In 2014, as I memorialized these two, I wrote, “It’s hard to believe that tomorrow, June 16, will be one year since these two joined my household, and equally hard to believe they are gone so soon. Then, it was Lakota and Jojo, and the two were a little tired but happy to rest in the bathroom and eat, and to begin exploring their new home.”
And now it’s hard to believe it’s eight years ago I picked them up and brought them home, probably the first real fosters I took in through the Homeless Cat Management Team. There was something about the light in the bathroom where I fostered them, the quiet of a summer afternoon, the tile on the floor where they spent most of their time, this excessively hot weather when I tried to keep them cool. I’ve just felt their presence in there and in the upstairs the last few days, so I wanted to share their story.
I knew when they came here our time together would be brief and I hoped they’d be friendly. My goal with any foster is to integrate them into the feline family so they have the pleasures of companionship, and I also hoped these two would have the time to do that. The time with an animal companion is always too brief, and even knowing they are 19 and 20 years old doesn’t soften the pain of loss, but that doesn’t mean you need to focus on that loss all the while you are together. Animals are very much in the present, so we should be in that moment with them because our moments are limited, and not taint them with our anticipatory sadness. Lakota, Emeraude and I had a wonderful time together, and I will never forget either of them. And the two were very brave, losing all they knew and simply adjusting to life here.
Two geriatric cats, but don’t let that fool you
Friendly they were, and I was actually unprepared for how animated and curious they became with time and care.
Lakota began his time here sleeping most of the time in the red plaid bed. I was concerned about this lack of energy, though his appetite was fantastic.
In the meantime Jojo, whose I renamed Emeraude a month or so later, made good time in being quite affectionate with me and dividing her time between the bathtub and the bath mat, happily hopping back and forth.
The two had been living in a large dog cage in various places such as basements, garages and porches while their person tried to find a place to live. By bathroom is big enough to turn around in but not much more, but they were thrilled, not at just the space, but to be able to get a little distance from each other.
After a few days I blocked the top of the stairs with a baby gate and opened the bathroom door. Each day Lakota ventured a little farther; in the first two days he couldn’t get up on the chair at my drafting table or onto my bed.
But walking around, getting exercise and the canned food with water added primed him up and one day he made it up on the chair and the next, the bed and from there to the windowsill.
Jojo rarely ventured from the bathroom, preferring the relative security and the extra privacy she got when she was the only one in there.
Lakota decided he was my studio cat.
He gained strength and agility for about four weeks, then one day his appetite wavered, it diminished over the next few days and and exam and blood tests showed everything was failing. I always felt he gathered the last bit of strength he had to conquer one more home and one more human before succumbing to the effects of old age on August 1.
After his death Emeraude began to explore just a little and continued being very friendly with me, so we got to know Emeraude a little better in the next few months. She slowly became a member of the household, happily sleeping on the studio windowsill, then joining us in my studio while I worked in there.
In November she began to lose her appetite and grow lethargic and one morning while I was giving her a little exam she collapsed and off we ran to the emergency hospital. An exam and tests showed lymphatic leukemia, a slow-moving type of leukemia that was highly treatable, but she was elderly and in an advanced stage. The emergency veterinarian strongly urged me to have her euthanized right then because she could collapse again at any time, and could bleed out, throw a blood clot or bleed internally.
I brought her home and learned more about the disease, and worked with a hospice veterinarian who kept Emmie feeling good for the next two months until we lost her on February 2, 2014. Emeraude had thoroughly charmed me and the Five, and we were all with her in her last moments.
That’s a quick review of their stay with me and some of the photos I look at regularly as I browse my folders of photos, smiling as I remember those two brave personalities whose lives totally changed, but who took it well in stride.
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In this era I was still working on my Daily Sketches, and in October 2013 I included Emeraude in a pastel on the windowsill, “Emeraude’s Autumn Afternoon”.
I also created two new sympathy cards after I lost them, as the basis for my “rescuers’ ” set of sympathy cards. You can see them below.
Below is a list of posts where you’ll see yet more photos and read more about them as we moved through our fostering journey.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Animal Sympathy Cards
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Click on either of the images to read more about the cards and order.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!