"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My NY Times cat is dying

I'm not a cat person, ever since a cat jumped on my face, even before first grade. Something, maybe my dog, had chased it up the top of a clothesline pole in far southeast Fort Worth, when I was four or five years old. We all gathered round, trying to coax the frightened animal down, and it jumped, right onto my face, claws out.

Years later, I'm not too fond of cats. We've had cats, from time to time, and most of them have met tragic ends, from under car engines or wheels, or whatever. My daughter loves cats, and one of the deals for moving to Stillwater was to get a cat. We did from a shelter, a long haired white cat, and she was my daughter's favorite, living a long time, until a car incident many years later.

There are other cat stories through the years, but I am a "dog person" still.

But now, my step-cat, Crystal, my New York Times cat, is dying.

She's only about 10 years old, and she climbs up on my lap every Sunday morning, on a leather couch, as I read the Sunday Times and look out the front door. She's done that for more than three years. It's part of my Sunday ritual.

She's been losing weight, and after an expensive trip to the vet this week, she's almost shut down, not moving, lethargic. No more interest in playing with a string, no more climbing on your lap, no more wanting to be scratched under her chin at nighttime.

I've seen this before, in my mother, in more than one favorite dog. They know the end is near.

What can you do? Whisper in their ear that you love them, that you will miss them, that they're special. You touch them, you caress, you tell them special words, you reassure that they're loved and part of you, you cry in your own way

It isn't easy, even for someone who isn't a "cat person." You don't want anyone to hurt, ever. That's the kind of treatment you want when your time comes. Not to die alone, but loved, touched by those who matter.

I don't know how much longer Crystal has. I hope she lasts till Sunday and another NY Times. But I don't want her to suffer. Years and tears are flowing in the house. Part of us is leaving.

The Times will be emptier this Sunday, I fear.

A cat is dying.

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