Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cats are People too. Or maybe I'm a cat.

I was a senior in college. I had run out to the local pet store to pick up some food for my Albino African frogs. As I walked down the narrow aisle, I heard a noise. Bbbbripp! I looked around. I heard it again. Bbbbripp! I turned the corner and there sat a cage full of kittens. On the cage was a big sign that read "Free". There were six fluffy long hair kittens all huddled together on the left hand side of the cage. Alone, on the right side, in the litter box, stood a lanky short- hair tiger stripe kitten. She had gray stripes and areas of orange throughout her coat and on her belly. And white paws- like her own little go go boots. I now realized what that noise was. Bbbbripp! She had been calling to me, as if to say "Get me out of here!" As I stood with my fingers poked through the cage, she got more and more excited. “This cat is special," I thought.

I was nervous about introducing her to the menagerie at home. I already had a lop-eared bunny, a male cat, a hamster, four African frogs and a newt. But she did just fine. She and the bunny developed a playful relationship. They even shared a litter box. My other cat was nurturing and kind to her.

From that very first day, she had a habit of riding on my shoulders. I could do the dishes, sweep the floor, do laundry, cook dinner and when I sat down to relax she’d climb down and sit on my lap. We were quite literally inseparable when I was home which meant all of my clothes had little claw marks in them. But it was okay. It was Miss Pin ™.

Miss Pin was not aware that she was a cat. Either that or she thought that everyone else was a cat like her. In any event, it seemed as though she felt that we were all peers and she didn’t seem to distinguish girl from cat, cat from rabbit, rabbit from hamster, hamster from frog. Pin would never chase the hamster when she busted out of the habitrail. She’d only meow loudly to alert me.

In her first years, Pin was an outdoor cat. One day, I was going on a bike ride and Pin meowed to me. Bbbbripp! “I love you Pin!” I replied and went on my way. Three hours later, Pin was in the same place still meowing, only now she was a little hoarse. I walked over and there was an injured bird. I do not believe that she was the cause of this bird’s injury. It appeared to have been hit by a car and she had no interest in further hurting it. Miss Pin had sat there for hours with this bird. Her meow seemed urgent now. “Help this flying cat!” She was saying.

She seemed to miss me when I was gone, as she waited for me by the door. She slept on top of me and woke me every morning. She responded to my conversation. She comforted me when I was sad, which was often. She sat by and groomed me when I was sick, which was often too. And she always made the noise. Bbbbripp! Every time I touched her.

People often commented on the bond we shared. Prospective boyfriends feared her. Cat haters loved her. My girlfriends talked with her just like she was one of us. She was one of us. My friends thought there should be a television show about us…”A Girl and Her Cat”. Or rather, “Two Girls (One’s a Cat)”. We even looked alike.

Miss Pin saw me off on my wedding day. She even knew when I was pregnant, though my doctor told me I was not. When my water broke in the middle of the night, Miss Pin woke me up. She was frantic, like the expectant parent running around, looking for a bucket of hot water. And when the baby arrived, she was gentle, patient and with boundaries. She would circle me when the baby was crying as if to tell me she wanted to help. She sat on my shoulders as I nursed. And always, she made her noise. Bbbbripp!

One morning in the fall of 2006, my husband woke me up to tell me that Miss Pin was hiding in the basement and wouldn’t come out to eat. She came out for me. She jumped on my shoulders. Something was different. She felt different. I took her to the vet and after a week of testing and many ups and downs, we had our diagnosis. She had advanced intestinal lymphoma. The doctor told me that if they were to operate, she’d need a blood transfusion first because she was dangerously anemic. They believed that her intestines were so badly damaged, there would be no real hope with surgery- that she would probably die on the table...alone. They also told me that if I took her home for the night, she would die from her anemia. She had compensated for her illness so much, her decline was very subtle. She always remained happy and affectionate, and she always made her noise for me. Bbbbripp! She was very brave.

I was facing one of my biggest fears, losing Miss Pin. I always vowed that I would do anything to keep Pin with me, but I looked in her eyes and realized that I’d only be doing it for myself. It was Miss Pin’s time to go but I had to let her go. She made her noise. Bbbbripp! I stayed with her while she passed. It was quick, as they say, but very painful…for me.

Before Miss Pin was euthanized, my husband looked me square in the eye. “When she passes, she will jump right into your heart. I promise.” You know what? I think I felt it happen.

I still miss her terribly and expect her to run to the door when I get home and jump on my shoulders. Sometimes, it feels like she is here and I can almost hear her. Bbbbripp! And I can always feel her in my heart. I don’t like to say that our human friends are extensions of us. They are reflections. But I have this feeling that Pin was an extension of me. At least, if we were not one, we were exactly the same in spirit. I am the luckiest girl in the world that Miss Pin chose me that day in the pet store.

Losing Miss Pin was my motivation for completing my children's book about pet loss and euthanasia called It's Okay to Cry and It's Okay to Say Goodbye ©2007. I wrote the text of the book back in 1994 when I lost my cat Dennis, but the topic was too difficult for me and I let it sit for over a decade. I hope that my book can help those who face difficult decisions faced when a pet becomes ill. I completed the book exactly one year to the day of Miss Pin's passing. I had a renewed interest in my work again. I suddenly felt the need to begin creating again.

So, that's how our Etsy shop got its name, Miss Pin Productions.


jewelstreet said...

That's so sad and so sweet all at the same time.

High Desert Diva said...

Wow! Saying Miss Pin sounds like a wonderful, special cat, doesn't really cover it, does it?

Is your book published?

I think I'm in love with your husband, btw. That jumping into your heart comment made me cry.

Miss Pin Productions said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. To answer you question about publishing, I am so overwhelmed by the process, I do not know where to begin. It seems that the market is so oversaturated that there are no companies looking for new authors, especially those with completed works. And yes, my husband is a dream!

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

wow. this totally brought tears to my eyes and i can completely relate. i don't have the ability with words that you do, but can say that my shop name also comes from my kitty girl, Jinx. I also got her when I was in college. She was more than just my cat. She died a few years ago now and I still miss her and think about her, and reading this brought all those feelings back.

Miss Pin Productions said...

kitty grrlz, I am so sorry for your loss. Our stories are very similar then, eh? I know the pain you experienced with the loss of Jinx. Thank you for your kind words.

Bella Rosa said...

What a great story! Isn't it amazing the connections we can form with our kitties?! I have an 18 year old cat that I have had since I was 10! He's my faithful buddy.

Hobocamp Crafts said...

what a touching story, Miss Pin sounds adorable and wonderful! I think we've all had our own Miss Pin's and I know just how difficult it can be. Thank you for sharing this!

Rachel said...

wow, kismet that you're the only one who left me a comment today :o)

love animals...been through newts, salamanders, hamsters, african clawed frogs and other frogs, collection now is snakes and lizards :)

Rachel said...

aww, I just got to finish the story. That's so sweet!

I would always believe in trying all you can but know sometimes letting them go rather than suffer with no hope is best. My sister went through that with her kitten last year. Within a month or 2 she rescued 2 cats that had no homes, they are very friendly.

She'll always be special. Good luck when you're ready to find a new friend though :o)

igotmoxie said...

aww...this totally made me cry.

michelle said...

this brought tears to my eyes and made me go seek out my kitty, Miles. Such a great meaning behind a name!

Miss Pin Productions said...

Thanks everyone so much for your kind words and support!

UniqueNurseGranny said...

So touching and so real.The book is an excellent idea.

Occidental Girl said...

Such a sweet tale of companionship! I loved it. My Dakota is 14 and I know there's not a lot of time left. He's a wonderful kitty. I will look for your book, then. I'm going to need it. I'm sorry for your loss of Miss Pin.

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly! Lady where did you come from? I had no idea you wrote a book like this!Your experience with MissPin is so familiar...

I got Rudy when my sister had too many kids on her hands to really give him all he needed. It was perfect timing - I was in a bad place and having something bgger than myself to think about changed my life and who I was.

When Rudy got ill, he first had a limp - we put it down to a hiking injury becuase it went away. Stupid stupid bad mother didnt' take him to the doctor's right then. I know now that they woudl have probably missed it too, but that never makes me feel less like a bad caretaker.
But then it came back and wouldn't go and by the time the docs figured out what it was, it was too late. He had to have hidden the worst of it for so long...multiple myeloma growing tumors in his ribs and back.And it was so fast (I had always prayed the end would be quick, but I didn't really imagine how taken by surprise I would be by the aggressiveness of it)
It was 6 weeks from the first non-confirming x-rays to the end and I scrabbled desperately at any little hope. There wasn't any hope and he died, surrounded by me, my BF, my sister and her son Ryan, who was Rudy' boy. Ryan now wears a bullet on a chain around his neck with rudy's ashes in it. I have mine on my keychain. He is only 12 and it was really brave of him to be with Rudy when the vet came.
My sister (who was his first mom) wrote a great thing about him and how many people he touched and how he worked at the hospital and made so many people happy.He was like a local celebrity among the veterans and staff. The last week, when I stayed home and moved downstairs to be with him, he had a steady stream of visitors - none really coming to console me so much as to make sure they got some quality time in with him before he left us.
I couldn't and still can't do anything about him without crying. He was my best friend - we went everywhere together. If he wasn't wanted, I didn't want to go.
It's great that you wrote a book like that - sometime people don't get how hard it is.
My sister's minister told her
"Heaven would not be heaven unless it has all the things that mean something to us."
Not to sound morbid, but I could die tomorrow and I woudl be OK with it if Rudy was going to be there.

Thanks for that post - it was cathartic to say the least :)

Miss Pin Productions said...


And now I am crying. Thank you for your beautiful thoughtful response. Sometimes, it's just good to cry but be very certain that Rudy is still looking out for you. I bet if you try really hard, you can even smell him!