Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 7375
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 29th. 2003
by Peg Aloi
In a year full of loss, another dear one passes...
Sadly, this week I bid farewell to one of my dearest friends and companions, one of the finest cats that ever lived: Ziggy. This handsome grey and white cat with a distinguished pink nose was known by many nicknames in his 16-plus years, including Ziggy-boo, Zig-ma-roo, Ziggledy-Wiggledy, The Zig-Meister, Uncle Ziggy, General Ziggy, and Hey Buddy. He was a great lover of the outdoors and loved to go a-wandering; in fact, on several occasions in his younger years when he lived in western Massachusetts, his wanderings led to his being adopted temporarily by new owners!
Ziggy was very friendly and loved new people, and when his wanderlust took him a few blocks from home, well-meaning strangers would take him in and give him lots of love and toys, only to see a couple of days later a flyer pasted up in their neighborhood saying "Have you seen this Cat?" They'd call me, confused, saying "I think I/we have your cat, but he didn't seem lost." Ziggy was always happy to come home but those who had "owned" him briefly were very sorry to see him go! They usually said they now needed to get cats of their own, since "owning" him briefly had been such a pleasure...all of us who have loved our animal companions, know there is no comparable feeling in the world to sharing this bond. No words, no emotional baggage: just basic needs, simple trust and unconditional love. Oh, if all relationships were this pure!
About five years ago, Ziggy was hit by a car in my neighborhood and had a severe back injury. He was rescued by two neighbors who found him early one morning when I was out of town visiting friends for the night. His rescuers kindly rushed him to an emergency veterinary hospital, paid for his entry deposit, and called to make sure I knew where to find him when I returned home. He could not move his back legs, had trouble eating, could not use his bowels, and spent a whole week in intensive care. The vets said he probably would not make it, and that even if he did he might never walk again. I was heartbroken, but kept visiting him and hoping he'd pull through. The hospital let me take him home, and warned if he did not start eating on his own within 24 hours, I'd have to bring him back so they could insert a feeding tube. He made it with a half hour to spare; licking some yummy food from my hand and seeming happy to be home, if weak and groggy. Within a week he was pulling himself around by his front legs, though I kept him in a rabbit cage (donated by more kind neighbors) when I was out so he would not injure himself. I had to express his bladder for him, but he soon grew to hate THAT and was able to urinate on his own within a couple of days. He grew stronger but still could not walk. Then a friend performed Reiki on him, and by the next day he could move one back leg, then by the following day he could nearly stand, and within a week he was walking, then running, then jumping and playing. With the caring and generosity of many friends, the Great Ziggy pulled through, and we all enjoyed more precious years of his unique personality and companionship.
In the last three weeks or so, Ziggy had lost weight and his back legs were failing him. He seemed happy and was eating, but clearly something was wrong. Tests from the vet revealed liver difficulty and anemia, which they said may have meant lymphoma. The recovery rate in a cat his age is not usually very high. But I never really found out exactly what was wrong, as he died rather suddenly just three days after his vet visit. Ziggy seemed to know his time was near: the night before he died, he had not come to sleep next to me as he did every night, and he did not appear in the morning when I fed breakfast to my other kitties. It had been hard for him to jump up on my bed recently, so I had started sleeping on a mattress on the floor to make this easier for him, and though he used to just walk around my head a dozen or so times, his latest thing was to merely lay very close and rest his chin on my cheek, so I could feel him purring. But that last night, after he tried but failed to jump up on the sofa with me, and after I gently lifted him up so he could sit there for a while, I did not see him again until I found him, still warm but the life gone from him, near the back door, trying to get outside where he had always loved to be. I am very sad that he died alone, but I think he chose to do this, as many animals do, whether because that is their natural tendency or because in their pain they do not know what else to do. I am also sad that his time came so suddenly, because I had hoped to help him live out his last years, whatever illness befell him, in peace and comfort. But it was not to be.
Still. I believe Ziggy had a wonderful life, full of adventure. He was admired and loved by every person who met him. He "ruled" the other cats in his cat tribe with gentleness and wisdom and humor. I feel honored to have been with him for the years we had together. I try to remember all the joy, the love, the playfulness and aliveness of him.
Sleep well, my buddy, with the sunshine on your fur and gentle breezes blowing on your face, birds to watch and mice to chase and soft green meadows for sleeping and exploring... Tell all the animal friends who have crossed over, we miss them and hope to be with them again...
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December, 1st.. 2003
Email: [Staff Email]
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