No One Gets Out of Here Alive. Is that the Lesson?

In 2009, when I first began writing my MFA thesis about people who work with death in their professions, I also wrote about my own experience with death, which at the time was limited to my cats.  My last mentor thought it was kind of ridiculous to equate a pet’s death to that of a human, but I know a few pet owners who would beg to differ.  At one time, I had four cats living with me—Spooky, Binky, Larry and Penny.  Penny was the youngest cat (11) and she was the first to die.  I came home from work and found her foaming at the mouth and struggling to breathe.  I freaked out and my husband took her to the vet.  After an xray, it was discovered that she had several tumors in her lungs.  We made the horrendously difficult decision to end her life that night.

Four years later, my 15 year-old cat Larry began to urinate outside the box which was the first sign that something was wrong.  He was going through liver failure.  We also made the decision to end his life.  While I didn’t go to the vet for Penny, I took Larry in.  He loved nothing more than to be brushed, so as he cowered on my lap I brushed him to calm him down.  The vet couldn’t find a vein, so she said it would be best if I left the room as she would have to administer the shot into his heart. 

A few months later, Binky, Larry’s sister succumbed to the hyperthyroidism that we had treated her for for years.  Out of all my cats, she was my favorite.  She was a rotund Calico who was snuggly and social and would face off with any dog that dared enter the house.  When we took her to the vet, I stayed for the first injection, but I couldn’t be with her for the final one.  It was just too painful.

After Binky, the only cat that remained was Spooky, my oldest.  At 20 years old, he stopped eating and hid behind the TV.  I knew he was ready to go and it broke my heart.  I’d had that cat for half of my life and when he died, I vowed to never own another cat.  It was too difficult to lose them. 

When I went to pick up Spooky’s ashes, I met Judy and fell in love.  Despite the fear of another loss, I took a chance on love.  And I’m so glad I did.  Judy is a lovable cat who is chipper and snuggly and loves to destroy my furniture.  And I don’t mind because I love her. Her presence makes me calm and happy. 

I didn’t want another cat.  And then I met Sonya Reed.  She had written me to thank me for being with Khristian on his last day on earth and making him laugh.  A friendship developed.  We wrote.  I went to visit her.  In the year that followed she told me of her cat at the prison.  She named her Violet.  She snuck food to her and tamed her.  She loved this cat like a child.  The Sun published a piece about Violet and Sonya.

But then the prison decided they were going to trap the feral cats at the prison and kill them.  Sonya pleaded with the Assistant Warden to let her trap Violet and let someone adopt her.  And even though I didn’t want a second cat, especially a feral one that might hurt Judy, I agreed to do it.  I didn’t do it out of a love for a cat, but out of love for my friend.  I wanted to take care of the one thing she loved and make sure that she was safe from harm.

So, I arranged to have Violet tested for Feline Leukemia and HIV and she tested negative.  I got her spayed and vaccinated.  I brought her home on October 23, 2011 and amazingly she thrived in her new environment.  She is now an important and loved member of my family.

This past weekend, I awoke at 4:30am to the sound of her labored breathing under my bed.  I knew this wasn’t a good sign.  I found an emergency vet and brought her in immediately.  They took chest x-rays and found some inflammation.  They didn’t know if she had asthma or pneumonia or really what was wrong.  They gave her steroids and an antibiotic and kept her for 12 hours.  She didn’t eat.  I knew she was stressed out in that foreign place, so I took her home where she could rest and feel comfortable.

Yesterday, October 23 exactly one year from the day I brought her home, I took her to her regular vet.  She still wasn’t eating and had vomited. They did blood work, including a heartworm test and last night, the vet called to confirm that she had heartworms, which are fatal to cats.  Violet spent the first two years of her life living in a culvert outside the death row facility in Gatesville.  Heart worms are contracted by a mosquito.  There is no treatment for cats.  I am devastated.

I wrote Sonya a letter last night through JPay to break the bad news. I wish I didn’t have to do it that way.  I wish I could have called her and spoke to her in person, but she’s in prison.  In addition to dealing with the news of Violet, her daughter with Khristian just had her fourteenth birthday and in two weeks, it will be the three year anniversary of Khristian’s death.  I don’t ask much of people, but if you want to score major kharmic brownie points, would you please send Sonya Reed a letter?  If only to say that you’re praying for Violet.  She needs her spirit lifted and right now I can’t be the only one to do it.
Her address is:
Sonya Reed #878111
Mt. View Unit
2305 Ransom Road
Gatesville, TX 75628

You can write her the old fashioned way or buy a stamp through jpay and send an email. It would mean the world to me if people reached out to her with compassion.  You don’t have to be her best buddy, just say something simple.

I am trying to make sense of this turn of events.  Violet was the happy ending to my book.  I couldn’t save Khristian Oliver or LarryMatthew Puckett, but I could save a tiny cat from death row.  And look at what happens. Despite my best intentions, death will take her anyway. I just wish and hope and pray that this little cat can beat the odds and recover.

If you are so inclined, will you please pray for her?
Thank you.