The Love and Loss of Our Cat, Scooter
Everyone knows now that I met Henry through the randomness of a text. What you don’t know is that I had another love come into my life through my willingness to be present to a different random moment.
Something over 15 years ago, my then husband and my stepdaughter, Jamie, and I went to the Humane Society to find our next cat. There had been some conversation about the cat being Jamie’s. I was reserving my thoughts around that, knowing, in the end, who would take care of the cat. So we stood at the door of the kitten room sorting through the fur balls. There was one that caught our eye. It had spiky hair and it was sort of a spiky little thing, leaping up and down with fun energy. While we speculated, we noticed a sort of bigger kitten, all black and white with a funny half mustache, who’d been sleeping in the back corner milk crate. This kitten woke up and walked right to the front of the room and proceeded to rub along the glass door separating us. I noticed he seemed to be focused on us. What truly struck me was when i walked out of the room and around to the adoption deck, he followed me and stood with his little front feet up on the ledge looking at me through the glass wall.
This cat was mine. His name would be Scooter and soon after he came home, a friend stopped by and upon hearing his name, recalled a snack cake from his youth and pronounced him “Scooter-Pie” and the name stuck!
What began as being in the presence of this seemingly random but clearly very intentional circumstance continued over the next 15 years. I started noticing that if I woke up during the night he would jump up on the bed within a few minutes. Even if I hadn’t moved. This happened without fail over and over and over again. Sometimes I would wait intentionally to see if he really would know I was awake. He would.
Poor little guy, over the years Scooter had all sorts of health problems. At the beginning he had food allergies, to the point of scratching a hole in his face. It took considerable patience to find just the right food for him. He got hit by a car once and had to have hip surgery. When they did the X-rays they told me that he had a heart condition and it might give out on him one day out of the blue and cautioned me against doing the hip surgery. We did it. He lived! Once many years later, he stopped eating and he had to have an operation which inserted a feeding tube down his throat to his stomach. He recovered within a week and was good as new! Then came a diagnosis of diabetes and many years of insulin shots. This past December our pet sitter accidentally gave him a nearly lethal overdose of insulin which he valiantly came back from only to have a thyroid tumor show up and he endured a treatment of radioactive iodine resulting in a week of solitary confinement. Not long after that he seemed to be giving up. He was so lethargic and I was terrified.
But being in the awareness of the moment again, I was in a co-worker’s office and picked up a magazine on her desk and opened it to the tabbed page. It happened to be an article about how a man had a diabetic dog who was not responding to insulin and was so lethargic he appeared to be dying. The man had a dream one night about specific combination of supplements and foods that would end up saving the dogs life. I immediately started researching what I could be feeding Scooter and miraculously it saved his life as well! Over this past summer Scooter was diagnosed with pancreatitis and again I found the supplements to help him recover…again!
My favorite Scooter story of all was when he had disappeared for 3 days. I walked the neighborhood, talked to neighbors, called him and couldn’t find him. I left food out for him which went untouched. On the third day on my way home from work, I spoke to him out loud and said “Scooter, we’re so connected, if you tell me where you are I can find you. Just tell me where you are!” About 4:30 that morning I felt like I “heard” him meowing. Not from my ears though, in my head. I got up and went out on the front porch, looking immediately down to the food I’d left out. In anguish I saw that it was still there, uneaten. Instead of going back to bed though, I sat on the front porch. And in the stillness of the early hour, I thought I “heard” him again. So I walked down our sidewalk and over to the neighbor’s yard. A path I’d taken a dozen times before. But not at 4:30 am. This time, in the stillness of the pre-dawn hour, I then DID hear him. He was locked in our neighbor’s gardening garage and I hadn’t been able to hear him during the day even though I’d walked by the garage so many times. It took me being in tune with him and the willingness to “hear” in a different way for us to be reunited. And boy oh boy were we both happy that morning!!
Scooter was SO FUNNY! He always wanted to be in a box, even if it was way too small for him. He loved his Santa hat and would put his head in it gleefully. He LOVED to eat! He also wanted to be in the middle of everything. And he could sleep like nobody’s business! He was loving, snuggly, squishy, cuddly, funny, silly, playful, curious, goofy, he was our buddy. And he purred. LOUDLY!! I didn’t even have to touch him and he’d purr. He was happy!
We had a big party the first weekend of September to celebrate our wedding. Scooter was right in the middle of everyone. He seemed to have had a terrific time! But shortly after that he seemed to not be feeling very well. Pancreatitis again. Only this time he wouldn’t touch the supplements that had saved his life before. No matter how many delectable foods I tried to hide them in, he just refused. I knew then that we’d reached an end. He started losing the use of his back legs and then I realized i’d been giving him old insulin so I got a new vial…and he seemed to pick up a little but after a few days he just lost the strength in all four legs.
I called the vet to see if he could come to our apartment to take Scooter from our world and we made the appointment. Scooter hung on the next two days. His coat, which over time would get dry and scaly depending on how he was feeling, was glossy and glorious. He ate like a champion and even had one of his famously smelly “Scooter poops” on his last day. And he purred. But his body was failing fast and even as the vet administered the shot that would end his life, his blood pressure was so weak the solution didn’t work the way it was supposed to. And we had to watch as he once again tried to fight once more to stay with us.
If anyone else had adopted Scooter he would have died 6 times ago. But I firmly believe we were meant to be together. That he wanted me to pick him and because I did, he had an amazing life. One that touched not only my life and Henry’s but the lives of all of our friends and neighbors too. He was so funny and lovable and has been mourned by many.
My pain is intense. My loss, horrific. When it’s time to feed our other cats and I’m only getting out two cans instead of three, I sob. When i see the little stairs up to the couch or our bed, my chest tightens. When I’m sitting on the couch writing this and he’s not laying next to me or on my chest, I miss him so badly I don’t know what to do.
My aim as a result of this loss is to slow down. Being someone who has always been so in tune with Henry’s and Scooter’s energies, I want to be able to feel my little man’s energy in the absence of his physical self. So when I wake up in the middle of the night and don’t move, I’ll know he’s just a moment away. And I’ll somehow feel that fat, funny, cuddly, purring, loving presence snuggle right up next to me in total contentment. Hey Scooter-Pie, I’ll murmur. I”m so glad you’re here.