Friday, March 1, 2013


The cat perched atop my head is no longer with us.

She was suffering from a combination of kidney disease, arthritis, dementia, and most lately a urinary tract infection that had her peeing outside the box and forcing us to keep her in a separate room with plastic on the floor. We had hoped to nurse her back to some semblance of health — meds for the UTI and pain, subcutaneous fluids for her kidneys but when she stopped eating and her breathing became labored, we knew it was time. She had been with us for 15 years.

Peaches came to us via a friend who had found her abandoned as a kitten at a private airfield outside of Tucson. The roar of planes and shouts of men left her fearful, and she was a timid cat all of her life. But when we first met her, she came up to us with such joy that I wanted to name her after the Zappa tune “Peaches En Regalia.”

Her timidity showed whenever she came upon a strange object, maybe just a crumpled bit of paper, and stuck a paw out to tap it in the most tentative way. And unlike our other cats, I don’t recall ever seeing her go after a lizard, much less trap one. She also had a peculiar habit of settling in on our heads, whether in chairs or in bed, and kneading while she purred.  She was a sweetie.

She was also a pacer, stalking the room and hardly ever settling down. Seven or eight years ago this turned out to be a manifestation of hyperthyroidism, and we had to take her for radiation treatment that lasted a couple of weeks and probably made her think we’d abandoned her. When we got her back, we had to keep her away from our heads for a while since she was still “hot.”

Some dental issues last summer led to what must have been pain while eating and a drastic loss of weight, so we hoped surgery would resolve that. Sad to say, she never seemed to have regained all of her cognitive faculties after the anesthesia; her pacing became more pronounced, and despite being more capable of eating she would wander away from her food so that we eventually had to keep her in a kennel at mealtime just so she would focus on her bowl. Unfortunately, the other issues just piled up.

When we knew yesterday it was time to take her in, Beth carried her in to say goodbye to our one remaining Tucson transplant, Dinah. When she brought them nose-to-nose, Peaches put a paw out and Dinah licked it. Then we took her to the vet. I only wish they’d come up with a way for humans to go as quickly and peacefully.

Peaches provided a title for this blog, which I more or less abandoned a year ago (not quite as pathetic as an abandoned cat, but just about). I’ve hemmed and hawed over its still being up; but now that it’s become a tribute, I see no reason to take it down.

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