We found Maggie at Magnolia Gardens. She was tiny. She fit into the palm of my hand. Her fur was in all directions, like a poofball. She reminded me of another cat that we had recently lost. We were at Magnolia Gardens with my grandfather. I talked Mommy into letting me have her. The sign above the little cage said the gardens would pay for shots and spaying, but I never managed to find the person who had written that sign. It didn’t matter. We took her home, me cradling her in my arms, both in adoration and because we were in my grandfather’s car. I named her Magnolia Melpomene. We’d just finished studying the muses in my ninth grade English class.
When Exit moved in with us a year later, it took some adjustment, but the two became the bookend kitties. They were similarly marked, although completely different builds. They’d sit in the windows on either side of the chimney and watch for us to get home. After I moved to Chicago, the relationship between Exit, Maggie, and Angel (a longhair my mom had adopted) deteriorated, and Maggie was being kept from food. My mom & Tom were having to keep her in a separate room from the other two cats. I offered to take her up with me. It’d always been my intent anyways to gradually bring my pets with me…I just couldn’t have more than one in my apartment, but I’d picked a pet-friendly apartment for a reason. So, Maggie moved to Chicago. Mommy & Tom brought her up to me. I spoiled her from that moment forward. She was thin, so I cut back on pizza and MTG cards so I could buy her premium indoor cat foods. I got her shots up to date, got her spayed…and she gradually got fat. 🙂 It became a little bit of a joke that she was now Fat Maggie. 🙂 Before I moved in with Scott, Maggie moved in with Scott. I wanted to give her the most time to adjust…not a sudden change coupled with the craziness of furniture moving. Scott was worried about the destruction a cat could cause, but I tried to tell him that she was the most behaved cat in existence. And she was. Aside from a few purely accidental claw punctures (what else do you do when you’re a cat and you’re falling?), she didn’t hurt anything in the house.
We had to run out quickly tonight for dinner. We had friends coming over, and we hadn’t eaten yet. Scott had to pick up his car, too…he had a flat tire earlier. I hadn’t seen Maggie all day, so when I got home and saw her in the litter box, I was really happy. But then she hopped out of the litter and started hacking in the hallway like she had a hairball. She foamed at the mouth a little, and I tried to calm her down and help her. And then she lost lower body muscle control, and not long after that, Scott got back, and I told him Maggie wasn’t right. We took her to the emergency vet, and they told us her heart was failing. We had to decide quickly, but it wasn’t hard. Though I cried, I knew inside. There had been lots of signs even before tonight. I hadn’t written about them in here, because I didn’t want it to be true, but there were signs.
They gave her a shot. It was blue and clear. I wondered if that’s the color of lethal injection. I held her, and her head dropped. I feel like the vet expected me to fall apart more. He didn’t know I’d lost it before he came in the room. And I wanted to hold her body, but it felt wrong. She wasn’t there any more. It was just a body of a cat that I loved…it wasn’t her. So I let him take her away. And I signed all the papers. And now we’re home.
Maggie’s been my best friend for so long. I mean, I know it’s not like a human friend, but she was always there. She sat with me when Ryan died and kept me company. She gave me a reason to come home each day instead of staying at work for more hours than I should. She talked with me in her kitty way. Now, I don’t know what to do. Do I clean up her things? Do I put them away? Part of me feels like I should, and part of me screams that it’s wrong to do it so soon. On one hand, I feel okay. I know I did the right thing, or else I wouldn’t have done it. No one should suffer like she was suffering tonight. On the other hand, I feel both guilty for feeling okay, and I feel the normal sadness. And I really don’t know what to do. Do I call the catsitter and let her know? Or is that messed up? Is it too soon for that? These are the things I’m thinking. My mind is racing. Everything happened so fast. I’m crying again, of course. And I know from before…it’s not now that I’m going to miss her. Now, it’s fresh. My head knows. But 2 days from now or 3 days from now, I’ll forget. I’ll come home and call her name. I’ll look for her and not know why I can’t find her. I’ve done this before. It hurts immediately. And then it hurts in different ways.
Maggie was the best cat ever. Everyone loved her. All my friends, all the vets she ever saw…they all said she was the best cat, so friendly and nice. She never got to eat a bird or kill a mouse, but she terrorized a few bugs every now and then. I think she had a happy cat life. I hope so.
Click here for the Maggie Gallery.