Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pepper ... February 1995 ~ October 1, 2008

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here,
that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

Our cat Pepper went to Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday evening. She hadn't been well for awhile; she had been throwing up frequently and in the last few days, stopped eating, drinking or pooping. We took her to the vet here, and an x-ray showed an enlarged heart. Her other bloodwork was normal, but we couldn't see any positive outcome from this situation (which is a road we've been down often with her for the last two years) without hospitalizing her or doing extensive and expensive surgery.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

For 12 years, Pepper was our beloved pet, a member of our family. Miss Congeniality she wasn't (especially in recent years) ... but she was ours.
In our childless days, our previous cat Clinton was akin to our kid. We'd found her on a cold November evening, huddled underneath the hood of The Dean's still-warm car after returning home from a late night of grad school classes. She was named Clinton because we were volunteer envelope-stuffers for the '92 Clinton/Gore campaign at the time.
Four years later, Clinton got sick and in the vet's office, we stared numbly at x-rays. In the room at the time was a small gray cat in a cage. I ignored that other cat, not wanting to even see another feline when ours was so very sick. We spent hundreds of dollars on a cardiogram for Clinton, but to no avail.
Early 1996 was a tough time. My uncle was very sick, we'd just boarded the roller-coaster of infertility hell (a ride which we'd be on for nearly six years to the day) and our cat had just died. Several weeks after losing Clinton, our vet called. Were we interested in a slightly older cat, not a kitten?
"Mama Cat," as she was referred to in the vet's office, was one year old. She'd just had a litter of kittens, all of whom had been adopted to other families. But her owner decided he no longer wanted her. Were we interested? They would understand if it was too soon, having just lost a cat, but maybe we could just come see her?
I remember seeing this cat and realizing that she was the same cat in the room with us when we'd been discussing Clinton's x-rays. The vet really wanted this cat to go to a good home. When we explained that we didn't have the money for declawing her (a must, since we had new furniture), they did it for free. And she became ours, and she became Pepper - both because she looked like a Pepper but also because we wanted a Beatles' reference.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor;
those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again ...
She was a comfort to us when we struggled through six years of infertility treatments. She bled Eagles' green, sitting on The Dean's lap as he watched the Birds. And speaking of birds, she loved sitting on the windowsills "talking" to birds in a way that really seemed as if they were conversing. She had this maddening ability to find something - a rubber band, a barrette of Betty's, some forgotten toy - and start playing with it incessantly just at the precise moment that we'd started watching a favorite show.
And she was fiercely protective, particularly so after the twins came along. She reverted into the true "Mama Cat" she'd been with her 9 offspring. She was initially standoffish with the babies, but in her way, she loved them. God help anyone who got near them.
During the last few months, it was Betty who on her own initiative asked to be responsible for taking care of Pepper - and in return, Pepper often cuddled up to Betty, snuggling with her in bed.
She came to us abandoned and rejected - and similarly, we came to her the same way. We weren't looking for a new cat and we weren't sure we wanted one. We were wrong. In the ways of the circles of life, her arrival in our home was the harbinger of the healing we would need many times over the next 12 years.
Just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by ....


Gershwoman said...

I am so sorry about Pepper! How's Betty handling it? And Boo too? April (the Cat Whisperer) is going to miss Pepper too. Take comfort that she is whole again and in a better place. But I know how it feels to loose a pet. I've been there in putting down 2 rabbits and 1 dog, and dread the day when Dixie's curtain closes (though I don't project that to be for a long while). Take care.

Robin said...

I'm so sorry.

I had to put my dog down in May. I wrote about it. It's a bit embarassing for me to look at now, but I wanted to let you know that I understand and I am thinking of you and your family this weekend.

Earlier today, my husband and I discussed the possibility of becoming a foster family for our local shelter, caring for homeless dogs and acclimating them to children and cats, make them more adoptable. We're not ready to replace our dog... but we miss having a dog in our lives.

Beth Kephart said...

Oh, dear.



I'm so sorry.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Thank you, all, for your kind words and sympathy.

gershwoman: I'd forgotten how wonderful April was with Pepper! As you know, Pepper didn't always like everyone, but she seemed especially fond of April last time she was here. Hopefully Dixie will be with us much, much longer.

robin: Your post about Zooey is wonderfully poignant. (Everyone, go read it.) Thanks so much for sharing that with me.

Beth: It means so much that you'd take time to express your sympathy. I just told my husband - who doesn't quite get my blogging addiction - that this is what's so cool about the blogging world: that a writer who I admire (you) and whose book I have upstairs on my nightstand (A Slant of Sun) would comment on my post about our cat. Wow. Thank you!

I'm very lucky to have each of you in my life.

Anonymous said...

I understand your pain! It is so hard to lose a pet. :(