Friday, July 20, 2007


Nearly 10 years ago, I rescued a litter of five orphaned kittens who couldn't have been more than a week old. We had gone to Ken's mom's house in the country one Friday afternoon and every time we walked out the door, we could hear kittens crying underneath the porch. Ken's mom said they had been crying for a day or two before we got there, that something must have happened to their mother. Having the soft heart I do for animals...and for babies in general...I tore off one of the side boards of the porch and started calling to them. The first one out was Fizzy...screaming her head off...and she was followed by four more. All were solid gray, and none of them had their eyes open yet. They were filthy and starving, so I mixed up some formula, found an eye dropper, and fed them. Then I gave them a sponge bath to remove all the dirt and cobwebs they had picked up under the house. When I washed Fizzy's face, she looked just like the fuzzy little creature named Fizzgig in the movie, Dark Crystal. So that's what we named her, but we called her Fizzy for short.

Needless to say, all five kittens came home with me at the end of the weekend and I became their mother...bottle feeding them four or five times a day. Fizzy was the most demanding of the bunch. She'd take short little catnaps and then wake up her brothers and sisters with her crying. As they got older, she continued to be the biggest crybaby of the bunch, and I couldn't wait for her to get old enough to give away...I didn't want a long-haired cat that demanded attention all the time...but as every cat person knows, we don't choose the cat, the cat chooses us.......thus, Fizzy remained with us and the others were given away. She stole our hearts.

She and Rick became great buddies...out of all three boys, he's the one she adored. Kevin joined the Air Force when she was still a kitten, so they never really bonded; Seth, being like he is, loved to torment her, which she enjoyed sometimes, so she had a love/hate relationship with him. But Fizzy and Rick had a very special bond. Even after he moved out a couple years ago, she would get in his lap whenever he came over, or "let" him pick her up so she could drape herself over his arm like a queen...and he came over regularly, to see his girl and make sure we were taking good care of her..... :)

Anyway, that brings us to a couple months ago. Fizzy started getting really picky about her food, so we changed it several times. She'd eat people food, but just didn't seem all that interested in cat food anymore. She began to lose slowly that we didn't notice at first. When I took her to the vet's office a month ago for her shots, she was a pound lighter than she had been the year before. The vet looked her over and couldn't see any problems, but told me to bring her back if she didn't start eating better. We bought some canned food, which she seemed to like, so we didn't worry too much. Then I left town for a week on business. I came home to find a much skinnier Fizzy. Maybe it took being gone for a week to notice the change in her, but it was drastic. I took her to the vet the next morning, Saturday, and she had lost another pound in just a couple weeks. They took blood and urine for tests, but said they wouldn't get the results back until Monday, so we took her home and tried to get her to eat a little canned food. By Sunday afternoon, she was so weak she would hardly move. I was leaving town again early Monday morning before the vet's office opened, so Rick said he'd take her in, even if his boss didn't understand and it cost him his job. I knew he'd take good care of her, but I worried about being gone for three days. I sat up with her for a long time that night, even though I had to get up at 4 a.m. to finish packing and catch a 6:50 flight. I sat on the floor with her for a long time, into the wee hours of the morning, just petting her softly and talking to her...and crying. I had this feeling that it would be the last time I would ever see her.....

I spent the next two days in meetings in Chicago and I can't really tell you what was talked about. I only remember talking to Rick on the phone...listening to his messages and calling him back during breaks in the meetings...and trying to compose myself after every conversation because they all contained bad news. By Tuesday afternoon, Rick and I reached the same conclusion...we had to let her go, we didn't want her to suffer anymore. She was so weak and in pain...and it was killing me that I wasn't there with her...but Rick was. He went to the vet's office and held her for a while. She gently draped herself across his arms, like she always used to do, and laid her head down on him one last time...I think she was saying goodbye...and I'm sure it tore Rick's heart out.

He called me when it was over...and I front of my coworkers...but I didn't care. I asked Rick to bring her home and bury her in the garden in the backyard...this was her home and where she belonged.

When I got home from Chicago the next afternoon, Rick and I stood by the garden talking about Fizzy...second-guessing our decision and wondering how it could have all happened so quickly. I hugged him for a long time...we consoled each other. Rick said he had picked up some jello and pizza for dinner that night after he buried her because those were some of Fizzy's favorite foods...but he didn't eat much. He said his whole body hurt after he got home. I know how he feels...I still have a hard time with it. I still expect to see her at home...and I know Rick still looks for her every time he walks in the door. I think it's going to take a while.....