My old lady Diva, Racecar. Most of her life she was not allowed on anything “up” in the kitchen, like this garden window. But this year I have let her get away with more.

Right now my sweet (and obnoxious Diva) Racecar is on my mind. She is not shockingly old for a cat, but old. She just turned 16 last month. In February she was diagnosed with kidney disease and she and I have been working through how to live through sickness together. She’s cranky and demanding and picky and LOUD and she has never, never been this way before. It’s a gift/curse I never got with my mother, that I actually wanted: a gradual, step by step decline so I could ease my mind and my heart into accepting that this is near the end. My mother went quickly – only four weeks after her diagnosis with cancer. A blessing for her, hard on me. But with my beloved Racecar, my sole companion who has been by my side through multiple painful breakups and years of solitude, mental health breakdown, foreclosure on my home, kid growing up and going to college, a move, learning to live all by myself on this great big property…she is my companion as only those who desperately love your pets will understand.

I have laid awake in hotel rooms many times, unable to sleep because there was no furball with sinus issues snoring next to me.

And now, yes, I have to clean the CAT HAIR from the garden window every couple of days. Ugh.

Yesterday she didn’t want to eat anything I gave her. It’s common with kidney disease: nothing sounded good but she was still hungry. I provided her usual food, but no. I have not one, but TWO, standby kidney-friendly kibble foods. I tried both of those. No. I went to the store and bought fresh fish and fresh ground turkey. I actually placed fresh meat in front of her. She ate one tiny piece of tilapia, and licked the turkey. Then she looked up at me and meowed, “I’m hungry?” I cooked her bone marrow broth, with eggs. Nope. I mixed some turkey with mayonnaise – mayonnaise is her favourite human food – no good.

I know she will eat treats. She loves a couple of special things that are not good for her kidneys and not healthy and I suspected she would eat those but she’s a sick kitty and I want to be responsible and feed her good food. She followed me around the house, meowing, “I’m hungry? Please?” Ugh. I am nearly at my wits end with this cat.

When she is unhappy in the night (like when she is starving, for instance), she jumps on my chest to wake me up for attention. She did this ALL. NIGHT. LONG. At 5:35 am this morning I sat up and yelled “OH MY GOD, CAT!!” And got up for the day, furious.

I read twenty websites that came up with the search terms “my cat won’t eat” and decided I would starve her into eating. I picked up her kibble, and the mayo/turkey, and the tilapia, that I had put down first thing, and gave it all to the chickens. I refused to give her anything for hours.

Then she disappeared.

It’s a warm Autumn day, I had the sliding glass door to the deck open. She had gone out several times earlier in the day, restless, irritated, hungry, searching. Now she was gone and with the doors open she could be anywhere. I searched the house and couldn’t find her. I searched outside. No kitty.

Like a typical mom, I immediately feared the worst. I checked the road in case she had been hit by a car. I listened for wildlife sounds to indicate a coyote. I imagined her seeking the darkest, most hidden corner for a burial space to go and die in peace because her human had abandoned her. I thought, “So what if she might only eat treats? If it is her last day on Earth, she deserves to eat treats.”

I searched and searched. My Racecar is deaf, so calling won’t have any effect. I need to physically find her, to know where she is. And I searched! for three hours I searched. And when your baby is missing – even if she is a bullshit obnoxious Diva baby – three hours is forever.

Then she moseyed out of the spare bedroom, stretching her legs out behind her, blinking sleepy eyes. She had been sleeping – SOMEWHERE! I had searched that room with a flashlight on my hands and knees three times! – and was now awake. She looked at me, “I’m hungry?” I fed her the usual kibble, and thank the gods, she ate it. It was 5pm, the first time she had eaten since about noon the previous day.

I have no idea how much time I have left with her. It’s getting progressively harder. I love her; I am here for her; but gosh, it’s getting harder.

10 thoughts on “Diva

  1. She’s a lovely cat, and I hope she’ll be around for years to come! In personal experience I’ve always found that good hydration is important. Are 18 year old Xenia allows me to add a bit of water to her wet food which she licks right up. But of course all cats are independent and individual, and what one loves another abhors. Good luck with your diva, they are such important parts our lives.

    1. Thank you so much, Lou. ❤ You are right, hydration is so important, especially for kitties with kidney disease. My girl has never liked wet or soft food her whole life, but she will drink sauces, like juice from a can of tuna, or a broth. I've tried softening her kibble in a sauce, but then she refuses it! So picky. This year for the first time ever, she has eaten a little bit of fresh fish, so I give her a little piece at a time till she is done, then I eat the rest. In this case, she ate a piece about as big as a kernel of corn, so I had a full tilapia lunch! It was delicious! She doesn't know what she's missing, ha ha. I'm glad you have had Xenia for 18 years. That is wonderful. I'm not sure I can handle it if Racecar remains this hard to feed for another 2 years. It's quite stressful.

    1. Thank you, Lenore. I hope so too. ❤ I just wish it was easier to take care of her. All these things I do for her are brand new. Up until this year she was the most low-maintenance cat in the world, and she was also one of those cats that had a silent meow. But she went deaf and now her meow is so loud! I really can't tell if she's being obnoxious and spoiled, or if it is due to being sick. Pedro says both, and that must be right. When I leave on trips, I only leave her favourite dry kibble, and she has so far done just fine with that. I think she gets more dependent when I am home.

  2. Beautiful creature and I do know the complexity of loving a dying companion. Did I miss the story about her name? My vet suggested more wet food than kibble to be sure he got enough moisture, but not every cat likes the wet stuff. Love, it would seem, is always a conundrum ♡

  3. A touching, sad and loving story, Crystal. My heart went out to you and Diva. I’ve had three favorite cats during my life: Demon the black cat of my youth that once dropped her litter of kittens on my feet when I was sleeping, Rasputin, my African cat that was truly tough and 100 percent character, and FE, the small female cat the Peggy and I inherited when Tasha went off to college. She loved to play fetch with me. Her favorite place to sleep was with her head buried down in my shoe. Weird. 🙂 So I know how attached one can get to a cat (even though I am basically a dog person). Wishing you the best. –Curt

  4. I am so sorry you are going through this and nothing anyone says will make it better. It’s like me trying to get friends and family ready. Being cantankerous is one way to help them let go easier. I’m doing my best at it. Cats answer natures call, not ours. This is something you can’t make better. She will always know you loved her and she wants you ready to say, “ok, you can go now. I’ll be ok.”Hugs and love to you my friend.

    1. Oh how funny that you are cantankerous on purpose! (though not really, because you’re too sweet) I am now going to imagine that Racecar is helping to prepare me to say goodbye. It is working. On days like the one I describe here, when she was miserable, it makes me wish for her quick passing. But ever since this hard day that I described here, she has been doing great. Eating normally, finding comfort in her usual comforting things, and then I wonder if she has another couple years in her still. Thank you for the reminder that animals answer nature’s call. I’m looking for that call, and I hope I can help her when it comes.

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