Saying Goodbye to Maggie

Maggie the Waif

On November 1, 2016, a calico cat now known as Kedi (after the movie) gave birth to four kittens. By the beginning of December, even though the calendar had not officially passed the winter solstice, the weather was cold, and she found shelter for her brood in a broken-down Mazda Miata convertible missing its plastic rear window. My husband Pavel, the owner of the car, had become a crazy cat lady soon after we adopted our first cat, Eppie, in 2010. So when he found this family in his car, he brought them inside and put them in a spare room sequestered from our other cats. They were all sniffling and snorting and coughing, so he took them to a veterinarian, who helped them recover. The kittens were three males in tuxedos and a ginger female, who became Maggie. As kittens do, they soon won our hearts.

Click for video: Though she be but little, she is fierce.

As kittens also do, they grew up much too fast, but I believe we loved them even more as they began to develop their unique personalities. And they found plenty of love from their extended feline family as well.

Maggie the Dreamer

Even big boys and girls like to get into mischief. It’s a lot more FUN–with lots of laughs along the way!

Of course little Maggie loved her daddy. And when she kneaded his belly, her paws were soft and tender–neither the sharp needles of her stepsister Purrl, nor the clumsy, ham-fisted technique of her oversized half brother, Henry.

And she loved to pose for portraits.

But in the middle of August this year, Maggie got sick. Once before, she was walking unsteadily and had her head cocked to the side, and she was diagnosed with vertigo; after just a few over-the-counter doses of Dramamine, she had her land legs back. The symptoms this time were the same, but Dramamine didn’t help. She didn’t come to the kitchen for her for breakfast two days in a row, and Pavel found her curled up  at the back of a shelf. She wasn’t grooming herself, and was clearly getting worse.

So Pavel took her to the veterinarian who had treated the whole family previously when they had respiratory infections soon after birth. She thought the virus may have mutated and causes permanent damage. Then the vet heard a heard a heart murmur and took her for an ultrasound–which she gave us free of charge. Maggie had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which may have been a result of the early virus but was probably a genetic condition. Normally, the walls of a cat’s heart chambers are 3 to 5 mm; Maggie’s were 9 mm. She had only a few days to a week or two to live, and she would die of congestive heart failure, drowning in her own fluids. We decided over the telephone that it was time to say goodbye to our dear Maggie, the sweetest and tenderest of our large brood of cats. At 12:40 p.m. on August 16, Pavel texted me, “Our baby is gone.”

And then I read his beautiful follow-up message: “I’m taking our baby home. She loved us and all the others, the way we loved her. Her last memory was of sunshine, a bright, blue sky, and birds singing just out of reach.”

Yes, Gentle Reader, he carried her outside to receive the injections that started her journey over the Rainbow Bridge. And then he put her in the car and made the long drive home. Her laid her gently in a box with some treats and a favorite toy, writing just as movingly, “She is going in a box she used to sleep in as a kitten. In a box from cycling shoes called ‘Keen.’ That she was. Her brother said good bye.” Her mother even groomed her one last time before we put her into the soft earth in a grove of trees in our back yard. She lived 1 year, 9 months, and 16 days.

Long Live Maggie the Queen!                              November 1, 2016-August 16, 2018

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