Monday, March 18, 2019

Little friends

On Friday March 1, 2019, when I arrived in Nashville after that taxing drive through the northwest Georgia mountains I noticed that our golden cat Cody had not been eating his wet cat food.  The cat sitter had come the day before and his food was still there.  Our other cat, the grey Mitsouko, only eats dry cat food.  Seeing that Cody barely ate or moved I took him to the veterinarian for tests.  The tests showed that he was going through acute kidney failure with poor prognostic.  Unfortunately he died on Wednesday 6 March, 2019.  We loved that cat very much.  At the end of my husband's illness he would sit for hours with Cody on his laps.  After my husband's death 5 months ago having Cody also leave has been very hard.

People who do not have pets may not appreciate how particularly difficult it is to lose a cherished pet.  A pet is an integral part of the family, someone we see every day - and for Cody it had been every day for fifteen years.  My husband and I adopted Cody from the Cobb County animal shelter in Georgia in 2004 when he was 2 years old; he passed at 17 years old (about 84 years in human life.)  He was a special and beautiful cat with soft fur and limpid green eyes.  He was very affectionate and would purr constantly.  The first few days after his passing I did not do much, could not do much, did not want to do much but feel sad at the loss of my furry friend.  I have no friends in Nashville yet and after my husband's death my two cats brought me emotional support.  I know Mitsouko misses Cody as well because she meows more and keeps looking for him.  Not long ago there were four of us, two humans and two cats - now there is just Mitsouko and me and the house feels so empty.

Cody has been shown in my posts often.  I even wrote a post about him in 2009 "Cody: my post helper."  Every morning he would meow loudly for his food - I shall miss that.  The bond between Cody and me was deep - he was my little friend.  Last Friday, March 15, it was time again to drive to Georgia.  This time I brought Mitsouko with me.  I was afraid she would be too lonely without Cody in Nashville.  Here I have many old print photos still.  I decided to ease the pain by looking at all the little friends I have had among the years - a way to celebrate them.  As far as I can remember there always was at least a pet close by.  When I was a little girl growing up in Paris, France, we had a dog - here with me when I was four years old, shown below.  Then it was our boxer, who went with me for walks in the forest, below with me when I was eleven years old.  In San Francisco in the apartment I could not have dogs or cats, so I had pet birds.  My parakeet, Dimitri, could talk and flew freely in the rooms.  After I married we had a cockatiel, Diego, seen below on the shoulder of my yellow outfit.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

When we moved near Philadelphia, in Ardmore, for my husband to study for his master's degree in environmental planning at the University of Pennsylvania, we adopted our first cat, Pearl.  She was a chocolate point Siamese.  Our little girl dotted on her.

We also had dogs.  Our first was a Kuvasz, a white sheep style breed from Hungary.  He was not well socialized and bit our youngest daughter, so we gave him away.  We then had a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a hound from South Africa.  He was a sweet dog but destructive.  He tore up all the linoleum floor in our kitchen, the draperies in our den, our daughters coats, shoes and stuffed toys.  He was sent to a farm in Hiawassee in the North Georgia mountains for more open spaces.  Then a Doberman Pinscher adopted us.  She came to our door one winter and did not want to leave.  We tried to find her owners, but no one claimed her.  We kept her for many years and called her Sheba, she is on the bottom right, with our youngest daughter.

When we moved to Cobb County, Georgia, the house had a little barn with chickens - the results of a 4H program worked on by the son of the previous owner.  We knew nothing about chicken and borrowed a book from the library on chicken rearing and breeds.  We added to the flock with some special breed chickens, like bantams.  They became the pets of our daughters.  I had to watch the girls because in winter they would try to sneak the little chickens into their bedrooms so they would not be cold ... We kept the chickens for a long time and distributed surplus eggs to many of our neighbors.

After Pearl we had several other cats.  I don't have all of their photographs.  We had a Manx, a Maine Coon and others.  Our daughter Celine adopted a Himalayan cat, Alphie.  He was offered for sale at a cat show we attended in Montgomery, Alabama, and Celine fell in love with the little ball of fur.  He is below on the roof of my Fuego Renault, then with our youngest in the black dress, and its owner, our eldest daughter in the blue top.

When I flew back home to Paris to visit my mother I also would see her pet cat Minou.  Mother suffered from Parkinson's disease and Minou was a great companion for her.  Although I had to be careful as she was always trying to hide into my suitcase...

Celine adopted a grey Persian, Caj, and our youngest daughter adopted a stray kitten, Miles.  At the time we also had a cat I had rescued from outside a bookstore as a tiny kitten, Miska, then a Burmese, Khali and a Somali, Puma.  I scanned the old print photos but they are not very clear.

Our family loves animals.  On trips my husband and I would often stop to pet animals we would have enjoyed as pets, but could not take home, such as those below.  My late husband is below at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina and at the Berry College farm of Rome, Georgia.  My pictures were taken in Taman Buaya, Indonesia, with a wild little friend.

Our daughters took their pets with them when they moved into an apartment.  Our youngest daughter is more of a dog person though and has had many dogs.  A couple of years ago she sheltered several puppies for a while.  We visited her at the time and my husband was overjoyed to play with the puppies.  My daughter kept the little white puppy, shown in the center bottom photo below.

In 1997 I adopted a little Korat - a breed from Thailand.  They are a living symbol of luck and prosperity there, often given as a wedding present.  I named her Mitsou.  She was a sweetheart.  Here she is as a kitten below with my husband's Somali, Puma and also with me.

The Somali are long haired Abyssinian cats.  Puma came from Baltimore.  His family moved to Atlanta and could not keep him so we adopted him, as an adult.  He formed a special bond with my husband.  When Puma died my husband was grief stricken.  Several months later we visited the Cobb County animal shelter where we saw Cody.  Cody had the same coat color as Puma so my husband was keen on taking him home.  We did so and he lived happily with us for fifteen years until early this month.  When Mitsou died I was also heartbroken and a year later I adopted another Korat from a breeder in Atlanta, who I called Mitsouko after my original Mitsou.  She is six years old now and is here with me in Georgia. (Below Cody and Mitsouko in the Georgia house last year.)

Pets have been great companions for me all those years.  They have added a lot of happiness and love to our family.  Even with the pain of losing them I can't imagine living without a cat - they love you unconditionally.  Each one has its own individuality and is a joy to watch.  My life would have been empty without my cats, such great little friends bringing so much joy.  Here are three quotations on cats -

"Petit à petit, les chats deviennent l'âme de la maison" - Jean Cocteau, French poet, artist, writer, film maker, 1889-1963/ "Little by little cats become the soul of the house."  Below Le Chat, 1959, by Jean Cocteau

"Le temps passé avec un chat n'est jamais perdu"  - Colette, French author, 1873-1954 / "Time spent with a cat is never wasted."

"When I am feeling low, all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns."  - Charles Bukowski, German-born American poet and novelist, 1920-1994.

Cody, 2002-2019


Christine said...

I empathise so much with you reading through this post. Life is very empty when a pet of any kind dies. It feels like a link to your husband has been severed but, I believe, that you must take heart that they are together again. I think you did the right thing to bring Mitsouka home with you.
Our cat is 19 years old this year, has one working kidney.... we wonder about the future....
Thank you for sharing

Linda P said...

I'm so sorry to hear that your much loved Cody has died and I know that you'll miss him very much as will Mitsouko. He was a beautiful looking cat and a good age. You've a good record of all your pets and they were part of a family who appreciated animals. It has been interesting looking at each of your cats, dogs and birds that you had and took to your heart through the years whilst remembering the family pets that we have had wherever we have lived. Now we don't have any because of our lifestyle of travel, but would have a dog or cat again if we were more settled in one place. Take care dear blog friend.

DJan said...

My family when I was growing up always had plenty of dogs and cats. I loved them all, but I think I am more partial to dogs these days rather than cats. I don't have either at the present time. I sure enjoyed looking at your furry companions over the years. The pictures are priceless. I'm sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing all these friends with me, VB. I send you my love over the miles between us. Peace to you, dear friend.

Dewena said...

This was heartbreaking and I'm so very sorry you have lost your beautiful Cody. I guess all of us who love our cats and dogs and have gone through this understand how completely devastating it is for you. Even though we have since adopted two more dachshunds, the two that passed away in the fall of 2017 are still a hole in our heart and I can hardly bear to think about that time. Both of them died from kidney failure and it is a terrible way to lose them.

It is so clear from your photographs and the stories behind them that your special pets were always so dear to you, even from a young age. I understand the need to write about them and I know that all of us who feel as you do find the same comfort from that. They are family.

There is nothing I can say that helps much, I know. But please know that I understand and my heart goes out to you. And to Mitsouko.

Thérèse said...

Tout un petit monde qui t'accompagne dans les souvenirs et dans la vie. Il me prend à penser souvent à eux. J'aimais tellement voir nos chiens dans les bras de nos garçons par terre, un moyen pour eux, adolescents, de se blottir et de noyer leurs pensées ce qu'ils ne pouvaient plus faire dans les bras de leurs parents...
De merveilleuses photos accompagnent tes mots.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, Sorry about the loss of your furry friend. Given your husbands recent passing, it has to be especially sad... We've had many cats over the years but not as many as you have. When I was growing up we mostly had dogs but after my mother's second husband died, we always had cats. Other than one tomcat who lost an eye in a fight with a muskrat and then didn't see a car coming, most of the boy cats died from renal failure. Having to put them down is always a miserable experience. In time, perhaps you can welcome another cat into your home in Nashville... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Roderick Robinson said...

There's an Odyssey-like quality to all this, but without the unpleasant bits. Very moving.

Glenda Beall said...

Like you, I have had pets all my life, dogs, cats and also horses. My husband rescued a pup that had been abandoned. He named him Rocky and they were best buddies. My husband died in 2009 and I lost Rocky soon after. I understand your grief. Barry also had a cat we rescued. She was always in his lap. She missed her master and then her best friend, Rocky. The dog would lick her and she would roll over and purr. Now they are all gone and I was heartbroken for a long time. But finally I rescued my little Chi-mix, Lexie and my life is complete again. I have that unconditional love. Reading your post, I thought you might like to read my recent book: Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins; Family Pets and God's other Creatures. It is available as an e-book on Kindle or paper back from me. Our pets are family and each of them has his own personality and relationship with us. Bless you and my deepest condolences for the loss of your beloved cat.

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
I'm very sorry you lost your furry friend that lived in your family for many years. I understand your grief well, because our pets become family members and we know them well and they know us, our habits. I liked watching the photos of pets and especially of you, dear. How you've been young and how beautiful! Now we're old and need truly friends as pets.
If I'm not wrong, your birthday is March 26th. I wish you to keep being young in your soul, active and all good that you want.

Joared said...

So sort for your pet loss — always so hard we’ve had such loving memories. A lovely collect of photos and your furry friends.

Marja said...

So sorry to hear about your cat Yes pets are great companions and it's hard to loose them Take care. We never had dogs as we are often away. We always had two cats and lost one last year but soon we get a new kitten which is still with it's mother. You had some gorgeous pets over the years Loved seeing all these pictures.

Jeanie said...

Life has kept me from coming to this post for awhile so I apologize for the delay. As you know from our email, I am so deeply sad for your loss of Cody. You are spot on about how pets are more than merely animals but part of our lives, our companions and our comforters and saying goodbye so suddenly and so soon after your husband's death is gut wrenching to me.

I am so glad you took Mitsouko with you to Georgia and that you found and shared these beautiful photos of all the pets you've loved and the people with whom you have loved them. I enjoyed seeing beautiful you as a child, your husband and daughters and the animals that have been part of their lives. I think those you adopted found a warm and loving home with you -- I certainly know Cody did.

I send big cyber hugs across the miles to you.

Shammickite said...

Good bye to Cody, what a sweet cat. We miss our pets so much when they are gone. Thank you for the journey showing me all your beloved furry friends. I have had many cats and dogs and even horses through the years. No more now, even though I would like a cat, my DIL is very allergic to cat fur and she could never visit me.... so no cats for me.

claude said...

Quelle jolie publication, Vagabonde !
On les aime tous nos petits compagnons à poils.
Mon Chéri et moi avons décidé de ne plus avoir de chats pour la simple et bonne raison que toux ceux qu'on a eu se sont fait écraser sur la route. Plus de chien non plus car c'est un problème quand on part en voyage. Peut-être plus tard quand nous ne bougerons plus, un petit chien sera le bienvenu.
Je t'embrasse.

Magic Love Crow said...

I am so sorry my friend! Truly sorry! Cody was a beautiful fur baby! I know how hard it is when a fur baby passes away! This is such a beautiful tribute to all the animals that have been in your life! Sending you Big Loving Hugs!!

Jenny Woolf said...

I am so sorry to hear that Cody has died, and you must feel very sad at that loss so soon after losing your husband. What a lot of lovely pets you have had, and such a variety! Your mother's cat Minou was particularly beautiful. Maybe you'll someday feel like accepting another older pet into your home, one who was used to a family life and then ended up in a shelter. Those were the ones that touched my heart when I went to see the wonderful shelter in Kefalonia.

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