Tag Archives: cats


well clearly i haven’t gotten any better at updating on this general “me” blog. i’m doing better at writing in my art blog, but not here. last i wrote here it was february. and now it’s october. it feels like a lot has happened since then, but at the same time, not much, or not enough. but maybe what has happened is just what was supposed to happen. everything in its time.

and i’m still here. now 56. and now cat-less for the first time in 15 and a half years.

yes, the biggest most recent thing to happen is that stencil the cat died. yesterday. i had to put him down. and it was heartbreaking. excruciating, really. from diagnosis – tumor in his throat, likely cancerous, that was constricting his esophagus and trachea – to death was 2 weeks. i mean, the vet and i had been trying to figure out some of his obvious behavioral and physical changes over the past few years but nothing was coming up on bloodwork or scans. until two weeks ago. he’d lost the ability to meow beyond a whisper a few months back. i just thought it was a getting old thing, that he’d finally given up the loud bellowing that followed sticker’s death a year and a half ago. it didn’t seem like he was straining or in pain, and i welcomed the quiet. i should have brought him in sooner… but i just didn’t realize it was a sign. he kept eating and doing all the normal cat things, so we just kept keeping on.

sigh. i’ve been crying nonstop for days, knowing i was close to having to make the decision to put him down. but it was so confusing, because he’d rally and seem like he was doing better. and he was still so attached to me up to the end, until the moment i had to extricate him from under the bed to take him in to the vet for his euthanasia appointment. he did get mad at me for that, and the ensuing kenneling. he always hated going in the kennel, and going to the vet. maybe he knew what was coming.

but now my house is empty and quiet. i threw the giant old man litter box out last night. dumped all the half eaten cans of cat food that were in the fridge. picked up and washed the elevated bowls i’d only just bought him a few months ago to make his eating easier. threw out some well-loved toys. changed the sheets on the bed and vacuumed underneath it, because when i had to pull him out from under there i realized he’d vomited under the bed what looked like weeks ago. (ick.) picked up and emptied out his water fountain – i still need to give it a thorough scrubbing before offering it to anyone else. de-furred the sofa and threw out his very beaten up cat scratcher/lounger. (there’s a second one i’ll offer up to anyone who wants it because it’s newer and in better shape, still has life left in it.)

i still need to take his cat tower out of my studio, but it’s large and bulky and i might need help. it’s not one of those carpeted towers – it’s one of those newer kinds made of wood, made to look nice and go with your furniture and just has furry pads on the different levels that can be replaced. the furry pads are goners after at least 10 years of use by stencil and his brother sticker, but i’m pretty sure someone can buy new ones and just wipe down the rest of it and it will be good as new. i remember this thing being pretty expensive at the time. but that will free up some space in my studio.

and i still need to give the house a thorough vacuuming and dusting. mop the bathroom and use the shopvac to get all the remaining litter out of there. and then the chore of donating/offering on the local buy nothing group all of his food and treats. i still have medical stuff leftover from sticker’s death a year and a half ago too. i need to move that shit out of here.

i made several social media postings on facebook and instagram about stencil’s illness and then death and got quite an outpouring of support. it was really sweet and i have felt really held by my community of friends far and wide. it’s been very helpful. it’s hard when you are already very alone in the world – no partner, no kids, no real living family that you are close to, no housemate of any kind beyond your cats – when they go and now you – i – am all alone, really. it was so so quiet and still in the house last night. i did sleep, uninterrupted possibly for the first time in a long time, but it was still an uneasy sleep without my boy next to me, touching me, putting his paw in my hand or resting his head in my open hand. that’s how we often slept together.

but yeah, so i’ve been emoting strongly and openly to everyone and anyone for days now, crying so much i had to take tylenol last night to make my head stop hurting. i feel very wiped out. still sad, but mostly empty, still in a bit of disbelief that there is no living creature sharing my home now. it’s just me.

i know i’ll get used to it. maybe i’ll even come to enjoy it, the freedom of not having to rush back to my house to take care of aging, ailing cats at least twice a day, lately much more often. it does make taking a trip i’d planned months ago for mid-october a lot easier. i’d like to think it will make me more likely to take off on adventures a little more frequently, but i’ll have to get back to a better financial place for that. the past few years of vet bills have really piled up on the old care credit card.

anyways. i’m not sure what the point of this post was other than just to update what’s been going on. you can read about my art adventures on the art blog – the one thing i will say is that i have definitely succeeded with my previously-mentioned intention of developing a more consistent art practice. i’d say i’m in the studio almost every morning, and now that i’ve paid to take a 12-week course, i’m painting almost every day. it feels good, even though i can’t say i’ve had any major breakthroughs yet. but i’m moving in the right direction.

life goes on, at least for me. and now i’m left to make sense of it without both of my longtime familiars. i’ll be ok, i know, but i sure miss them both.

rip sticker (2008-2022)

sticker in his prime, circa 2016

if you follow me on social media, you are probably tired of hearing me emote about my cat sticker. over the past year, i chronicalled his battle with renal failure and the more recent discovery of liver cancer as a way of coping with my feelings about it, which helped me finally come to the decision to euthanize him last wednesday. i had a hard time letting go but it was the right decision; it was time. i thank all my friends and followers on facebook and instagram for allowing me the grace to overindulge my sadness and grief in their feeds.

writing has always been one of the ways i’ve processed my life and its many twists and turns. it’s one of the reasons i keep this blog, even though i write in it so sparingly and usually only about my recovery from brain surgery or non-alcoholic beer. i’m going to try to write more often about different topics, just to get shit out of my head and to keep my brain from turning to absolute mush in my middle age.

but to stay on topic here, yesterday i picked up sticker’s ashes at my vet’s office, having been delivered there by heaven’s pets.

i wasn’t prepared for how emotional i would feel seeing a tiny baggy with some of his shaved-off fur and the card with his big ole polydactyl front paw print. (i specifically asked them for a front paw print since he had those ridiculous extra toes.) i don’t really know what i will do with all these remains, though the idea of eventually incorporating them into a painting about him seems inevitable. i’m not ready for that quite yet though.

stencil and i are adjusting. i think stencil is lonely but he’s too old to subject him to a kitten in the household and i really don’t think he’d accept an older cat. (plus i really just don’t want a 2nd cat, at least not right now.) but every morning now after i feed him breakfast, he sits on his cat tree perch in the living room, staring out the window at nothing in particular, and just howls. loudly. incessantly. i kinda feel bad for the neighbors, because i’m sure they hear him, but even when i go in there and talk to him, play with him, give him treats, as soon as i leave the room, he’s back at it, meowing again. at some point he gets tired and curls up for a nap but it’s a pretty annoying 7am routine. (he doesn’t do this at other times of the day.) i don’t know if it has anything to do with missing sticker but he just started doing it, so maybe.

as for me, since wednesday i’ve done a lot of cleaning in the house. wednesday night i channeled my grief into vacuuming and rearranging the furniture in the living room a bit. i just needed a change from the position i’d just spent much of the last few weeks in nursing sticker on his window ledge behind the futon. so i moved the futon to a different wall, and the folding table that is my art table to a different spot. i’m not sure i like it but it’s nice in the short term for things to be different. today i bought another set of plastic drawers on wheels that are wide enough to accomodate a lot of my paper supplies and prints – it’s a $20 cheapie flat file hack. so the living room/studio space feels better organized now. we’ll see how it feels when i get back to actually painting again.

i also bought a new larger litterbox. well it’s not really meant to be a litterbox – it’s a long plastic bin that’s only six inches tall, probably meant for under-bed storage, but it’s basically as large as both of the smaller boxes i had for sticker and stencil before. they’d used the same litterboxes their whole lives; i would periodically scrub them out in the backyard so they lasted a long time. but stencil being an only cat now, and a senior cat, i figured i’d get him one large box that fit the same space. i hope he likes it ok. i’m thinking it will be easier to upkeep.

it’s going to take a while to get used to sticker not being here. i still sometimes expect him to be underfoot when i walk to the bathroom. but i know he’s free now from the pain of his little failing body, and i think he had a pretty good life as a pampered housecat these past 13 years. it was certainly a better life than he would have had as an outdoor feral cat, which is what he was when he was found as a baby kitten along with stencil and his other littermates on the campus of west jeff high school post hurricane gustav.

this was the irresistible kitten picture attached to their craigslist “adopt me” ad:

those crossed paws! still kills me. they always loved each other so much.


life goes on, i guess. it’ll just be a little more lonely in our tiny house. but at least stencil and i have each other. and now i will have to spoil him even more. i’m sure he won’t mind!