Our beloved 18 year-old-cat left us this past week. It’s been hard. She was an amazing cat with so much personality. A hole is left in our hearts.
Daisy came to us through the Humane Society in 2001.
We had two cats when we moved back to Omaha from Chicago. Pepper, a beautiful gray cat, had been a part of our for seven years. I’d gotten her from a farm woman who ran a Bed and Breakfast between Lincoln and Omaha. I’d attended a retreat there and she told us that one of the cats had had kittens and we were welcome to take any or all of them. I chose a pretty gray kitty and surprised the boys (and my less-than-thrilled husband). The boys named her Pepper because of her coloring. She was a good kitty, but rather standoffish, especially to me. I think she held a grudge against me for taking her from the farm. An outdoor kitty at heart, she would glare at me as if to say, “Why did you bring be here?”
In 1996, my husband was transferred to the Chicago area. Pepper, used to being outdoors, left one day and was gone for several days. We worried because the suburb in which we lived had laws about pets and they allowed any homeowner to kill your cat if the animal trespassed on their property. We thought she was a goner for sure. I’d posted notices and let the sheriff and Humane Society know that we had lost our cat. Weeks went by and no Pepper. The boys were crushed.
I took them to the DuPage County Humane Society and they fell in love with a white cat named Sabrina. Sabrina was neurotic and didn’t know how to groom herself. (Bad when you’re a white cat!) I wondered if the previous owner had bathed her instead of letting her bathe herself.
Shortly after Sabrina joined our household, I received a call from a man in the next suburb over. He had Pepper! Apparently, she’d been hanging around the neighborhood because the nice people were feeding her delicious tuna and giving her all kinds of treats. The man said he’d been on vacation and had just gotten home. He saw my “lost cat” notice.
The boys and I drove over to pick up Pepper. On the way, we commented on the path she must’ve taken to get there. She would’ve had to cross three busy 4-lane streets, get by the Canadian geese that congregated at two large retention ponds, cross an industrial park area and finally come to the neighborhood where she was found by crossing another major thoroughfare.
Pepper seemed glad to see the boys and me. For a day or two, I was her best friend. But…there was another kitty in the house. Where did she come from? Pepper did not get along with Sabrina. Confused, both cats vied for their territory. I was here first! Over time, they tolerated one another.
Sabrina developed bad allergies and chewed her skin. I took her to the vet who gave her cortisone shots for the itching. It worsened, and she was bleeding at times. We moved back to Omaha in 2000. She continued to see the vet for shots. She was miserable. We finally decided to put her to sleep.
Joe was in high school and on a band trip to Disney World when we made the decision. Sabrina had been close to Joe and we knew he’d be upset but the poor kitty suffered so. Sad to hear the news, Joe returned home to find a new kitty in his room. We’d been to the Humane Society in Omaha and chose Daisy. In reality, Daisy chose us.
We’d taken Mike, our youngest, 10 years old at the time, to look at kitties. When we stood in front of the window where Daisy (aka “Sassy”) was housed, she got so excited, leaping around, showing us tricks as if to say, “Pick me! Pick me!” So, we did. I felt like we didn’t pick Daisy. She picked us.
Daisy and Pepper got along okay. Pepper still acted standoffish but seemed to begrudgingly accept Daisy.
Joe named her Daisy because he’d been to Disney World (Daisy Duck) and Daisy was a “Holstein” cat—black and white like the cows. “Daisy” seemed to fit her. (Later, we understood why the previous owner had called her “Sassy.” She let us know if she needed attention.)
Daisy loved being around the boys and their friends, frequently hanging out in the basement with them while they played video games. A load bearing pole in the basement that the previous owner had covered with the same carpeting as on the floor attracted her attention. Daisy would run around the basement and jump on the pole, climbing to the top, entertaining the boys and their friends. They figured out that if they ran their fingers along the pole or scratched the carpet, she’d play and jump on the pole.
One evening, Joe and Mike were in the basement watching TV when they called, “Mom! There’s a snake in the vent.”
I went downstairs with a flashlight. I heard a sound and it was Daisy. Somehow, she’d gotten up inside of the vent. When she saw the flashlight shining she tried to get the light, making her way to the window well. We all laughed at the scare she gave the boys.
Daisy loved to chase lights. Like most cats, she loved the laser pointer. She also liked flashlights. If we were using the flashlight to find something, she’d be right there, pouncing on the light. It could be annoying at times when we were diligently searching for something and there she was, jumping in front of us.
When we first got her, she loved to ride on the boys’ shoulders. She even jumped up on my shoulders while I tried to work on the computer.
A constant companion, she followed us everywhere. In the mornings, as I got ready for work, she’d sit in the bathtub and wait for water to drip from the faucet. She watched TV with us as she got older. When Dennis and I watched Jeopardy or Netflix, she sat there, mesmerized by the screen, sometimes stretching up to touch the television as action zipped across the “tube.”
If things were left on the floor, she checked them out and often sat on the boys’ backpacks and papers. I couldn’t imagine a bag full of books would be comfortable, but for some reason, she liked to sit on purses, computer bags and bulky totes. It’s as if she claimed them as her own.
Once, I put the 3-ring binder that holds my manuscript on the floor by the computer and she came over to investigate. It looked as if she was critiquing my work.
As the boys grew up and left home, she was stuck with us two old people. But she slowed down, too, often keeping our laps warm. She liked to sit in front of the heat vent in wintertime. She loved sitting under the Christmas tree. She wanted to be where the people were.
She groomed Pepper, mothering the older cat. Pepper acted annoyed at times, but put up with it. Sometimes we’d find them sleeping in the same little box downstairs. They both enjoyed laying in the sunlight that beamed through the front door. Sometimes Pepper’s tags would catch the light and reflect, catching Daisy’s attention who would then pounce on the light. Pepper would turn her head and the light would reflect elsewhere, then Daisy would pounce again. Sometimes Pepper looked at Daisy as if to say, “You’re such an idiot.”
Pepper got sick in 2007 and we had to put her down. It was tough, as it always is when you lose a cherished pet. Mike was in high school and had known Pepper most of his life. Daisy missed her, too, looking for her, calling for her. Over time, the pain of Pepper’s loss abated. We still had our dear Daisy.
Daisy developed chronic kidney failure and had frequent urinary tract infections. We fed her special prescription cat food that we bought at the vet office. Giving her pills for the infections proved to be a challenge. We tag-teamed, putting her in an old pillowcase with only her head exposed. Dennis would hold her still while I popped the pill in her mouth using the eraser end of a pencil to get it in her mouth.
Dennis retired in July 2016. I’d already retired from nursing two years prior. We decided to go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on vacation. The day before we left, Daisy got sick with another UTI. Our vet wasn’t available, so I took her to an animal hospital. The vet did all kinds of tests on her and said she was in kidney failure. He said she needed to receive sub-q fluids and medication. It would cost an arm and leg to keep her at the hospital and we didn’t think Joe could do the fluids while we were gone. (Joe was married by then, starting his own family. The other two sons lived far away so they couldn’t take care of Daisy.)
We called the Humane Society and they suggested going ahead with our trip and leaving plenty of water and food for Daisy (like we always did.) Joe would check in on her every day and give her medicine. If, by chance, Daisy died while we were gone, Joe was to call the Humane Society and they’d come pick up the body and hold it until we got home. We left town, concerned but knowing that Daisy was in good hands.
Upon our return from vacation ten days later, Daisy was chipper and bright, acting like she’d never been at death’s door. Pleasantly surprised and happy, we enjoyed our kitty with a new appreciation for her spunk.
She started to lose weight after that, but still liked to play and jump on our laps to watch TV. She slept in bed with me which was unusual, but she easily jumped up into the bed. She’d pounce on my feet when I moved in bed.
She went from 10# to 7# to 5# over a year’s time. It was sad to see her lose so much weight. When I’d pet her, I felt her spine and ribs. We took her to the vet again for another UTI and she got better again. We started giving her treats and tuna in the morning, trying to fatten her up. She’d started hacking up hairballs more frequently and we gave hairball remedy chews which she loved.
She became our alarm clock, yowling in the morning to come down and give her the treats. Sometimes, we’d wake up at 5:00 am to her siren song.
Things seemed fine. She still liked to play whenever anyone was in the little bathroom on the main floor. She’d put her paw under the door and wait for whoever was in there to slide a newspaper or other paper under the door for her to paw at. We used to warn visitors that, if they used that bathroom, they might see a little paw flick under the door, looking for something to play with.
She still chased the flashlight and played with her favorite toys. She still ran into the computer room whenever she heard the printer running. She still sat up and waited for her treats. She still greeted us at the door when we returned from grocery shopping or errands.
We had plans to leave for Chicago November 10 to attend our granddaughter’s birthday party. She’s been fine the 9th. I heard Dennis talking to her in the kitchen. He sounded unhappy. I went to see what was going on. Daisy was squatting like she did with UTIs and then I saw spots of blood. We called the vet and said it looked like another UTI. The vet sounded discouraged. Dennis and I discussed what to do.
He would take her to the vet since I had a meeting at 9:30 am. If it was something serious, we agreed that she should be put down. When I returned from my meeting, I noticed Dennis’ car in the garage but the cat carrier was missing. I knew that Daisy had probably been put to sleep.
Dennis told me that the vet said there was nothing she could do. Daisy was peeing blood and it was serious. It was time to let her go.
I spent the morning sobbing. It was strange because, I’d been sad when Pepper and Sabrina died, but never like this. I talked to my boys on the phone. Mike called from Oregon and Dave, from Chicago. All three boys spoke fondly of our kitty and shared many memories. I said I didn’t understand why I cried so hard for Daisy. Dave pointed out that, with Sabrina and Pepper, they’d been sick awhile and I’d seen them suffer. But Daisy seemed fine one day and was dead the next. I had no time to anticipate her demise.
I was glad we were going to Chicago the next day. A few days away might help. And it did. But coming home was hard. As we neared Omaha, I thought of Daisy, almost automatically, like I’d done before, wondering what she’d been up to while we were gone. What would we find when we walked in the door? Then it hit me. We wouldn’t find anything because she wouldn’t be there to greet us or meow and complain about our absence. We would enter an empty house.
I’m grieving but it helps to remember all the joy and love she gave us. We were so blessed to have our sweet Daisy Cat. Time will heal my broken heart, but memories of Daisy will be forever etched in my soul. Thank you, sweet kitty cat. You were the best!