At 1 a.m., I stood in the field with my family and a friend of my daughter’s (who was spending the night) in the middle of a kitten funeral for Sookie Bell, our teacup kitty. Earlier that day, I noticed how lethargic Sookie was, and yet at the same time, how happy. She slept in our hands and purred constantly. Worrying that she could be fading, I took her to the vet, where she seemed to liven up a bit, especially while eating some high-calorie, prescription cat food.
But come evening, she took to sleeping much more, and sometime in the middle of the grand finale of the kind of movie you don’t want to be watching when your cat is dying — 2012 (which our daughter said we had to see because the science was so bad and the special effects so good) — we realized she could no longer stand on her tiny paws. We stopped the movie and came upstairs where our family turned itself into a kitty hospice unit, brushing Sookie’s dry mouth with water, holding and loving her, talking to her, and watching her breaths get further and further apart.
After close to two hours, with Sookie lying in my hands and staring her beautiful blue eyes into mine, I realized her breaths were close to 12 seconds apart, and each breath a combination gasp-purr. Eventually another breath didn’t come. This is the same dying I witnessed in our cat Saul (who lived to be 20) and my father — so ordinary, so peaceful.
We found a taco shell box (family pack size), lined it with a soft towel, put Sookie in and covered her with a mini-kitty blanket (e.g. hand-made potholder) and carried her outside where Ken dug the hole, we placed her in, and then each told her we loved her and wished her well on her journey.
It’s hard to reconcile the sadness I feel, we all feel, with the reality that she lived with us for three days. Yet live she did, purring often and utterly delighted to have been taken into our home. She had been starving on the farm where she spent her life beforehand, maybe because the other kittens nudged her away from the food or maybe because she was born with a congenital defect. In any case, we fell in love with this tiny kitty, and we miss her terribly already. Rest in peace, Sookie. And traveling mercies to you.