Erica went to sleep today.
Holy Christ, I know this is supposed to be the best thing, but it hurts like a fucking icy spike up my ass. My daughter is bawling uncontrollably, as is her mom.
Yeah, me too.
Erica was 20 years, 3 months and 28 days old. Think for a moment that you’ve known this cat almost half your life – almost your entire married, family life.
Bitch. She should have never let go.
Bus Kid’s mom and I got Erica from a pet shop the very day that we learned we were expecting the Bus Kid. Within minutes of hearing that we would be parents, we went to a shelter. The first cat we found irresistible was at the Humane Society. That fella was doomed, so we went to the shop down the road. Erica was a lone kitty in a cage being harassed by some snot nosed kids. We saved her for the sum of $35. She was named for a soap character, and never was a more appropriate name given. Erica Kane.
We brought her into the little roach-trap we lived and loved in and she instantly became the Diva.
Bus Kid’s mom had a bad pregnancy, and was bedridden for months. The whole time, Erica was her companion. It was as if the Fates knew she needed company and provided it in Erica.
Three months later I brought Ernie in. That boy was the ultimate Alpha Male. Seconds after arriving, he made Erica his personal bitch. Not a day went by for the next 12 years that he didn’t own her. Chased her, ate first, shit first, beat the crap out of her all night long – generally made sure she knew he was the man. Mornings we would wake up and find piles of orange fur (his) and gray fur (hers) all over the place. Out-weighed almost 2-1 she held her own.
He succumbed at 12, and it took only a few months for Erica to come into her own. Liberated from the dominance of Ernie, she ventured from our bedroom in broad daylight. Even took to waiting for – nay even demanding – the 5 pm feeding. After a time, we’d see her out and about in the house where others could see her. She was 14 before my mom noticed we had “another” cat.
She’s lived the last 8 years as the queen of the house. She saw and outlived the two boys, Dino and Ratso. Marty came three years before Ernie crossed the bridge, and he still tries vainly to create the same havoc in her life that Ernie did.
Scarlett has been the only other female since, and Erica’s only competition for Diva of the House. But Scarlett is a tomboy and only really cares about Scarlett, not Diva-ness.
In the past few moths, we’ve hoped Erica would hang on til she could see the new house we’re having built. It would be her 5th with us. But within the last couple weeks, she’s weakened noticeably.
She still wandered the halls as of last night, but yesterday, I cleaned up catshit, puke and watched her yowl, and dump on the hall floor and knew she was never getting better. You want to talk heartbreak?
Her poor little soul and yes god damn it, I think she has one – wanted to quit, but her stubborn body wasn’t ready to let her die.
We care for and learn to love these animals and that means we have to make this miserable fucking decision for them. I looked at her yesterday afternoon, last night and this morning and knew that I was doing the right thing without really wanting to do it.
I hope to God she knew, somewhere in her little mind that we loved her as much as we did and let her finally go to rest because we loved her…
I have a lot of emptiness right now:
- Several packets of Friskies Fine Cuts, which she could handle with her weakened teeth.
- A blanket, two actually that were exclusively hers.
- That little spot next to the bed where we made her a comfy spot.
- Bus Wife’s pillow.
- The “outside water dish” on the porch.
Erica was the last cat we had that would get right THERE and nuzzle your face at night. I will miss that more than you know.
Counting now, I come to Erica being the 9th cat in my life that’s waiting for me at the bridge. Ming: my closest buddy. Gringo: the Big Daddy. Ernie – Best. Fucking. Cat. Ever.
Dino and Ratso, my two baby boys.
Sing, Guapo, Chang: Cats of my youth.
I bawled my eyes out when Ernie left, and I’m doing the same now. This old bag Erica has out-lived all the hell life and the Cat-Gods could throw her way, and survived no- THRIVED on it all.
What is it we miss? The life we imagine the cat lived, or the love we felt that they gave us?
Good Bye fat old cat, RIP.