Two years ago in the early days of the COVID lockdown, we pulled Gracie, a tuxedo kitten with a mangled paw, from the local PTS list. Gracie subsequently survived amputation and a scary bout of panleuk—one of the few cats we’ve seen whip the disease—and spent the last two years beefing up and bouncing around the Main House with Griffin, our other resident tripod. She wasn’t a snuggler but had taken to sleeping on the edge of my bed with Stripe (he likes curvy girls) and would offer a sturdy purr if I snuck an ear smoosh when she wasn’t looking.
Last Tuesday night I came home and found Gracie at the base of a cat tower unable to move. At first, I thought she’d injured herself in a fall, but that seemed improbable—the tripods are agile even on slick floors, towers or stairs. After X-rays showed no spinal trauma, the vets theorized she had a saddle thrombosis, a clot which prevents blood flow to the rear legs, causing loss of movement. They agreed the condition was unusual in a young cat (Gracie was two) but prescribed steroids, blood thinners and massage to get blood flowing again.
By Thursday, Gracie’s condition hadn’t improved and when Mama Su pointed out that her rear paws were bluish in color—no blood or oxygen—and we made the decision to run her up to UC Davis. After the three-hour jaunt with her purring in my lap (a first), the on-duty ER vet confirmed that she’d suffered the clot and her prospects for recovery were grim. The doctor gave her a painkiller and we made the tiring return home to be with her friends in the Main House.
Back home at 5:30 AM, Gracie lay next to me and the other furry bedbugs and sometime around 8:30 AM passed quietly in her sleep. It was an unexpected turn for a Main House resident but more common than our posts might suggest. Just last month, we lost Biscuit, our original Kirkland cat, who strutted onto the patio at work in 2009, presented Mama Su with a fine mouse, hopped into her car like a bestie and became the first and still the best cat we ever rescued.
Biscuit spent the next 13 years ruling House Kirkland from a cat tower by day and curled by my head by night. She was a magnificent long-hair blondie—regal, arrogant and more tolerant of the parade of furry trollops and pretenders than royalty should have to be. In early June, I noticed she had been losing weight, and upon closer look, our vet discovered inoperable tumors throughout her intestines. One day, “Queen”, the next day “Terminal” and we were forced to make an overnight decision to let her move on in peace.
Biscuit’s audacity and privilege are legend at House Kirkland—“Dad let her watch TV from the piano…” “She slept in his dry cleaning and he did NOTHING.” “She peed on the groomer EVERY time…”. A first-rate lap cat, Biscuit thought nothing of flicking her tail over my arm like fur boa during Zoom calls to announce her presence and was my first trip to an emergency room and a source of humility from the very start. “Hi, there’s something wrong with my cat. She’s howling and walking funny…” “Your cat’s in heat.” Oh…right…of course…
In any event, Gracie and Her Majesty are now in a better place and in the chaos we manage every day, it seems like there’s no time to honor those we’ve loved and lost too soon. We don’t like to write about the heartache—there’s enough of that in rescue already—but they're in our thoughts if not our posts. Gracie and Biscuit.