It still just doesn’t seem real.
I keep expecting to see Ezri somewhere around the house; sleeping, walking around, eating, begging for a water faucet to be turned on for her, or jumping up into my lap at the computer and curling up.
I’ve put off writing this for a bit as every time I start to it’s too hard to continue. But it’s time to write this entry to honor Ezri, a beloved member of our little mixed family of humans and animals. She went too soon, and she went too quickly. I think it happened so quickly I haven’t even processed it yet and it’s been harder on me than when I know it’s going to happen ahead of time.
My wife Jennifer found Ezri running across a highway on her way home from work, about twelve years ago. Jennifer and another person stopped to rescue the poor little kitten and the other person explained that she would take the kitten except that she couldn’t because she already had four cats. She even left some food to be taken home with the kitten.
I remember the day well.
My father and I were cleaning out the mess of a broken septic pipe. The septic system outlet had been run through the old cistern of our two hundred year old plus house, a cistern that wasn’t used any more of course, and had high walls and was situated in a hardly-accessed corner of our cellar. At some point during the winter the pipe had broken and started filling up the cistern. It wasn’t until the Spring later that I noticed this, and by then it was a huge dirty job. I’ll spare you the details. But probably whatever is the worse that you can imagine would not be as bad as it really was.
So needless to say I wasn’t in a very good mood. But despite that I certainly wouldn’t say no to rescuing such a pretty little kitten in need. I remember Jennifer bringing the tiny kitten down the hill beside our house for me to see. I could barely do more than look at her for a moment at the time, because of the terrible job we were carrying out.
She flourished and seemed to be a happy well-adjusted kitten. And I can remember a number of little amusing incidents and things about Ezri over the years.
When Ezri was still very small, when we first got her, I carefully put her on the back of our Rottweiler and took a quick photo, which you can see here. Our Rottweiler was extra-large but was a pretty good dog and certainly very well-behaved with the cats and as careful with them as a Rottweiler could be. He had no problem being cautious with the tiny kitten on his back as I snapped a couple of shots, staying almost perfectly still, and Ezri seemed just as happy to be there.
One time I heard something in the kitchen, I went out to find some of the paper recycling that I was getting ready to take away scattered around.
And inside the boxes of papers was Ezri, crazily rummaging through them and playing with the loose edges and scraps. When she heard me she kind of settled down into the papers, maybe thinking she was in trouble or mock-hiding from me – and in fact despite her calico markings it took me a moment to realize that she was in there.
We had some pet rats at one time, actually quite nice little animals but with a short life span. We had a light over them to keep them warm in their aquarium/cage and usually you’d see Ezri laying as close to the side of the glass aquarium as possible to soak up the heat. During the winter it was hard to find her anywhere else but right there, the rats on the other side of the glass.
Ezri and Crusher were quite close, especially when they were younger. Crusher was another rescue. While out for a walk with the dogs we passed by a box beside the road. On the way back I went to look in the box; don’t ask me why I would do so but I did. Inside was a tiny little kitten. I carried him back to the house and we fed him, having to get up during the night to feed him a few times since he was so small and so starved, and he really should have been fed by his mother of course. We found out later that he also had parasites that had burrowed into his neck, some sort of thing that had been laid by flies probably while he was stuck in the box beside the road. We had to pull them out with tweezers, amazingly he was such a good little brave guy and let us do what had to be done. And he thrived after that.
We found Ezri after him and I believe they weren’t too different in ages, so the two of them would sleep and play together some, or groom each other. Or more likely Crusher would groom Ezri but get a little rough and chase her away sometimes with his play.
Later my wife found and rescued Geordi, a little black kitten running around homeless out in an outdoor market in the Niagara Falls area, and brought him home. The three of them would sometimes curl up together also. As they got older they got a little more independent of each other but Crusher and Ezri still would share the place beside me on the couch quite often.
Later in her life Ezri would sleep on the bed and if it was cold she would come up to about face level with me, and sit and wait for me to wake up and notice her. I’d lift the covers and she’d climb in, huddle up against me, and as she got warm she’d stretch out for her whole length against me and sleep that way for hours, totally covered.
She also, like a number of our cats, liked to drink water from the faucet. We make extra sure there is plenty of water throughout the whole house but they still like the running water from a faucet and Ezri was no exception. Sometimes when I was in the kitchen or master bathroom she would stand or sit in the doorway, wait until I met her eyes, and then meow. I’d go in, turn on the water, and sometimes lift her up to the sink.
She didn’t NEED to be lifted up but she seemed to wait for me to do it, as I would pet her a bit, and then she could get her drink. Though many times she would wait on the edge of the sink until I said it was okay and tapped the faucet. I think she wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to wash my hands while she was down there, or something like that. But she obviously was waiting for the signal and would then proceed to drink the running water once I told her it was okay or tapped the faucet. If you don’t think a cat can learn to understand words or gestures then you are sorely mistaken.
Ezri was a little submissive with the other cats, a bit skittish sometimes, and would hide when human strangers came to visit, usually. As she got older she ‘d still play with cat toys, as cats of any age will do. She’d get crazy once in a while as cats sometimes do, and would frantically kick and bite and play with whatever was nearby, even if it was the couch, at which point I would usually throw a toy her way for her to catch and play with.
With us she was very affectionate, and spent many hours in my lap at the computer or while I was watching tv. She loved to rest her head on my wrists or hands as I typed, her head bobbing up and down in what looked like an uncomfortable way. Sometimes while I was watching tv she’d rest her head on my hand, or try to press her face against my palm so that my hand was covering her face. There’d be sometimes at the computer that I’d have to take a break and use it one-handed as she pressed her face between my fingers and against my palm. She loved that for some reason and would stay that way as long as I would keep my hand covering her. Most nights she spent the evening laying beside me on the couch. Sometimes with Crusher curled up against her and I or vice versa.
She also liked laying on objects that to you and me would seem uncomfortable to lay on. Usually one of the remotes or something like that.
Lately she had been climbing up into my lap while I had dinner. She wouldn’t beg for food, she’d just climb up and slide herself under the table and lay there as soon as I sat down with my food. Perhaps she wasn’t feeling well at that time and just wanted the comfort of being near me.
Lately I had been noticing that someone had been puking up clear water near the cat litter. I couldn’t figure out who was doing it but I thought maybe it was a hairball problem. It must have been Ezri as it hasn’t happened since she got sick.
She went down hill quickly. We noticed her huddled up and acting badly, but she had had stomach problems in the past, many times. Perhaps those hadn’t been stomach problems but problems with her trying eat. We thought it was hairballs as usual, as before there was a bit of hairball puking and then she’d be fine. Or I might give her some hairball medicine and things would be fine.
It went on for a day but I thought she was getting better when I ran some new water in a dish and she drank some. She hadn’t been laying on the bed much lately but that night she climbed up and spent the entire night against my legs.
The next day she was in bad shape and I checked her over. That was when I noticed the tumors under her tongue. They were pretty recognizable as feline oral squamous cell carcinoma. Cauliflower-like as described, research showed no hope. Maybe noticing it a year and a half ago might have bought her some time, but it seems that once they have it there’s not much chance of surviving even after surgery. And this was obviously too invasive for surgery. It was obvious that it was too late, and I used an eye dropper to give her some food and water. But I still had hope that I was wrong maybe. But as I prepared to make the appointment to take her to the vets she started having some breathing problems and I decided to just drive to the vet as it was an emergency at this point. By then it was too late, I knew she wouldn’t make it, and it was only going to cause her stress to try to take her in the car. A few minutes and she had died while I held onto her, petting her and telling her it was going to be okay.
I had tried to get the dogs to leave the room at that point, as well as Hoshi and Spock, two of our other cats. But I couldn’t leave Ezri and they stayed and watched in confusion, maybe horror.
I found that I couldn’t bring myself to move Ezri for a while. It was almost impossible to believe that she was gone, especially with cancer as it is usually so slow-moving. I suspect that Ezri had been hiding her discomfort for quite some time. She hadn’t seemed to lose weight or anything. It’s hard to believe it happened so quickly but I am glad that I didn’t put her through long vet visits when there was no hope, and that she died at home – though I wished I could have taken her so that she could have passed away with a sedative.
It was a bad day, perhaps one of the worse in my life. Right up there with the worse for sure. I had to go set up a wireless router for a customer and I found myself wondering how I was going to do that. But once I got there the work involved me, especially with a cantankerous mixture of different devices that needed to be connected to the Wifi, and a cable modem that didn’t like the router very well.
But I think I spent three times as long as I normally would have needed to get everything working and I ended up not charging the customer for the entire time as I felt it was my fault that I took so long to get everything working together, and I didn’t really care – I just wanted to get away. Despite the task I found my mind still wandering to Ezri. And they had cats, one of which loves me and spent almost the entire time on my lap, on top of the desk, or trying to play with me. I’m not sure if that made it easier or harder for me.
But eventually I got everything working perfectly, and with a happy family of customers behind me as well as a happy car, I headed to the Walmart to have a photo of Ezri printed and to buy a picture frame and head homeward. The rest of the day was something I don’t remember much of.
Hopefully someday we can lick cancer, for humans and pets. My mother died of it, as well as Riker our Rottweiler and my wife’s grandfather and, well, need I go on? If you’re reading this then you’ve had someone affected by it. So consider donated to cancer research if possible, any research into curing it for humans will of course help our animals also.
Fortunately the dogs and Hoshi didn’t seem to have any lasting effect from watching Ezri pass away but Spock had come over to smell her when she passed away, and then had run away. Yesterday he acted a bit standoffish with me, though we still had our regular play session in the morning. But when I would reach down to pet him during the day he’d lower his head and ears. And normally he would be in the bedroom when we were getting ready for bed but he wasn’t last night until much later, and even then he let me play with him a bit but not much. For the last few nights since Ezri has been gone he hasn’t slept on the bed once, and normally he always is up there during the night, spending the entire night at my feet. Mornings when we get our coffee he’s usually up on his back legs with his front paws on my legs to get my attention, something he hasn’t been doing. I feel badly that he witnessed what happened as it apparently has affected him and his relationship with me, I can only imagine what he was thinking or feeling when he saw me holding Ezri and her passing away or what might have gone through his mind about Ezri disappearing.
Not trying to anthropomorphize but there can be no question that he’s acting differently. That’s heart-breaking in it’s own way. But I’m sure with time it will be fine – for both of us.
Jennifer also wrote a blog entry about Ezri, it’s been hard on both of us.
I am going to miss Ezri so much, and it just hasn’t seemed to sink in. No more Ezri jumping up in my lap at the computer. No more seeing her lying on Jenny’s computer chair to my right, while I work. No more seeing her sleeping on the back of the lounge chair in the computer room behind me. No more Ezri waiting in the doorway when I make lunch or dinner and meowing when she meets my eye so that I go in and turn on the faucet for her, then lifting her up to the sink. She will never be laying beside me on the couch while we watch TV and will never again bury her sweet little face in my hand. No more Ezri waiting on the sink in the bathroom when we get ready for bed so that I would pet her and turn on the water. She won’t be laying across my lap as I eat dinner, quietly laying there and not begging or anything. She won’t be sleeping at my feet any more on the bed. She won’t be climbing under the covers and staying hours underneath stretched out to her entire length against me, when it gets cold. No more reaching down to pet her as she would lay on the back of the couch or in a chair asleep, and having her wake suddenly and then realize that it is me and opening her mouth in a silent meow of acknowledgement and enjoyment at the petting.
So it’s been a hard couple of days.
Today I buried Ezri beside our other beloved pet family members – B’elanna, Maxi, Tucker, Riker, and the rats and the ferrets. Ezri was buried wrapped in a soft towel with one of her toys, a little wild catnip from the yard wrapped up with her.
There are a few bushes, some flowering bushes, and a tree nearby – all of which will absorb some of Ezri as time passes and let her continue to live on a little bit there, as well as always in our memories. I like to think of the grass and these trees and bushes absorbing some of Ezri, and mixing it all together along with Maxi, Riker, Tucker, and the rest so that they can be together a little in some way. There are some who are gone and whom I wish could be there too; like Katie, Cindy, Tiger, Seven, Lucky, and others.
I wish I could believe in the rainbow bridge idea but I can’t bring myself to conceive in that any more than heaven or any of the other philosophical and metaphysical concepts of the afterlife.
I can only believe what I know for sure – that we gave a beautiful little cat a beautiful and loving and safe life in a loved household, with plenty of food and water and toys and warmth and companionship and love every moment of every day.
I love you, Ezri.