Story of Miss Kitty, Cat Companion To Norma, Friend to All Animals

From her good fortune as kitten to premature fatal acute illness and euthanasia





Miss Kitty appeared in the neighborhood of my parents rural home in late Spring of the year 2000 as a crusty-eyed, bloated, squalling, tottering black and white kitten of the tuxedo pattern. (You may see her with Norma in another photo in the dedication at the bottom of every page.) She may have been dumped off at the stop sign a block away or she may have been an engine compartment stowaway in a vehicle and jumped or fell out at the nearby stop sign. However she arrived, she came asking anyone she met for help in staying alive and she finally found me during one of my visits there.

After vaccinations, treatment for all her ailments and later spaying, and during her recovery, my mother Norma began providing care for Miss Kitty. Norma agreed to give her a home forever if she could be de-clawed to prevent damage to herself and her new house furnishings. Miss Kitty showed absolutely no response to either the surgery or to its lifelong effects. Norma could pet and play with her without danger of being accidentally scratched which is quite dangerous for the elderly because resistance to infection is often reduced later in life. I know that many people unconditionally condemn declawing, but it has probably saved thousands of feline lives by facilitating adoption and, at least in this case, seemed completely innocuous. Declawing also makes it more important to make the patient an indoor cat as it makes them more defenseless, less able to escape attack by climbing but not much less able to kill other animals. So indoors is where they belong unless they're leashed and closely supervised, and not only for these reasons, but for many more.

I would play with Miss Kitty during some of my visits to my parents. She would fetch a small rubber ball bounced down the basement steps! She'd go crazy over an object tied to a string and pulled under a spread out newspaper. But she responded to other toys such as fluttering feathers much as Miss Kitty, Amanda Blake of the old TV Western series "Gunsmoke", often responded to attempts at humor that she thought beneath her dignity; she would smirk! If a cat can smirk, Miss Kitty did! And that's how she got her name! 

As Norma aged and became unstable, I would take Miss Kitty outside in summer so she could nibble grass, snoop around and try to kill birds and mice. I tried to stay right with her to interrupt that and to keep her safe from roaming. Even so, she killed a meadow vole on the lawn right beside me before I could stop her! Cats are quick! Having her in the garden with me while I was working there was a mistake also. She proudly pranced up to me with a live Song Sparrow in her mouth! I pried open her mouth and it flew away!  "Oh Miss Kitty! I'm so sorry, but no thank you". I only hope it wasn't bitten and survived.



Miss Kitty nearly grown 

Eventually, Norma had to move to assisted living and then to subsidized housing. It seemed difficult for Miss Kitty to keep moving with her but she always seemed to adapt. I would always help her explore her new surroundings and we all tried to maintain patterns of care familiar to her.


One morning when Miss Kitty was 10 years old, I had to get her to a vet clinic for a dental prophylactic appointment. I couldn't find her! I found her vomit instead! She was lying in a closet, trying to hide. Had she somehow learned she had to go to the dreaded vet? When I picked her up, her rear legs seemed unusually weak. "Maybe you're just so scared". 

The nightmare of Miss Kitty's last hours began when the vet diagnosed saddle thrombosis, a blood clot at the "saddle" of the back where the artery supplying the rear legs separates. That prevented so much blood from reaching her rear legs that they were actually dying. That's extremely painful and that's why she vomited and tried to hide. "Oh, Miss Kitty!" I began entering the altered state of mind required to function. (It's the "Is this just a nightmare or is it real" kind of state.) 

The vet sedated Miss Kitty and said I could take her home for a few hours before her euthanasia. She was on my lap for the 15 mile trip to where I'd have to tell Norma that her companion of 10 years would have to be euthanized in a few hours. When I did, I heard my mother wail in a way I'd never heard before. It will haunt me forever. During goodbyes by family, I made desperate calls to find a treatment alternative to death. Only option was a very expensive treatment with poor prognosis a hundred miles away. 

With Miss Kitty now scrunched in her favorite little box, my brother and his friend took us back to the vet clinic over a route I avoid to this day. With Miss Kitty still being quite drowsy from the sedative, I carried her into the room where she would shortly die. Norma said she didn't want to witness her death and would come in after that. I don't recall whether or not any additional sedation was administered but the first IV catheter placed began to bleed. During placement of the second IV catheter, Miss Kitty felt enough discomfort to rouse from her sedated state to try to ward off her tormentor. It broke my heart. The final injection soon followed, death was confirmed and Miss Kitty's life had ended in a way she didn't deserve. 

Norma came in and fur and whisker snippets were taken. I soon came to regret that as it seemed a violation of the respect she deserved. And although I still have them, all they do is remind me of an unacceptable death that can't be redone. Norma and I then shared holding on our laps a Miss Kitty body that was far too limp. I recall that we tried not to show each other how devastated we were. We left Miss Kitty there to be cremated and I'd return for her ashes. I recall absolutely nothing of the return to home. But I recall we avoided our home like a plague for many days after Miss Kitty's death because her absence was unbearable and reminded us of her suffering and death.

I began to realize that Miss Kitty's euthanasia was less than satisfactory and I scheduled a conference in conjunction with my return for the ashes with the vet who performed it. I wanted to make sure she knew my opinion of it. I told her I thought I left Miss Kitty down in her last moments and that she deserved better. She said unconvincingly that Miss Kitty was "All right". 

This was the euthanasia whose warning went unheeded and that resulted in Tinkerbell's atrocity. It should've taught me that more planning was needed and that I'd the right and obligation to intervene when things seemed to be going wrong.

(Upper photo by Don Cypher, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Lower photo by Michael of PetEuthanasia.Info.)

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