RIP Shakira Kitty

If you’re not an animal person, don’t even bother with this post because I am about to get maudlin over a 14-month-old cat. If you don’t want to read about my cat, which most of you never knew, then come back again another day because today I am going to talk about Shakira. I promise not to hold it against you.

Shakira The Cat is gone.

She died maybe 30 minutes ago. I knew today was the day when I woke up and came out to check on her. I actually knew yesterday afternoon, but that will come later. I have not yet determined what exactly I am going to do with her body; I know I am not going to toss her in the dumpster, and I am pretty certain there are no animal cemeteries or crematoriums in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. More than likely, I will take her out to the desert this evening and bury her.

Shakira came to me by virtue of another man leaving Saudi. He had rescued her from the streets in front of his apartment building as nothing more than a little orange, brown, and white fur ball. She was just a few weeks old. Unfortunately, the position didn’t work out well for him, and he was leaving on the Saturday after I got here on the previous Sunday. He was trying to find someone to take her, else he’d have to put her back out on the street. Being the hard-hearted animal hater that I am, and only days separated from my family and a whole pack of critters back at my real home, I allowed him to prevail upon me to take her.

She proved to be a force of nature. When she got wound up, she’d race through this apartment as if someone had set her tail on fire – literally bouncing off the walls and back of the two couches in the living room. Shakira had a wicked sense of humor (yeah, I know, I shouldn’t antrhopromorphize, but you literalists can all go pound sand today). One of my friends over here comes over and watches Science Fiction shows my wife sends periodically, and she loved to come up and tap him with her paw, practically begging him to reach down and pet her. He (who has one of the sweetest cats on the planet) would dutifully reach down to stroke her, and she’d hiss at him as if his hand was a snake. Then, she’d come do it again, and she could keep it up until he got fed up with it. I saw that scenario play out at least twice a month over the last year.

Our bathrooms and kitchens have the fold-down type dormer windows that you see in older school buildings, and I usually keep them open to help keep the apartment from taking on bad odors due to encasement and constant air conditioning. The bathroom window was her favorite place. She’d leap into the bathroom sink, then pull her long body into the window, lying between the open window and the screen – soaking in a little sunshine, getting a bit of fresh air, and chatting it up with the hoodlum kitties that frequent the breezeway between the apartment buildings. She spent hours there, all times of day and night.

Now, everyone knew of her as the Hell Spawn Cat, a tag I think she wore with great pleasure. I knew a different side of her, though. I knew that tender kitty that would jump up in my lap, balance herself on my leg as she reached up to my shoulder with her front paws, and lay pressed against my chest while I stroked her and she purred as loudly as a humming refrigerator with a motor about to go out. At night, when I would go to bed, Shakira would do her crazy kitty routine, running through the house, usually spending several minutes perched on the cat tree I had placed next to the bedroom window for her before she’d finally leap onto the bed and settle down for a few hours of snoozing. That was the nightly routine. Every night. Every night until last Monday night.

I came back to the apartment last Monday night completely wiped out and exhausted. Work is pretty stressful right, now, and I am putting in between 50 and 60 hours each week over seven days. I should have realized something was amiss when I opened the door to the apartment, and I didn’t hear her grunting meow as she leapt from the bathroom sink and raced out to greet me. She was standing in the utility room just staring at me. But, she moved normally, and nothing seemed out of place. I petted her and did a few things as I prepared to take a nap. She jumped up on the couch and settled in for what I figured was a nap for her.

I slept for about an hour. When I got up, she was wandering to the bedroom, and I walked into the living room. Two dark, irregularly shaped wet spots stained the couch where she had been laying. I was bit ticked, and asked her aloud, “Have you started peeing on the furniture? What the hell did I do to tick you off?” But, I went over to investigate, and when I sniffed the spots, they didn’t smell like cat urine. Anyone who has cats knows what cat urine smells like, especially if an angry kitty has decided to punish their keeper. This was not urine, and I was puzzled.

Right as I was about to turn around to find her, I heard her retching back toward the bedroom. Sure enough, she had vomited in the utility room. I knew I had a sick cat on my hands. I petted her, cleaned up the mess, petted her again, and she slowly ambled off. Like most sick animals, she went to her den (the dark place between the couch and the wall) to weather out her stomach problems, venturing forth ever so often. She threw up two more times that night, once while my television buddy was there. We both figured she’d gotten into the trash or something and eaten something bad. Normal cat behavior. She’d be better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t. She continued to vomit, growing weaker each day. I was a little shell-shocked because when the critters got sick, they got better – just as humans do. If they don’t, you take them to the vet, and the vet makes them all better. I took Shakira to the vet three times over six days, and she grew weaker and weaker despite her treatment.

Thinking back, two possible causes jump to my mind. I’d put some cream cheese in her dish, which she normally ate rather quickly, but had failed to do so that time. So, I wiped it up quickly, and instead of washing the dish as I should have, I dumped some dry food in there. There was just enough cheese that when I investigated the dish after the first vomiting spell, I found a little mold on the bottom of the dish and some of the food. The other possibility is that she could have gotten hit with the same thing that killed so many pets who had eaten pet food from China. Lots of stuff in KSA comes from China, and I had bought her a small can of Purina’s Fancy Feast Tuna and Ocean Fish (something like that) at the compound store. It was meant to be a treat for my tuna loving cat, and she scarfed it down in nothing flat.

Over the last seven days, her symptoms have included vomiting, a period of no urine, complete loss of appetite, extreme lethargy, constant thirst the last few days (she’d lay with her chin in the water and resting on the side of the bowl), badly aching joints and painful movement, tremors, and a lack of fight. Twice she walked into a running shower and just stood there as if she was suffering from a form of dementia. I moved her out of the shower as gently as possible.

Yesterday, I decided to take her to the vet one more time. This time, she didn’t fight me to go into the carrier. I knew right there, in my gut, things were over. Shakira hated cat carriers, and it was like fighting a wolverine to get her into one. Yesterday, she just slipped inside. When I brought her home, I tried once again to get her to eat; but she was having none of it, no matter what I did. I woke up several times during the night to check on her, and it was always worse. I called my wife this morning and told her that this would be the day, that if she lived until the vet’s office opened this evening, I would have her euthanised, something I probably should have done yesterday. She spared me that uneasy trip and spared herself the trauma of dying in a place she didn’t know or like.

I’ve lost a good companion. She may not have liked anyone else, but she liked me. I was her human, and I was her protector. Unfortunately, I couldn’t protect her this time. It’s hard not to feel crappy about that.

Goodbye, Shakira. I will miss you.

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