Monday, July 18, 2016

Farewell to a furry friend

                Kyrie lost a member of her crew a few days ago. Some time early Saturday morning, Desi, our beloved boat kitty, died in her sleep. She was about eighteen and while it wasn’t unexpected—she started going downhill about a week ago—it was still incredibly sad.
                Desi didn’t join our family as a kitten. No, Joe found her at the animal shelter in Anchorage in 2010, after our cat Oscar had to be put down. We still had another cat, Felix, and he didn’t do well as an only cat and therefore needed a companion. We didn’t want another kitten, so while Levi and I were out of town, Joe went to see what the animal shelter had in the way of older cats. Twelve-year-old Desi (short for Desdemona) and her kitty housemate had just been brought in a few days earlier. Joe liked the look of the other cat better, but decided Desi had the better disposition—she was very sweet and friendly—so he chose her.
                He made a good choice! Desi made an excellent addition to our family, putting Felix in his place every time he tried to tell her he was boss (she gave it right back to him!), getting along with our dog Bandit, and not minding the kids playing with her.
                Through Desi’s time with us, she saw Rachael arrive shortly after she did, a move to Juneau and then into a different house in Juneau, Megan’s arrival, Bandit’s death, and then Felix’s death. And then, we really asked a lot of her! We packed that 17-year-old cat up in a carrier, put her on an airplane to Portland with us, made her ride in a van up to Canada, and then welcomed her to her new home—a sailboat! And she was a rockstar. Desi never got seasick and she never fell in the water. She liked to get off the boat and roam the docks, both in Semiahmoo and here in Juneau, but she never went far. She also liked to freak me out by wandering around Kyrie’s deck and sitting out on the bow, although I never let her while we were underway!
Our intrepid boat kitty! Desi explored every
inch of Kyrie's deck
Since Kyrie was her home, that cat went everywhere the boat went. She put up with all the wild waves on the trip up to Juneau, she grudgingly accepted that we wouldn’t let her on the dock in Taku Harbor and she adored being able to curl up on the cushions in the cockpit when the sun shone.
                It was easy to forget how old she was though, and it came as a bit of a surprise when Desi got sick about a month ago. She rallied, or at least seemed to, and I thought she was going to stay with us a while longer. Sadly, her time with us was nearly over at that point. About a week ago, I realized she wasn’t eating her food, and she loved canned cat food. And there were other signs that something wasn’t right. At that point, there wasn’t anything we could do for her that would heal her. Her life may have been prolonged, but I don’t know for how long and if it would have been worthwhile.  Joe had been out working on the tender and I texted him, letting him know she wasn’t doing well. I talked to the big kids and let them know—they knew she was obviously not feeling well—that Desi probably was not going to get better.
                Friday came. We all had plans that would take us off the boat most of the day. The big kids were spending the night with friends, starting that afternoon, Megan was spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa, and I was going out for a much-needed girls’ night out with my best friend. Before we left, I told Levi and Rachael I thought it would be a good idea to say goodbye to Desi before we left. I said, “I hope I’m wrong, but I think there’s a good chance she won’t be here when you get home tomorrow.”
                There are times I’m truly sad to be right. We all went our separate ways. I got home after being out with my friends around 11:15, wondering what I would find. My kitty girl was still there, lying on the bed where I left her. She didn’t want any food or water, even though I tried to get her to take some, and she couldn’t stand up, so I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be long.  I put Desi back at the foot of the bed, wrapped her up in the blanket that was there for her, and scratched her ears. I told her it was okay, I knew she was tired and although I didn’t want her to, she could go if she was ready. Then I did my best to get to sleep.
                Something woke me up at 5:40 the next morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but I wanted to check on Desi. Sure enough, she was gone. She was already cold and stiff, so I think she had waited to for me to get home Friday night so I could say goodbye. That thought brought a smile to my face despite my tears.
                We will all miss our Desi girl. She was a beautiful cat with a beautiful disposition and she brought smiles to everyone’s faces. It’s also sad because it’s the end of an era. For the first time since before Joe and I got married, we are without a pet. Unfortunately, with our plans for world travel, it’s going to have to stay that way. It is kind of fun to think of all our critters—Oscar, Bandit, Felix, and now Desi, back together again and playing at Rainbow Bridge. I like to think that they’ll watch out for each other.


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