I wanted to write a more detailed post, but the thoughts and words are failing me right now, so I'm cross-posting from Facebook. I did add to the end though.
On Friday July 29, we put Astarte to sleep.
She was my "Un-Cat."
I loved her at first sight. She was the most striking calico I had ever seen, with the paint-splatter markings across her face and pupils that narrowed to tiny slits when the light hit them, like a dragon's. Astarte came into our lives, not because she chose me, but because she chose my brother. She was my brother's cat first, but after I saved her from a direct close encounter with one of our dogs with a high prey drive, I became her second.
She was named after the Syrian version of the Mother Goddess, Astarte, a goddess of creation and destruction. Except our Astarte never destroyed: she only created. She was left-handed and preferred to scoop water with her left paw to drinking directly from the bowl. She would chase imaginary bugs crawling up the walls and she lived to make us laugh. She had too-long ears that she would fold over backwards when grooming herself, which invariably made us giggle. I swear she did it on purpose. She genuinely thought that if she flattened herself against a surface, she would change color and become invisible...she would be so indignant if you reached out and touched her anyway!
|Her pupils would dilate in an instant if she thought there was an opportunity to play involved.|
"What is that??!!" We were watching Spongebob Squarepants...
"Whatchu lookin' at?" - Astarte
|"MY katana! Don't you dare touch it!"|
|"If I fits, I sits!" - Astarte|
|Boxes, shirts and shoelaces were all favorite toys...and they are all featured in this single photo!|
|Inside a box that she...redecorated?|
"This is MY box, mmmkay? You stay out of it, Aengus!" - Astarte
|"I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good." - Astarte|
|Pranking Aengus when he was still a kitten.|
|She was the best nap buddy.|
|Carlos was the other love of her life.|
She was my companion when I was studying French in college, and I started calling her "Gateau" which sounds like "Gato" ("cat" in Spanish) but actually means "cake." It stuck because she was so very sweet. Throughout her entire life, those of us that loved her called her "Gateau." She responded to it just like she did to "Gau" and "Astarte." She always answered when you called her by any of her three names.
When I was going to move to the US, I told my brother I was going to bring Astarte with me. I loved my cat, Shakti, but Astarte was my secret favorite. My brother said, "Hell no!" but a year later he moved to the States himself and she stayed behind with my mom.
Three years later, I asked, with my brother's permission, to have Astarte brought to me from PR. She had never been on a plane before but she travelled so quietly that everyone sitting near my mom complimented her.
And so began her life with Carlos and me. My little Puerto Rican Shorthair lived with us in 5 apartments and 3 states. For the move north from Florida, she rode loose in the car, alternating between curling up in our laps or the passenger side floor, with a litter box behind the passenger seat. 1100 miles and 17 hours she travelled, in my car. She weathered hurricanes, tropical storms, snow storms and one blizzard.
|"You people move too much! But I'm happy as long as I'm out of that goddamn carrier!"|
|"This ENTIRE bed is mine, yes?" Yes, Astarte, it is. You totally deserve your own bed after 1100 miles in a car! This was at the hotel we stayed at, the first night we arrived in the north.|
|She was so happy to be out of the car! She ran around the room with her nose to the ground like a Beagle. She made such a fuss over that enormous bed for herself...then proceeded to join Carlos and me on ours after we fell asleep. :) Because Astarte.|
|She had never seen snow before...and neither had Aengus because he was born in the summer! |
This was our first winter in Maryland.
|A second after this photo was taken, she turned her head against my chest and closed her eyes, falling asleep right there, being held like this.|
|"All hail to The Queen of Laps." - Astarte|
|She was a master rug climber. She would hook her claws into the carpet and drag herself along sideways as if she was rock climbing!|
|"I'm just going to rug climb away from that kitten right there..." - Astarte|
|Purring and kneeding on my lap while I talked on the phone with my mom one chilly winter morning in South Florida.|
|The master snuggler.|
|Weathering a summer storm. This was classic Astarte.|
|There was no such thing as to many kisses for this one. When I woke up in the morning and kissed Carlos, she would immediately hop on the bed with a "Gau!": "What about me? I want kisses too!"|
|You couldn't make up the wonderful things she did. Here she was, hugging my arm with her face resting on my hand, purring away.|
|Curled up in Carlos's lap after a rough shift in the human ER.|
I sat next to Carlos as the tears streamed down his face. The only thing harder than facing a loved pet's impending death is seeing a grown man cry over that pet.
We knew it was time.
I couldn't take her in to work with me because it was a one-hour drive in morning traffic. I just couldn't do that to her, and I couldn't handle dealing with who would hold her and who would place her IV catheter (I couldn't do either. Not with her). So I asked Carlos to take her in to the specialty hospital across the street from us the next morning after he got home from work. I could not handle being present.
I meant to bring home some clay from my hospital so I could make a pawprint of her tiny paws while she was still alive. I had always wanted to do this and I kept procrastinating. Halfway home that day, I realized I had completely forgotten the clay. I tried to not be upset and hoped that at the veterinary hospital across the street they would do it for us. This is something that most specialty hospitals do.
Carlos came home at 4:00 am and I rolled out of bed to set up the carrier. I picked up Astarte and held her for a long time, saying my good-bye. You can't hold them long enough when you know you'll never see them again. I told her how much I loved her and what an amazing cat she had been. When I placed her in the carrier, she immediately curled up on the towel I had placed in there for her. She used to hate the carrier and would wail when placed in it, but on this day she didn't say a peep. She knew and she was ready.
|"You brought me to your hospital to have blood drawn, which I hate more than anything in this world...but I love you anyway and I accept your food offering." - Astarte|
|Her "I love you" face.|
I felt her go. There was a flash of orange, black and white behind my eyes, at exactly 5:00 am, and I knew she was gone. I cried.
I never did tell Carlos about the pawprint.
He was back by 5:30 am. They had been able to place the IV without issue but had mentioned that her blood pressure had been very low; they had taken her away for it and brought her back immediately. She went peacefully.
|"I love you, so I will rest my head on your arm." - Astarte|
The pawprint. A pawprint of her tiny paws.
And I finished getting ready for work and went into the hospital that I had worked at for the past four years and kept a dog alive on the OR table despite her every effort to die on my very last day. Because I had to. No one else was dying on that day. I left that job with a bang.
I will miss you so much, my little one. You were such a good cat. Thank you for taking care of us, for watching over us, for loving us. Thank you for choosing us and for doing everything in your power to make us happy. A piece of my heart left with you.
|This was my favorite picture of her, sitting next to a paper mache angel.|
Because she was an angel herself.