweet lap cat (let's call her Green Eyes), who's been with me since I was 23 and in my second semester of grad school (she was 18.5) Her kidneys had been failing over the last year or so and on Tuesday I decided to take her to the vet. She had pretty much stopped eating and was just fur and bones. We said some goodbyes before the vet took her in back (just to put a catheter in). When she brought her back, she was already unconscious- even before any meds were administered. They put her across my lap (on her favorite blanket- which is in this picture) and we (D was there with me) stroked her fur while the doctor gave her the meds. She was gone immediately. They gave us a lock of her fur (she had the softest fur I've even felt on a cat) to keep and we'll get her ashes back later on.

Since Green Eyes was an only cat, it's been especially difficult to adjust to her absence and I've just been getting by this week. I went in for some essential meetings this morning then came home to rest (missing some other meetings). My stomach has been bothering me, too. I don't want to write about all this sadness, though. I want to write about the years I spent with Green Eyes and think about happy memories of her.

My Life with Green Eyes
I had a bad roommate situation during my first semester of grad school. I had moved in with a former college roommate who happened to be moving to Commuter Party School town at the same time. Things didn't go well, so I started looking at campus housing boards for new roommates. I don't even remember if I got in touch with any others, but in January 1994 I went to visit with some potential roommates at their  apartment. I saw a bunch of canned cat food in the kitchen and excitedly asked "Oh, is there a kitty?!". It turns out that there were two cats- strays that they fed out on the back patio. One of those cats was Green Eyes. 

When I moved in, I found out that Green Eyes had been left behind some other college students in the complex (they couldn't find her the day they were moving or something). They'd had her as a kitten and were a little rough with her- she never did learn to play with her claws in! We continued feeding the cats outside (and the occasional skunk and opossum that showed up) until Green Eyes became pregnant (she had never been spayed). She had six kittens (in one of my roommates bedrooms on her birthday- April 1994) and we kept them until they were old enough to wean. I remember them all ganging up on Green Eyes and knocking her over the eat- poor mom! After we gave them away (I wished later on that we'd kept one of them!) we had Green Eyes spayed and she continued to live with us- inside more than she used to. 

A year later (1995), one of my roommates (let's call her Alice) and I moved out to Beach Town and took Green Eyes with us. That is when she really became more of a pet. She still went outside- we left a window open wide enough for her to get in and out- which led to some interesting things showing up in our apartment: half a dead mouse, a live bird, a hotdog- the neighbor's cat! She used to come and jump up on the hood of my car when I got home from class and meow at me through the windshield. Oh, I guess I hadn't mentioned that she was a very talkative cat. When she was still an outside-only cat at the first apartment, she would jump up and hang from my bedroom window screen (I was on the ground floor) and meow into my room at night! Crazy kitty. She was very playful in those days- we used to throw toys for her back into the living room when we were trying to go to bed at night. Otherwise, Green Eyes would run after us and attack our legs- one time she even jumped up and bit Alice's butt! She also batted a butter biscuit out of Alice's hand one time because she wanted to eat it. 

We lived in that apartment for two years (until 1997)- when I was getting ready to move to Pac-10 U City for PhD and my roommate was getting to move abroad for a year. I was excited that I got to take Green Eyes with me! I had had TWO other cats in college who went with other roommates, so I was happy that I got to keep this one. We drove to Pac-10 U in my car and she meowed the whole way (just one day, thankfully). Poor cat. Green Eyes got to experience thunderstorms for the first time in Pac-10 U City (she was NOT impressed!) and stayed inside most of the time. I was in a big apartment complex, so I didn't feel comfortable letting her come and go. I would let her outside into my small yard when I was home, but mostly she stayed in. One specific memory I have from that apartment is Green Eyes running up and grabbing onto my legs when I was leaning over the bathroom sink- then running off again- it always scared the crap out of me! 

We moved to another apartment the next year (a townhouse which was MUCH quieter!). Green Eyes had a small yard to run around in when I was at home. Her favorite pastime there was to go outside and roll around in the dusty dirt and come back inside all dirty. I have a picture of her covered in dust that I had framed for my brother because he thought it was so funny (he had also moved to Pac-10 U City a year after I did).  It was early 1999 that I started dating H, got pregnant, and all the other upheavals of that year. Green Eyes was with me through it all.  We moved to another place that spring, since I thought I was going to stay in Pac-10 U City for the whole year- I ended up moving to join H in Bible Belt at Christmas instead.  When we started buying baby things, Green Eyes enjoyed trying them out- they were just her size! I remember finding her in the stroller one time.  

During my grad school years, lots of my friends knew Green Eyes. We all cat sat for each other- and I had one friend without pets who would come over to take care of her if we were out of town- we even split up days- one friend would come for a few days, then another for a few days, etc.  They would write these hilarious notes that were supposed to be from Green Eyes about what she did while I was gone. 

In early January 2000, H (who had come home over Xmas), baby D (almost 3 months old), Green Eyes (lightly sedated in her sherpa bag), and I got on a plane for Bible Belt state. We must have been a sight- carrying a baby in a car seat and a cat in a carry-on bag. Green Eyes was actually okay on the flight- she seemed less distressed than being the car- when it was smooth she probably didn't feel like she was moving. We stayed in Bible Belt state for 2.5 more years- until we moved here to Small College Town. Green Eyes was there with us while D was a baby and toddler- we never had any problems were her scratching D- I was also careful to keep them apart and/or supervised, too. Green Eyes even got a little tubby during those years. She didn't go outside any more and maybe I overfed her, but she was fine.

When we moved to Small College Town U in 2002, Green Eyes rode in her sherpa bag below D's feet in the backseat (D was still in a car seat or booster then). It was only a few hours and she survived the journey. We were only in that house for a year before buying this one, so her final house move was in 2003 when we moved to our current house.  She lived her last almost 9 years in this house. I stopped letting her outside when we moved to Bible Belt state, and she was getting a little older so she didn't seem to mind. 

We have a two story house with just the kitchen, living room, and half bath on the main floor. Green Eyes spent 99% of her time there. She was never much for sleeping with me (or us), and she never really wanted to come upstairs. Years after moving in, she would come up to our home office if she knew that I was only one home- or it was very early and I was the only one up. Mostly, she stayed downstairs- her litter box was in the downstairs bathroom, her food in the kitchen, and her bed and/or cat condo in the living room. Anytime you sat on the couch, she was ready to get into your lap and purr. Especially in her later years, she became even more affectionate.  

I miss her terribly ...when I come down in the morning and she isn't there with her little green eyes peeking out of her bed, or to meow a hello to me. ...when I sit on the couch and she isn't there to get into my lap or sit next to me on the couch. ...when she doesn't follow me into kitchen to see if there is something good to eat. I don't know how I'll ever get used to life without her. Writing this helps- we shared such a long time together- it's amazing to think how much my life has changed since I first met her. I was a single, partying, 23-year-old, naive grad student- now I've been a college professor for almost ten years, I'm 41, happily married with a 12-year-old daughter- who grew up with Green Eyes. I feel lucky to have shared these years with such a sweet, funny, special cat. I'm sure this post doesn't do her justice, but I really wanted to share her story.


Samantha said...

Longtime lurker here--I lost my cat who looked a lot like Green Eyes back in December. It's hard; I miss him still and probably always will. So sorry for your loss.

Seeking Solace said...

What a great story. She sounds like an awesome kitty. She is no doubt hanging out at Rainbow Bridge.

Hugs. I know how hard this is. I still miss the Boy!

Addy N. said...

Samantha: Thanks. I'm sorry for your loss, too.
Seeking Solace: Thanks. I'm sure you still miss The Boy! :(

Arbitrista said...

This has been a tough few months for our old kitties. My sympathies.

TiredProf said...

I'm so sorry. She had a great life with you, though--what wonderful memories.

JaneB said...

What a lovely story. It's so hard to lose a furry family member - I still sometimes look for my Hairball in her favourite place even though it's nearly 3 years since she had to be put down and Furball has lived here most of that time. A house without a cat is an empty place,isn;t it? Much sympathy!

comebacknikki said...

Awww, she sounds like a kitty I would like -- I'm not a huge cat fan, but I do love the awesome ones.

I'm so sorry for your loss. {{{Addy}}}

Addy N. said...

Thanks so much, everyone. I started feeling better yesterday afternoon- and that continued until this morning- even while vacuuming out Green Eyes' favorite corner of the living room. But now I'm feeling a bit low again. I just miss her, but know I will get used to it (eventually).

Bacteria Girl said...

I'm so sad about the loss of your cat. I have 3 kitties that I have acquired over the course of my PhD and I just can't imagine being without any of them. I'm sure Green Eyes appreciated her time with you as much as you did. Maybe one day you will be able to love another cat and make new memories with them.

Addy N. said...

Thanks, Bacteria Girl (love the name!). It has been comforting to realize that others understand how I loved that cat. It's almost like saying goodbye to an era of my life, too. Green Eyes was there when I used to go see bands and go out drinking with friends- all my single grad school days, so finally losing her is kind of like admitting that I'm really in my 40s now. I miss her. <3

Karen said...

We lost our dog in January and know exactly how you feel. She was the sweetest dog ever and was a fairly big lab mix who thought she was still a lap puppy and spent most of her evenings either sitting on my lap or in front of the fire.

We both still miss her terribly and are having a difficult time filling all the time we used to spend on her.

It sounds as if Green Eyes had a great life with you and hopefully that can be some comfort.

Karen said...

We lost our dog in January and know exactly how you feel. She was the sweetest dog ever and was a fairly big lab mix who thought she was still a lap puppy and spent most of her evenings either sitting on my lap or in front of the fire.

We both still miss her terribly and are having a difficult time filling all the time we used to spend on her.

It sounds as if Green Eyes had a great life with you and hopefully that can be some comfort.