Today I lost my Lola to cancer.
People who don’t like cats won’t understand this post, but I say people who belittle them just don’t know cats. And people who belittle those of us who mourn the loss of a cat, just don’t know about love.
If you really open your heart to a cat, the payback is priceless. There is no such thing as “just a cat”; there are only people who refuse to see and fear to feel the fullness of that relationship. There are no such things as bad cats, either – only people who do not listen to them. And for those who say they won’t own a pet because of this exact type of moment as this I say: today is one of the worst days of any pet parent’s life. But one cat gave me sixteen years of love, laughter, and companionship. It is always worth the price of admission.
Lola was the cat we adopted to ease the grief over the loss of 19-year-old Mischief, my deceased mother’s cat who helped me caretake Mom through terminal cancer – as myself, my husband, and our then-remaining cat Sugar Bear agonized over the hole she left in our lives.
A black-and-white polydactyl kitty with intense green eyes, Lola pulled us all out of our grief, even though we lost Sugar Bear at 18 years old some six months later…
I remember not feeling ready for a new cat. And now I will remember most that she taught me I was wrong. So wrong. I needed her less than two weeks after Missy died even though I didn’t know it then.
When we brought her home, I worried I wouldn’t bond with her, that I didn’t have enough left in my emotional tank…But then she crawled up on my shoulder and burrowed into my neck – and how does one resist that?
My husband named her… We walked into the shelter’s adoption space, he laid eyes on her and simply said, “Lola.”
And she was. And she was ours. We didn’t even look at another kitten.
As I held her that first day at home alone with her, I remembered the 1970’s song by the Kinks. It was one of my favorites as a teen – I loved something about the lyrics and everything about the chorus. It now should be an anthem for trans people everywhere, but that is getting off-point. There is a lyric in the song that I knew represented this kitten. It goes:
“Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls. It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world except for Lola. La-la-la Lola. La-la-la Lola.. Lola.”
Losing Mischief – my gray dilute tortie confidante, my own soul’s care-taker, my co-carer of Mom – levelled me. My world was mixed up, muddled up, shook up… And then came Lola.
I shouldn’t have worried about bonding. If I had known what all would come… two dental surgeries, a malignant cancerous mass removal, hyperthyroidism, IBD, and finally the cancerous mass in her stomach…the violent vomiting, diarrhea, and severe weight loss…the times I would spend soothing her and cleaning her up – a look of total humiliation in those perfect green eyes – telling her it was okay that she had had accidents on the bed, all over the litter boxes, furniture and walls… I wouldn’t have believed then how much it wouldn’t matter…at how much I would grow to love her.
That first day when I was alone with her at home, I put on the Kinks and cranked up the song, held her in my arms and we danced around the room to Lola…I sang the lyrics to her and she purred… and as I held her little butterball body in my arms I was wondering then if Mischief had somehow guided me to her…
Sixteen years later…
I curled up in bed with Lola last night.
I held her too-thin body against mine. She must be down to three pounds, now, I was thinking… her face so gaunt, her fur so less shiny and feeling rough…yet those green eyes laid waste by disease were still so bright and looking into mine with absolute trust.
I pulled up the song on my laptop. I played Lola for my Lola… She watched the video with me. I sang it to her –especially the chorus. And she purred…all night… and even through the procedure until she breathed her last breath, taking a piece of me with her.