In 1998 my cat Dagny had kittens. In my bed. At 3 o’clock in the morning. Dagny had 4 kittens. I kept two. Gouda and Sleestak.
By that time I was pretty deep into my alcoholism. I kept a job, and did pretty well at it, but I was drinking heavily.
The same year I got promoted and moved from Albuquerque to Reston VA. I had been promoted. I drove across the U.S. in a UHaul, towing my car by myself with three pissed off cats. Dangy, Slee and Gouda.
I worked at my new position for a while but the move, in hindsight, was a bad idea. I ended up isolated, without family or friends, and soon my drinking got worse. During the really dark days I thought of suicide daily. I had a problem that I didn’t know how to solve (and I didn’t really want to solve it. I wanted to keep drinking but not have the negative consequences). The only reason I didn’t kill myself was Dagny, Slee and Gouda.
I ended up losing that job and moved out to Vegas. I tried a couple times to get my shit together but it really didn’t work. I was in an endless cycle of getting drunk, hating myself because of it, and then drinking to forget that I hated myself. But the cats, my friends and family, were always there and always loved me.
This went on for a while, there is a lot of drama but that isn’t the point of this. Through it all my cats kept me going.
I ended up going to treatment with the help of my family. My family suggested that I find a home for the kittens while I tried to fix myself. I said that I wouldn’t go if I had to give up my cats. Dumb, maybe, but they kept me going. So my cats lived with my sister for a while.
I didn’t get sober that time around. Along the way I had an apartment fire. Dagny ran away and I never found her. It took another few tries. Finally I ended up in a halfway house for three months. Same deal as before, I’d go but I wouldn’t give up my little tribe, now down to Slee and Gouda.
The last time worked. I got sober. And after I got out of the halfway house I got an apartment and brought my girls home. Since then I’ve been through a lot but my girls were always there, just wanting food and love. The dark days were behind me and they still loved me and I loved them.
Slee had been acting a bit off for a week or so, peeing outside the litter boxes. We have a couple younger boy cats and I thought that she was just nervous because the boys would want to play with her while she was in the litter box, which she thought was an attack.
This morning I went to feed the cats. Slee is normally the first one there. She loves her food but she wasn’t there. I found her and Slee ran under the bed. My wife and I got her out. Slee was in bad shape. She had blood and gunk around her mouth and her butt was wet. She was lethargic. We put her in the cat carrier and she didn’t even try and fight.
We took her to the vet. They did an X-Ray. Slee’s bladder was basically shut down. Probably cancer.
So the took Slee in the back and put in a needle. They gave her some pain medication. They gave me some time with her. Slee perked up a little bit and started purring. I told her, over and over, how much she meant to me. That she was the best cat in the world. And she was. All she ever wanted was food and love. And she gave so much in return. She gave me the strength to live for a long time.
Slee purred lightly. I looked in her eyes and told her that she saved my life. And then the vet came in. I held Slee as she died.
When I got home I went directly to Gouda and gave her some love. She is going to be heartbroken. Her sister is gone. They would curl up in a big ball of cat and sleep together. They would clean each other and play.
And now it is just Gouda and I left from our original little tribe.