My Teddy Bear

The day we got her she was this teeny tiny brown and white kitten with big beautiful eyes and a tail like a raccoon.  If she had ever grown into that bushy tail of hers she would have been about toddler sized!  She started out as a sweet friendly little thing but she changed.  She grew up to be crabby and testy but we didn’t care because she was ours.  She loved us and we loved her.

 I remember when I boarded her once while we went on vacation.  She hated it!  We were gone for a week and when we came to get her she was hiding, she had been hiding the entire week.  I walked into the room and called her name.  She came right out and right to me climbing into my lap, purring like crazy.  She was a mean little monster but she had missed us. 

She wanted things her way in her time.  She liked to sit on me and she let me pet her but when she was tired of it she’d just bite me or growl and that was my cue to quit.  She had me very well trained.  We couldn’t pick her up ever, she just would not tolerate it. 

 A couple of years ago I took in another cat, Cosette.  She is Anne’s cat and she couldn’t keep her any more so she asked me to keep her for me until she could get into a place that allowed pets.  Teddy hated Cosette!  She would growl and chase her around the house.  Teddy started losing weight and I attributed it to having a kitten here making her more active.  She never warmed to Cosette but she learned to tolerate her presence. 

 I noticed that she seemed to be losing a little too much weight so I started watching what she ate.  She was still eating and still active so I decided just to keep an eye on her.  I had read on the internet that older cats sometimes cut back on their food intake and lose some weight so I hoped that was what it was.

 I came home one night and it was very clear that there was something very wrong with my little girl.  I put her in her carrier and rushed her to the veterinary hospital down the street.  On my way there she was caterwauling like the girl I know so I kept telling myself that I was over-reacting and that she was going to be just fine.

When we got to the hospital they put us in an exam room and I took her out of the carrier to let her explore.  She walked over to a corner and laid down.  My heart began to break because this was not my feisty Teddy Bear.  When the vet came in to look her over she told me right away that Teddy was very sick, she could tell by the way her breath smelled.  I had a small panic attack when I saw the vet take ahold of Teddy and feel up and down her sides and Teddy just laid there and looked at me with these sad eyes.  That wasn’t my girl!  She should have been growling and fighting and trying to bite her, not just laying there.

They kept her overnight and treated her for dehydration.  We were hoping that once she was re-hydrated she would bounce back and start eating.  I went home that night hopeful, agreeing to all of the treatments, x rays, ultrasounds, antibiotics and whatever else it took to get her better.  I had half convinced myself that they were over-reacting and she would bounce back and prove us all wrong.

The next day I got a call.  It had been eighteen hours and she wasn’t getting any better.  Her fever was all over the place and her kidneys were not functioning properly.  They weren’t sure if the re-hydration was working and they wanted to let me know they would certainly keep trying if that was what I wanted.  I was upset of course but I knew then it was time to let her go.  I left work and drove around for a while until I could bring myself to go in.  I talked through it with my daughter, my Mom and my best friend mostly to convince myself that I was making the right decision. 

When I walked in the girl behind the counter Mary, was the same one from the previous night.  She knew why I was there because I had phoned ahead so I didn’t have to say it out loud.  I don’t know actually if I could have said it if required

I sat in the waiting room while they treated an emergency before me.  There was a little fuzzy dog who had eaten chocolate and the owners hadn’t noticed it until the next day.  He was a pretty sick little guy so I certainly understood why he would take priority over me.

Once they stabilized the dog they came to get me and put me into a small room with a couch, two end tables and a window.  A few minutes later a technician brought Teddy in to me.  She was wrapped in a red flannel blanket and the tech had a hot water bottle with her too.  She told me that the hot water bottle was to keep her warm and it would be best not to take the blanket off.

I took my baby girl into my arms and walked around the room cradling her to me and talking softly.  She was so weak and disoriented and it took her a little while before she realized I was holding her.  I took her to look out the window and that scared her somehow so I immediately sat down on the couch and cuddled her talking softly to her until the agitation was gone.

She had no voice.  She was so weak and sick that she couldn’t really meow and could only hold her head up for a few seconds at a time.  I shifted her and unwrapped her to make sure she wasn’t twisted up in the blanket.  It broke my heart to see just how much thinner she had gotten in just one day. 

I sat with her for about an hour.  They came in to check on us about every twenty minutes or so but otherwise left us alone.  I tried so hard not to cry.  I didn’t want to confuse or upset Teddy any more than leaving her with a bunch of strangers who poked and prodded her had already done.

Teddy did this thing where she would climb on me when I was sitting on the couch.  She would lift her head up so that I would bend down and kiss her on the top of her head.  Once during that hour she did that.  She held her head there and made a small plaintive sound.  I knew then it was time for me to say good bye.

The next time the tech checked in I told her we were ready.  She left and a few minutes later the vet came in with her equipment.  She was very nice to me and Teddy.  She knew how difficult this was for me so she took some time to explain what was going to happen. 

She had a tube already attached to her paw so the vet took it and injected a saline solution.  After the saline solution she injected something to calm Teddy down.  She waited a moment and then asked me if I was ready.  I nodded my head, unable to speak and put in the last injection.  Teddy went immediately.  The vet took her from me and told me to stay as long as I needed taking my baby kitty with her.

I stayed for a few minutes to gather myself together and then I left.  As I was leaving some of the people working there came out to express their condolences on my loss.  They were all very nice but I really just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.  I drove around for a while and then went home.  I didn’t really want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to be by myself to grieve.  I called Annie to tell her it was done and we cried together.  I left my kitty there and that was so hard to do but I know in my heart that it was the right thing to do.  She was too sick and too weak and treating her any further in her shape would have been selfish.  She would have been fifteen years old in March.

I miss her.  Not every minute but at odd times.  When Cosette does something that is reminiscent of Teddy it makes me miss her.  I miss our morning rituals.  I even miss her grouchiness!  Last night Lara gave me a beautiful framed photo of Teddy she had made for me.  I was going to hang it in my bedroom but I’m not sure now.  I have it sitting on my entertainment center right now and I can look up at it from where I’m sitting.  I think about her every day.  Some days I still cry but I know soon I won’t do that any more.

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4 Responses to My Teddy Bear

  1. Anna Cornett says:

    Mary, thank you for sharing such an intimate experience that was written with such heart and emotion. I felt both the sorrow and amusement you felt in the time you spent with Teddy, and she will live forever in your heart and in this story. You had a long, wonderful life experience with Teddy. That is something to be thankful for, and this story expresses that beautifully.

  2. Liz Sweda says:

    This is a very beautifully written memory Mary. I was able to keep it together until the part about your final goodbyes where Teddy lifted her head for one more kiss-a special thing that two shared and understood. I can only imagine how difficult it was to let such a loyal friend go but in many ways she will always be with you. I still get tears thinking about Lucy now and then but I will always be grateful for the many happy years we had.
    Thank you for sharing this, I really appreciated it.
    Take care,

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