Phoebe the Water Cat
Phoebe was the nicest, sweetest, calmest cat ever to give me a gashing wound.
Elizabeth found Phoebe in a cat carrier in a park in Dayton. She had been abandoned. Why anyone would abandon this cat is beyond my imagination; she was beautiful and she was friendly. I'm glad that whoever abandoned her did so because otherwise I would never have known this wonderful little cat.
Phoebe fit in well with Percy, Hermes, Cosmo, and (when mama cat gave her to Elizabeth) Chloe. Then Elizabeth lived where cats weren't allowed. Cosmo had died but we took in Percy, Hermes, Phoebe, and Chloe.
In mid 2010, Phoebe couldn't walk. She dragged herself from one place to another and we thought this was the end for her. Cortisone fixed her paralysis but exacerbated her propensity for diabetes. And we found a large lump on her right breast.
By November the diabetes was sufficiently under control that we could schedule her for surgery to remove the lump. A cat with this kind of cancer can be expected to live for 12 to 18 months.
Phoebe recovered and spent the next year eating well, enjoying sunshine, and being part of the family. And despite severe arthritis in her spine she managed to get around and to climb into the bathtub so she could catch drips of water. She never tired of that game.
In November 2011 we noticed another lump on her left side. Blood tests showed that her blood sugar level was more than 400 when normal is less than 100. Diabetes would probably kill her before the cancer would. She was 12 or 13 years old then so we decided to let nature take its course. This is what I would want for myself, I think, because sometimes medical intervention just brings more pain and suffering.
We put her on a high-protein diet and she ate ravenously and no longer looked like a starving kitty. It was a short-term improvement, though. A few months later, she was clearly failing again, becoming thin and eating less.
On February 11, she was clearly failing and I thought about taking her for a final visit with The Cat Doctor but she seemed not to be in pain. A day later, she had stopped eating and her respiration was both shallow and rapid. She no longer wanted to be held. The time had come for her final trip to The Cat Doctor.
But Monday morning she was dead.
Even in death she seemed to be considerate, selecting a location that was out of the way to lie down for her final nap. She appears to have gone peacefully, quietly, and (I hope) without pain.
Phoebe loved to have her head scratched and, even when old and sick, she could always be counted on to be the first to arrive at a scrap of dropped ham, turkey, or chicken, devour it, and ask for more before her younger, faster colleagues even noticed that something might be available.
When she wanted to snuggle, Phoebe would claw her way up onto the bed and tap me on the shoulder. Gently. That was one of the remarkable things about Phoebe: She was one of the happiest and most friendly cats I have known. When she wanted something (a head scratch, for example) she would politely tap with her paw, razor-sharp claws carefully retracted.
The only words I have for the person who abandoned her are these: Thank you.
Phoebe was a cat who took whatever life gave her with grace. She will be missed.
Oh, about the wound: After feeding the cats one morning I accidentally stepped on her tail and Phoebe did what cats do when something hurts them: Howl and slash. Phoebe had extraordinarily sharp claws. The wound took months to heal and I still have a scar.
I'll think of her every time I see it.