This Memorial Day weekend, with several DYI projects and a gig at Original Mike’s with L. A. Lyon on the calendar, I put my seventeen year old cat Kiara down.
It was not planned. I had managed to be in denial and look past that she had pretty much given up eating
(except for the occasional can of tuna) and that she was down to four pounds. I also looked past that she was spending more and more time in a kind of hunched position, not looking terribly comfortable. But Saturday afternoon, I could no longer look away, as she spent most of the day sitting by the back door, looking out into the yard and loudly meowing.
This was a cat who had never expressed any interest in going outside her entire life suddenly asking to be released. Hoping, I am sure, to find some place where her pain would end. It was time and I decided putting it off any longer was only serving me, not her.
There are friends of mine who have known me for over fifteen years, who had never seen Kiara. She was not a social cat and most times, when visitors came over, she turned into a lump under the comforter. She wanted peace and quiet and in a family of divas and attention seekers (after all, her human IS the girl in the band), she was content to be the one not noticed.
I got her when she was just a tiny kitten. A friend of a friend had two female cats who both had litters and they were desperately trying to find homes. In addition to the numerous kittens running around, there were also five children in the household. They had named her Bandit and when I picked her up for the first time, she clung to me as if to say, “Can you get me out of this mayhem please?” Bandit would not do as a name. She was delicate and a little princess like, so I named her Kiara, after Simba’s daughter in the sequel to The Lion King.
Her introduction into her new family was not smooth. I had a big shepherd mix dog named Carly and I erroneously thought by letting the dog sniff the cat carrier as I brought her in, the transition would be smooth. Instead, as I opened up the carrier, Carly, wanting to welcome her new sister stuck her head in to deliver a kiss. Kiara thought she had been brought home as lunch and came shrieking out of the cat carrier, to hide for hours. We humans are not too bright sometimes, but she forgave me, not just that day, but for many other episodes of stupid behavior.
Kiara’s place in the family was the quiet, normal one and through three different dogs and two cats, that never changed. She helped raise her little cat brother, Kato, a full-fledged people loving performer who regularly plays the chimes for visitors. She was always content to be the one not in the spotlight, the one shyly hanging in the background.
Yet, when there were no strangers in the house, she was my TV buddy. I always said she was the only someone in my life who liked all the same shows I did, whether it was a rock concert or a soap opera. She was always sitting next to me, not asking to change to Sports Center, perfectly content to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the fifteenth time every Christmas.
Most recently, after the “Nashville” finale, I discussed with her why Rayna James should be with Deacon her soul mate, not some Garth Brooks wanna be. She didn’t roll her eyes once.
It is always easier to focus on those someones who are outgoing, full of drama, needing our attention.
The quiet ones, the steady ones, the ones who are always there, are easier to take for granted. Until suddenly, they are not there anymore.
Everyone has a Kiara or two in their family or in their life. She is a reminder to cherish them all.