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You Can't

Story ID:10290
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2015
Person:Ms. Priss
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You Can't


I took the cardboard cat carrier into our spare room, closed the door and opened
opened the carrier. A grey and white tabby shot out, looked around the room and ran for
safety behind my desk.

It was January, 2004. My first wife Georgia passed away the October before.
My 16-year-old son wanted a cat for company. After begging for weeks, I finally caved
in.

We returned from the shelter, where we rescued Kitten, as they said her name
was. Her elder owner passed away. Kitten was left to the hope of adoption.

She found us.

“Kitten?” I looked behind my desk. She sat and stared at me. Her big dark eyes
were not friendly. “Kitten? Come here kitty.”

I reached to her. She darted forward and took a blood sample from the back of
my hand with her sharp teeth.

I cursed, jumped back and left the room to her, as the vet said we should. Our
new family member needed time to adjust.
“I can’t believe we got another cat!” I growled, as I walked downstairs, using a
tissue to soak up the blood on the back of my hand.

A few days later, my son opened the door to the spare room. Kitten, lonely and
bored circled his legs, followed him into his room and lived there for a year. When I
walked by, she sat by the door and hissed at me.

She grew brave. She’d walk half way down the stairs, stand by the banister, lash
out at me when I walked by and rush back to the safety of my son’s room.

I took my time. It was a labor of love.

It took three years.

One evening, Kitten stood at my feet. “Hi, Kitten. What do you want?” I
reached down. She let me scratch her head.

From that time forward, she’d rush to my side of the sofa when I came home
from work. If I went out on the deck with Ginny, when I came home, she’d sit by the
patio door and cry for me.

As soon as I came in, she’d run to my side of the sofa, wait for me and a scratch
on her head. A few weeks later, I had her up on the middle cushion of the sofa, sleeping
between Ginny and I.

My son moved out and the cat became closer to me. A year later, we moved
across the USA. Before the move, Ginny tried to find a home for Kitten. “Michael,
she’ll never make this trip in the cab of our moving truck.”

“Gin, we can’t. She just started loving me.” I wanted to cry.
She never found a home for Kitten, so off we drove, with kitten in her
carrying box on my lap. Our son-in-law drove. After thirty minutes, I opened the case.
Kitten stuck her head up and watched the passing cars and scenery. Eventually, she
got out of the box and crawled under the seat to hide.

She stayed there for hours, but eventually, she came out and got on the seat
between us. She spent four days in the truck with us. She surprised us with her
resiliency.

Up until this writing, we have lived in four different houses in Idaho. Ms. Priss,
as she became known, because of her personality, made them all hers. She was a tough
cat.

In 2015, she had been with us for eleven years. If she was two or three years old
when we got her, then she would be thirteen or fourteen years old. We suspect she was
older than that when we adopted her.

During the last six months, she lost a lot of weight. We attributed it to stress
caused by our younger kitty. On January 22, 2015 I took her to the vet. I explained about
her weight loss and suspected she might have a bad tooth. She had two removed the year
before.

They had to sedate her to examine her. She is not fond of anyone but Ginny and
I. She tried to bite the vet.

I left her there and went home. Ten minutes after I arrived, the phone rang. “Mr.
Smith. I examined Ms. Priss. It feels like she has a foreign object in her bowel. We see
this in younger animals quite often. They like to chew things. It’s rare in older animals,
but it does happen.”

“So what do you have to do?” I asked.

“I’ll need to operate and remove the object.”

I knew this was going to cost a lot, but I said, “She deserves every chance to live.
Do what you can, Doc. She’s been with us too long to not give her a chance.”

Later in the day, the veterinary hospital called. I dreaded answering. “Hello?”

“Mr. Smith, we operated. Ms. Priss has a tumor in her colon. It’s spread to her
lymph nodes.” I was silent. “Mr. Smith?”

“I’m here. What do we do now?”

“There’s nothing we can do. I’m sorry.”

“My wife will be home in a few minutes. We’ll come right over. I don’t want
Priss to die alone. She deserves our respect.”

I hung up and cried. “Oh, Prissy, I’m going to miss you, big girl.”

Forty minutes later, Ginny and I were led to the kennels. Priss lay on her side. An
IV was in her right paw. Her eyes were open. She looked at us, but she was still groggy
from the anesthesia. I doubt she saw us, but I hope she sensed our presence.

I looked at Ginny. Her eyes filled with tears that threatened to spill over. She saw
the same in mine. I knelt, scratched Ms. Priss’s head, told her I loved her and said my
goodbyes. Ginny left the room. It was too hard for her. I stroked Priss’s head, while the
doctor did what needed to be done.

A minute later, my big girl was gone and cried more, as I am while writing this.

Back at home, I sat the carrier on the floor. Out little Callie sniffed all around and
inside it, wondering where Priss was. She did that for a full day. Since then, she sits in
front of our balcony doors for hours, just staring out, wondering when Ms. Priss is
coming home.

We know she is depressed. How do you explain it to an animal?

You can’t.

Michael T. Smith