B'Orange, taken in September.
A few weeks ago as John and I were driving down The Cajon Pass on our way to visit his parents, I had the most amazing experience. We were riding each with our hand on the other’s leg. I looked to the right, out the car window, and saw the sun shining brilliantly on the snow covered mountains in the distance. In front of the mountains were the deep green foothills. The sky was bright and clear. In that transcendental moment, I realized that while there were many things I wanted, I had everything I needed. An overwhelming feeling of contentment washed over me as I thought, “This is it. This moment is my life” and I was appreciative of all that I had.
What I had in that moment was an adoring (and adorable) husband, people I love who love me, gorgeous scenery, and, although they were not physically with me, what John and I affectionately refer to as The Kitties Three – Frankie, B’Orange, and Nana – the almost celestial beings that help make our happy marriage into a happy family.
Today, at about 10:00 AM, after B’Orange’s short – but brave – fight with full renal failure, The Kitties Three became The Kitties Two. A few hours earlier, we had made the difficult decision to have him put to sleep so that he would suffer no more.
B’Orange was born, appropriately, on April Fool’s Day in (I think) 2003, the same year Frankie came to live with us. Born in John’s closet, he was one of four kittens. None of his littermates made it to adulthood. In fact, I don’t think any of them even made it to adolescence. We think their mother was a carrier for Feline Leukemia, and that she passed it on to all but B’Orange, so he was our miracle-baby.
He was a kitten like any other kitten – into everything. As he matured, he didn’t grow much. At his heaviest, he weighed about eight pounds. A tiny thing, really, by cat standards. Both Nana (who is two or three years younger than him) and Frankie are much bigger than he was. But what he lacked in body mass, he made up for in personality. All of our cats have had distinct personalities, but B’Orange was something special. His expressive little face and eyes always let you know what he was thinking. He had his own likes and dislikes, his own preferences. He didn’t, for example, like to be pointed at.
He loved John and I in a way that most cats don’t seem to love their people; he was almost dog-like in his affection. While Frankie and Nana are very independent and do what they like, B’Orange would actually come when called most of the time (we even nicknamed him “B-Dog” because of his canine-like characteristics). Hell, he wasn’t usually very far away from us. When we lived in our apartment, he was content to curl up on the computer monitor while John and I sat at our desks. He would curl up on my chest when we were watching TV or a DVD. He even went through a spell of running to the couch when he heard the whirr of the DVD player. He slept on my chest at night, or more recently, snuggled up between John and I, purring loudly until he fell asleep.
And he had the most distinct purr I’ve ever heard in a cat. Not just loud and rumblely, but when he was especially happy and content, he would almost coo like a pigeon. We called it his bird-purr.
Monday, I saw that B-Dog had trouble jumping from the dining room table to the kitchen island, a jump he usually made. I had previously noticed that he’d lost a little bit of weight, but I had attributed it to the disruption in his family life (John had been gone out of town for several days, and I was out of town myself a couple of days earlier). When he had trouble jumping up on my lap later that evening, I decided to take him to the vet as soon as I could get him there.
Tuesday, we were at the vet’s office before noon, but it was too late. His blood work indicated that he was in Full Renal Failure. Wednesday, I left him at the vet’s office all day for treatment. When I picked him up Wednesday afternoon, he seemed perkier. He even ate that evening and drank a little bit. He climbed up on my chest as we lie in bed and talked. He purred and purred that special cooing of his and we let our love flow to each other.
Within the hour, he was significantly weaker. By midnight, he was slipping in and out of consciousness. We laid together, for hours, with me whispering to him and gently stroking his long, soft fur. He would occasionally reach one of his little paws out toward me, as though to stroke me back. B’Orange was supposed to be at the vet’s office at 9:00 this morning for a second day of treatment. Instead, he was put to sleep.
I was there with him, stroking him and talking to him, as the doctor gave him the injection. He was so weak that he was gone in a flash. I stayed with him for several minutes and then went home. Even with The Kitties Two here, the house seems empty. If B’Orange were here, he’d be climbing over the laptop, stepping on the keys, fooffing me with his shaggy tail at every opportunity. We’d be getting ready to paint and he’d be in the middle of that, too. He’s had paint on his feet more than once!
Frankie is sitting at my feet, looking at me with curiosity and Nana is asleep on the back of the couch. One of my babies is gone, and my husband is 1,100 miles away on this lonely night. And yet, when I say to myself, “This is it. This moment is my life” I still feel contentment underneath all of the sorrow.
My chest physically hurts from the pain of losing this dear kitty-soul too soon, but I feel privileged to have had him in my life at all. My own life has been so enriched by the joy that he brought me, every single day. He’ll never climb up on my shoulder again, like a parrot might, or bite his brother on the butt, but he leaves me so many happy memories and much love in my heavy heart.
Our beloved B-Dog, taken Tuesday night.
B'Orange and Frankie, taken Wednesday evening.