Soul Lobotomy

As being a goth requires thinking on Death, I seem to fit that quite well. Of course not all Goths are actually death obsessed but I myself have always been. You see, I do fear death. It is not my death I fear, I accept that this is an inevitability. It is the deaths of others. Sprite is not handling Nymph dying well, and her behavior has started to reach the critical point when she begins to self mutilate. I am left remembering my own deeds of self destruction, and yet most of those times others would think of were the acts of them not me. It is a strange tangle. So in my worry for her I spent the day on the phone with the vet, who worked with us via telephone for free.

Our options are find a cat…. or trying antidepressants. I am certain that you all know what my decision was and my vet strongly recommended the cat over the drugs. I have crystalized the thoughts enough as to why she cannot be the only cat, and M my friend helped that by flat out asking why it is okay for me to put her emotional needs above my own.

I don’t think I am of course, but with animals and love in general I am a thousand times bitten and a million times shy so I never recover from a loss. The trust and love of any living being is far too rare for me. Sprite also keeps me alive and happy and healthy. The trifecta of need is met with in her compact furry form. So much soft fur, so much amazement.

So what is it that has her in such a state each time she is the only cat?

Some Sprite facts.

She has never been the only cat, except with me. The formative years of her life were spent first in a hoarding situation with a cruel cat hoarder. Yes they think they love cats but when you cannot care for them and there are so many that they are starving and just a trapped Pride of ferality, you are being cruel and need them rehomed. She then moved there to a crowded foster home. A shelter, a multi cat household with five cats, including herself. Then, back to a shelter. Another multicat household. A shelter where to save her from being euthanised she entered yet another cat household with a slew of people and cats. Two cats per person and at least five people, though I think it was way more. I forgot as it’s been a long time. Six years in fact. Then she moved in with myself, my roommates, and their two cats. She struggled to deal with just two other cats. IT took her over a year to adapt to that, and at first she self mutilated over being lonely.

Then I got married. She needed stitches from her self harm fit, and we got William Shakespurr. Even typing his name makes my ribs hurt, so there are regrets but not between Sprite and myself. After rehoming him once she started self mutilation there was Nymph. Sprite hasn’t been so depressed in the entire time I have known her. She is in some moments a shell of who she was. My eyes and nose have the tingle feeling that I associate with crying when i think of her pain.

So do I drug her and spend exactly the amount I have after rent for food and other bills? Nope. I am going to find a cat. The cat won’t be big, I will not risk my health for this cat. I won’t get the poodle off of Craigslist I found. A dog I could pet! Wee. It would be fine until it barked, licked me, had to pee, wanted to go for a walk, needed grooming, a bath… and of course there’s DOG food. Ick. We have a few caterviews coming up. The first one I feel won’t happen as the people with the cat first asked for 1000 for a mixed breed cat of no special intellect. They admit she’s a very stupid cat. Then again she was more likely spoiled than stupid, as the humans adopted her instead of a child. They cannot afford pet rent anymore. Something I do not contend with here thankfully. So we moved on.

Yet it was in this that my fears came to verbalisation. You see, I wake up and my first thought is rarely, “God damn I have to pee.” That’s my third thought. My first thought is, and has been since my first night with her. “Oh god is Sprite still alive.” My second has become, “Oh God is my secret love’s name here still alive?”. It leaves me shaking. Then I breathe, realize yes, Sprite is here. Go pee, and check to see if said lover is still alive. This has gotten worse since Rose died and a lot worse after losing Nymph. I am prone to going to my bedroom if Sprite is sleeping and waking her up just in case. I had gotten past that need just a few years ago. I will try again. By past, I do mean I just didn’t do it every few hours every day. About once a month.

In fact my fear that my loved ones will die was an issue with my ex-husband, as I would sometimes have to wake him up if he was too still or quiet. I would wait hours, biting my nails, trying to not cry and when I could stand it no longer I would touch him. Breathing isn’t enough, I need actual movement preferably with snarls of “I am sleeping go away”.

Somehow this lead to a promise that lead to a discussion of Greek Mythology, the details would give away identities of people who must remain secret so, shh… In the discussion of the Greek Afterlife aka Tartarus, I mentioned I would rather be in the torture section also called Tartarus instead of the Elysian fields or the very boring sounding waiting dock where people who cannot pay the boatman’s fee end up. No, the Elysian fields sound horrible to me. They are after all intended as a Utopia but one person’s Utopia is another’s meloncholic vision of sadness.

Imagine waiting forever for your loved ones. This is what you do there. You wait. They must die to join you, you are not aware they are dead, and so you spend your days at home, doing small things like cooking or cleaning. You do not remember them fully you just know you are waiting. You do not even know you are dead and the urge to explore or go beyond the simple tasks is removed from you.

What if you don’t have a loved one? What if your loved one goes to Tartarus instead? What if they become immortal? Do you wait forever? What if they are one of the chosen few who is allowed something else at the discretion of the god Hades? You are left to remember nothing forever. How is that utopian? It sounds more like a lobotomy of the soul to me.

As it is, I have found no conception of the afterlife suits what I would see as heavenly. Golden streets sound hideous and wasteful, and a heaven as the Christian Heaven was taught to me with no pets, gender segregation amidst other kinds (not wholly a universal tradition) but where there is need to fear attacks from hell, where again thought is not prized… this seems wrong to me too.

I cannot think of any widely known traditions that don’t make me sad, lonely, or a bit angry. Probability factors? All three. Some of my sorrow is my depression and aching heart over the lost friends. A lot of it is the sensation of insult that even in death I am relegated to doing what others would deem right for me and not what would make me happy in these supposed places.

I guess heaven would require me to be fulfilled by myself. Even that possibility is a requirement. I would demand full disclosure, instead of fading to a shade of my former self as the Greeks put it. So as I think of Rose and Nymph and what their heaven’s should entail i want to be remembered, I want them to know they are dead if THAT will make them happy, and if they want to wait for me great. If not? That’s fine too. I dislike the image of my friends being leashed until I die. In a way it’s a sort of a chain unless people become hermits.

Your mother loves her husband. He loves her. Your parents love you. They love your siblings. You and your siblings marry and have children. You die, you and your parents and siblings are now all dead and waiting. Your children and grand children are alive. They reproduce, or even just fall in love or make friends with people on the deep level. Now you are all waiting.

The waiting never ends.

Anyone up for a Soul Lobotomy?

Forever Home

There was horror today, a horror I had not expected. I had entered a cycle of pain with my cat William. Not mine, he found a home. William has hurt me, then earned my forgiveness by being cute and gentle. Then he has hurt me. The hurting was rare at first then faster and faster. The more he hurts me the less I can play with him. The less I can play the more he hurts me. Today he nearly hospitalized me, and I could not wait any longer. At the time of this writing William just met his new owner, and he leaves us tomorrow morning.

I was terrified of him today, all it took was him jumping on me at all and there it was, the blinding pain. I did manage to shower but because of his damage to my skin, the bruises and all of the other places he has left his mark are more plentiful than the clear skin/my normal skin. There are a few places that got infected from my almost shower days before. I took a huge risk in the shower but I had to choose the pain and potential fainting in the shower for my mental health. After a certain point on the dirty scale, I have to fight to do anything constructive.

I excused his behavior because a lot of it is normal just amplified in size. I ignored the pain this caused me. When his being out of a locked room sends me into a flashback, there is a problem. It is not his fault, he just was in the wrong home. Then there was the challenge of finding him a home. I did not want him to be abused, I wanted him to be safe. His challenges also came into play. Then, there was a sudden stigma.

I have been stigmatized in a lot of ways, and thankfully not everyone did this but a few people chose to mock me instead of help me and it took a toll. I am emotionally exhausted and my entire left side is still burning from his crushing weight. Even thinking about it sends me into a state that feels like a prelude to a flashback. I am no wilting flower, but, the constant pain from abusers and then his version of love has left a mark.

William is the antithesis to the desirable cat. Most people want a small cat, dainty, young and of course playful. William is playful, powerfully built. He is a master predator without the ability to hold back. He is not good with children, other cats, dogs, and has to be indoors when he is the size of a rather small to medium dog. He is beautiful. Oh, I always find him beautiful. His golden tiger eyes peering out at the world hunting for a toy. He is sleek. Yet, he is too old for the shelters to truly home (so they say) and his disability plays a factor.

I had given up. I was crying. Then Barry my Landlord came over, he had heard from all the neighbors in our community/neighborhood that I was trying to find him a home right now or bust. He has a friend who has been looking for a special cat. She wants a cat that is big, not tiny and graceful but big. She wants a cat that plays for HOURS on end. She wants a cat that is already fixed, microchipped but couldn’t care if he has shots yet, she can do that. So he mentioned William. She works right around the corner.

William likes to go out on the scooter. He has never been outside after dark with me before, but we went and we met L. She looked at him, asked all the right questions. She asked about his favorite type of toy, how much he plays. I mentioned his special needs, and she smiled. “He’s absolutely perfect.” I almost cried. Funny thing is, while I was waiting for her to have a minute to come meet him, another couple asked about him, and they were willing to take him as well. The man was proud to state he has learned to function despite his own Traumatic Brain Injury. William had a choice of homes. The couple decided that since he fears dogs it would be best to let him go to L. My fear that no one would want him, as if I do not want him then who could? That was unfounded.

I have called everyone who was trying to find him a home, I have updated the facebook and still, I want to make sure everyone who was hoping, praying, and searching with me for his home knows, William has a forever home. Not only will he never be too big for this woman, she was excited he is not done growing yet, but she also looks forward to his pouncing her feet. She LIKES that. To me this is strange, but it is just what he needs.

William Shakespurr

He sits, staring at me with bright eyes and adoration. He rubs his head along my leg, sending shocks of pain that make it spasm to my brain. He curls against himself, pulling away. I look at him, trying to treasure the time that remains, knowing soon he will be somewhere else. Somewhen else. Still he will be my William. He lays his head down and I find myself crying again. This doesn’t help my body, to cry but it helps my soul. I close my eyes and I can see a golden light with hope for his future, and for mine imbedded into it.

He has lived with me for a year. He has endured for a year. This has not been a year full of joy for either of us but, the little moments still jump out. I met him in the Mall, where a city run shelter sits full of animals in glass houses. They all seemed so sad. William however responded, despite having just had surgery a half a hour before. He looked at me with his bright eyes, a greenish gold that has no real name but makes me think of Umbra, the other world and dreams. He made this little face that looked like a smile and shoved his pink nose at Sprite. She did not say a word, which was good as with every other cat she had cursed like a sailor, frightening the people that were trying to set us up with a new friend. She was not happy but, I knew he was the right cat.

He never yowled, meowed, or even hissed. He never complained or whimpered even for six months. It was my first month here, in my new home which I leave embedded in as much mystery as an open book truly can, when he first made sound. I remember, he and Sprite were playing, he more than she. She turned and licked his nose and he let out this squeaky meow. Like a rusted door, or a dying battery more than a meow. It resonated and frightened him. Sprite looked amused and smacked him with a paw, he meowed again, and then panicked running away from the spot. He meowed with every step and found he couldn’t escape the sound in his throat. This was the first moment I smiled after the abuse. For that I am always grateful to him, and always will be.

Still these little moments are nested in concerns and pain. It was apparent once a few days had passed that something was wrong with him. He couldn’t walk, instead he dragged himself with his claws in the carpet. He couldn’t jump but slithered up things usually falling. When he would go from room to room he would do it painfully, I could tell he was hurting, and often he bashed his head into walls He had fits, clawing at everything. Then the coughing started. Kennel Cough. Thankfully that is a treatable disease now, though I was unsure if it was. I spent the hours waiting to get him and Sprite to the vet and their medication, which could kill me, in a panicked daze. He was weighed that day, 17 pounds. I was glad he was an adult cat.

He was not an adult at all but a very large baby. I still say it sometimes, “Come here big baby.” He’ll climb into my lap, carefully as he can and lays there when I do. I like to roll him belly up, he makes a face with his eyes half closed, half crossed and his tongue hanging out. Sometimes he lets out a purr that is as squeaky as his meow. The vet said he had permanent brain damage and would, without serious care and guidance, never recover. They also told me he was at most three months old based on his tooth growth. I suspect their math was a bit off, maybe he was six months old, but likely just four or five.

I started to try to teach him things then. I had to teach him to eat, which consisted mostly of me shoving food in his mouth and triggering his swallow reflex. It took about a month for him to be able to eat on his own. Maybe being force fed so he didn’t starve made him dislike wet food but he rarely ever eats it now. That or he doesn’t want to have to get in Sprite’s way. She’ll smack him with her claws and send him running for cover.

He had to learn to walk. Instead of dragging himself I used the harness and some yarn to hold him up. Recreating a harness used in my physical therapy before they gave up on my ability to improve my balance. I never did, I just cannot balance the way others do. It took most of the last year for him to learn to walk. At first he couldn’t even retract his claws. He always had them out. It was like cuddling a switchblade. Still, he learned. He sometimes has trouble but he walks with his claws in.

Teaching him to jump was actually a lot of fun. The lazer pointer was a tool then. I used that to teach him to run too. He would scramble after it, in circles, to the left, then to the right, then the darned dot would move up the wall. After a week of staring at it mournfully, he stretched up, when that wasn’t enough he just stood there for the longest time. I remember the sigh he heaved, before walking away the first time. Still, after more time, he jumped. Now he even jumps on the bed. I’ll walk past, or go to lay down and there he is hopping up and down on my waterbed. Sometimes he will leap from the floor all the way to the top of the cabinets, OVER the refridgerator. You cannot tell he had to learn how.

He is not apparently smart as a cat, but, if you were locked in an apartment in 100+ degrees with only the water you could get from the toilet and the sink you would have brain damage too. He sometimes gets overwhelmed by light, sound, and motion. I do too. When he panics I have learned the best thing is to ignore him if I cannot touch him for fear of the claws. If I can touch him, I pull him close, pull a blanket over him and hold him until he is calm. Sometimes I wish someone had done that with me when i was younger but, I do not know if it would have worked.

He dislikes rock and roll but loves Show Tunes. If I  have to leave him alone, I find he makes less of a mess of the apartment if I can leave some music playing. So far he doesn’t like Evita but seems to adore cats. Still, Porgy and Bess is the one that he responds to the most. My William is a fighter, with a bit of an artist. I am not sure I could trust him with small children. Sometimes if I pet him he will bite and claw. The reaction does not fit the “crime”. I think with his size he could hurt someone. William is now somewhere over a year old and is about 27 pounds. He has doubled in size, and then almost a half more was added on. His paw when resting on my wrist hides it. When he then stretches his paw out my palm vanishes. I cannot have him in my lap as much now, and when I do I come away with bruises from his weight. This cannot go on.

He knows when the lights go out that you lay down and go quiet. He knows that but if the sun is up and I must rest or if he is being naughty, which is often, he will pounce and claw my feet. I already can barely walk, a tiny scratch puts me out of the running, and all I can do is lay there waiting for someone to come and help me balance. I live alone. This cannot go on. He needs somewhere he can be inside, free of dogs, children, and adults who are heavy handed. He needs somewhere that he gets a lot of play, is rarely alone, and is either the only cat or is with a cat that is able to fight back. He bites Sprite’s ears and her ears are pretty bad right now, because I cannot make him stop. He needs somewhere that there is quiet, love, and excitement. I no longer can do all he needs.

William cannot be an out door cat. He has been out a few times, and will sometimes steal a ride with me on the Scooter when I go out. He is fearless. When he escaped on his own he tried chasing cars. He caught one, but luckily it was parked. It sounds a bit humorous but, though he is a very large cat he is so much more fragile than most. His ribs never quite healed. Most of his body has been broken or damaged. He had a broken tail, which you can only feel if he lets you touch it, he had broken ribs, a fractured skull, and often he is in pain. I suspect this relates to his sometimes violent reactions to touch and care.

I think he wouldbe happier with another cat present but he is too afraid of dogs. He was willing to take on a dog that is as tall as I am when I am sitting, (three or four feet) just to keep the dog away from his people, just to protect himself and the only space he had left at the time. He needs to be somewhere that he will not be locked up a lot. No carriers except with the vet, no being penned in the bathroom for hours at a time at least once a week. Somewhere that he can roam  but be safe. Somewhere he can be held and give chase. Somewhere that William can be.

No longer does this home fit his needs. He has literally out grown me. He was considered a feral by the Vet, a vicious little cat that was broken. Now he is a loving cat that wants to please. He has the most darling smile, bright eyes, and when I cry all he does is lay with me trying to make the tears stop. He once tried licking them away but I said ouch, and he stopped. He understands enough of what is going on to be a very good cat for someone able enough to accomodate his needs.

William helped me too, it was not a one way journey. I know I can handle training an animal if I have the energy. I know I can still connect with an animal that seems to others to be lost. I still have my gift of being the friend of feral cats. I also know he is the last of the ferals that I can tame. He is the last of them I can show the world where we worship them. i will not miss his deciding to wake me up to kill my feet but I will miss his bright curiousity. I will miss his warmth when I was cold and had no way to stay warm except to cling to the two furry bodies at hand.

I will miss his discovery of things. Every day he rediscovers everything, and when you are so depressed that life is unbearable, that can still be enchanting. I still am fighting my depression but he has given me something that is precious. For a long time he and Sprite were my reason to live. I knew when I chose to keep him after his diagnoisis as a cat with a disability I was choosing something hard. I actually called the shelter and told them what was up and the only reason I kept William was their response angered me. It struck a nerve. I remember that conversation clearly, “Oh bring him back in, we’ll put him down and you can bring some other cat home.” His disability meant he had to die. It meant surely he was unlovable. The contract I signed upon adoption gave me thirty days to keep him or return him. If I kept him I was obligated, required, and bound to report any medical challenges, his death, or if he ran away. I was obligated to keep him. I was obligated by them. My disability is always going to be new to me, it feels new every day. That nanosecond before the world and pain crush me, before I am aware of my body when I wake, i am not aware of my disability. I just am. I face the shock of being physically broken daily. William recovered. I will not.

I kept him, because if I let them kill William, I was approving killing myself. I felt it in my soul. If I let them murder this cat because he needed more, was I not reenforcing the idea that disability is a death sentence? I know that I cannot keep him now. His increased ability has let me set him free. William has recovered so much ability, that most people will never see him as anything other than a very large cat. He no longer makes the carpet crackle when he walks, he has gone months without any fits, he meows, he plays. William has something special. William is forever a kitten. His body will grow up, grow old, but his mind will forever remain that of a kitten. H e will forever want to play and pounce. He will forever run after sunbeams. He will forever be young. In this way he is essentially immortal. Until the day that this cat dies, which could be decades from now, he will be innocent.

I have struggled with the decision of rehoming William for months. Never once did I decide it was time. It took serious injury for me to realize it is time. His weight dislocated three ribs, I had to go to the ER twice in one week. I am adapting to the changes in my body but I cannot hold him anymore. I am putting my health and my life at risk by trying. He no longer needs me. He wants me. He loves me. He leaves his mouse toy for me daily. I wake up with whichever mouse was handy when he decided to sleep on my pillow. When I started to fall ill a few weeks ago he started following me and trying his best to mimic Sprite’s awesome healing talents. Still, I dislocated ribs. I am covered in bruises and scratches from accidents. I am too fragile for this cat.

Wherever he goes, he will have a few things that go with him. There are toys that must go, his mousey that is so ratty that it looks like trash but if you throw it away he will find it and spread garbage over your entire home (yes, I will send you the most hideous cat toy in the world), his cat furniture which is collabsible and colorful, his crinkle tunnel, and his fluffy stuff on a stick. Those go with William. Sprite has her special toys which she hid from him, and of course those stay. If you take this cat  home with you, you recieve the greatest gift that any child or animal can give as well. Love. I cannot say it is love without comprimise, I can tell you that if you hurt him he will hurt you. I also can tell you that this cat has protected me from criminals. He is just as good as a guard dog, if the person scares him. You will get the little moments too. You may be working on a project, or watching the evening news and you glance at him and he is fast asleep sucking his paw. I dare you to tell me that such an adorable sight wouldn’t sway your heart a bit. You get a walking, purring, snuggling hallmark card.

I will miss William. I will miss even the bad times, the hard times, and yet I cannot cry more than a few tears when I imagine his future. I see him in a home with a large living room, his toys scattered about. Someone playing with him. I see him running, and yes this imaginary world is possible. After all, that is what love is. For him, love is play, mice toys, and playing fetch.

A Response to “What are Service Animals?”

This conversation was held on MSN. My friend is using the Alias Tiffy, in respect to her cat. She asked the question about service animals and our discussion illuminates a bit more about what a cat is capable of. Eventually I will (hopefully) post video of my cat performing her tasks. I am sad to say my cat has an Upper Respiratory Infection courtesy of the shelter system and our new housemate. This doesn’t mean that you should not adopt, just make sure to get your cats medical care when they need it. All typos are left as is in the conversation, though emoticons were removed.

Tiffy says:
Ah, makes sense but scince I can’t see you, how can a cat help you walk?
Kateryna says:
My cat naturally shifts her weight to not fall. So, I trained her to shift her weight to help me not fall. What this means is that when I am walking and start to tip too far in one direction she goes to the other side of me and I can compensate.
Kateryna says:
She has cut my falling down by over 90%
Kateryna says:
Not enough   To stop me needing a wheelchair but I can go pee without falling five times in the six step journey
Tiffy says:
I think I understand
Kateryna says:
Awesome
Kateryna says:
Any other questions?
Tiffy says:
What else is she trained to help with?
Kateryna says:
She alerts me when I forget to take my meds. There is thankfully a lag time between the morphine leaving my system and the pain slamming back into me, and she can sense it. The trained response is for her to either get my med bag for me, or to yowl three times in a row.
Kateryna says:
If I need my meds and cannot reach them she is also trained to retrieve them.
Kateryna says:
She can also dial for an ambulence and can even call Locke on his cell if I fall or somesuch
Tiffy says:
Wow
Kateryna says:
She is trained to warn me when someone approaches from behind me, which cuts down on flashbacks and/or protects me from a random hand right on the injury
Kateryna says:
She used to do more but she is aging and has been sick enough times that the training had to be forgotten for her own sake.
Kateryna says:
Her mouth got torn up, she used to pick up objects etc.
Kateryna says:
She is even trained to “read” some packaging for me at the store, because i am blind as a bat and cannot see much anymore. So, she identifies the shapes or however she does it and paws the package
Tiffy says:
Ow
Kateryna says:
Yeah, she is allergic to poultry and the reaction cut up he rmouth,
Kateryna says:
The other things she does are more instinctual responses with trained reactions
Tiffy says:
Poor thing =/
Kateryna says:
She has a particularly shrill warble she gives when I am going to pass out, and if I stay still she calms down
Kateryna says:
If i am going to have a seizure she will yowl until I either stop doing what I am doing, it hits, or until I sit down, depending on what I am up to.
Kateryna says:
during the pass out time she calls for help, by going to every room in the house and making a ruckus
Kateryna says:
When it is a seizure she moves up to my chest and sits there unless I signal her to get help
Tiffy says:
So I guess most people who have service animals are pretty attacted to them, they’re really amazing
Kateryna says:
she is too sick to work right now, and I cannot get out of bed.
Kateryna says:
Direct correlation.
Kateryna says:
Without my service animal I cannot go outside, I cannot function.
Kateryna says:
It is worse actually than what it was like before she came into my life, because although my back is broken and my legs barely work, with her I feel as free as I did before my injury, and in some ways freer.
Kateryna says:
I lack saftey, I lack security, I fell four times this morning trying to do my daily things like peeing, because she is sleeping off her sickness.
Kateryna says:
I am also terribly worried about her, so I am not as efficient in my work.
Kateryna says:
A service animal is another limb. I love her more than Locke, but he understands why.
Tiffy says:
I hope she gets better soon
Kateryna says:
When she was electrocuted a year ago, he sent me money we needed for him to move out here, it took another six months to get him here but she would[ve died without it, and i am not sure I could survive without them BOTH. One I can handle being without but it sucks.

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