Bendabout Bits: What a cat!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What a cat!

Disclaimer – If you do not like animals, do not read any further. If you love animals, PLEASE be sure to read until the very end, as you will see this story come full circle. I know it is long, but it will be well worth your time.

If you have not noticed, I express myself mostly through writing. I do not know why, but it seems to have some sort of therapeutic effect on my soul. Below is a heartwarming and heart wrenching story all wrapped up into to one beautiful soft white ball of fur…..Dustie.

One afternoon in 2001, I got a call from a girl in our youth group at church, Stephanie. Stephanie told me that she had found a beautiful white kitten on our local golf course. She said that her mom told her she could not keep it and needed to take it back. She could not find anyone to take it, and she did not want to take him back to the golf course. She called me asking what to do….fate.

Thankfully, Mike was home….fate. We hopped in the car and drove up the street to Stephanie’s house. We walked in and saw an emaciated, flea riddled, filthy, matted haired - white kitten. The only thing attractive on this kitten was its green eyes that had a sparkle….a sparkle of hope…and a soft pink nose. Mike took ONE look at him and said, do not take him back to the golf course, he is coming home with us…..fate.

I was shocked with Mike’s reaction as we already had a cat, Mokie, and that was MORE than enough….or so I thought. We had no idea how Mokie would feel as his territory was now going to be invaded. Mokie was hesitant at first, but not this new white cat. As feeble and frail as he was, he marched right up to Mike’s recliner and sat in it, just as if he had done so a million times before. I quickly fed him water and cat food and cleaned him up as best I could. He then hopped up on the back of the couch and fell right asleep….he KNEW he was home….he KNEW he was safe. He slept peacefully for a very long time.

Even though his belly was beyond full at this time, you could still see EVERY bone in his body. As emaciated as he was, I imagine he would not have lasted another 24 hours. He was excessively young to be on his own, and obviously, he and his littermates had been dumped at the golf course. Stephanie said that she called to them, but the “white one” was the only one that came to her….fate. He was so small at this time - we didn’t even know he was a “he” yet.

Now it was time for a name….we thought of all the common “white” names…Frosty, Snowball, etc….but none of them fit. At this time he had a patch of fur right smack dab in the center of his forehead that was grey….it looked like he bonked his head on something “dusty”…hence DUSTIE! The “ie” came just because our other cat is Mok”ie”. It fit, and it was the perfect name for him….even though that “dust” spot faded away just as quickly as his ribs receded into properly nourished flesh!!!!

The next day I took him to our local veterinarian, Dr. Tracy J. Patton, whom we consider more than just a vet…he is the one whom we trust with the very lives of our fur family members and whom we consider a friend. Dr. Patton’s technician could not even identify if he was male or female, I don’t know if it was because he was so young, or because he was so frail!! Dr. Patton actually thanked us for rescuing him and said he seemed like he would have a great personality….and boy was he right!!!

Dustie grew into the most amazing cat, I have ever had the immeasurable pleasure of loving, YES, I said LOVING. For example, Dustie hummed, he did not meow (see post from 1-20-09 for more on his humming). Dustie hummed to us all of the time. Dustie had no greater pleasure in life than to sit and sun bathe in the window all day while chattering to the array of birds in the window. His favorite bird watching/sun bathing spot was our front bay window. Even the neighbors would comment about the pretty white cat that was always in the front window. Every day when I would come home from work, there was Dustie, looking out the window. I’d like to think he was waiting for me, but I’m sure he was just fascinated in his bird watching. I strategically placed bird feeders at several of the windows that were Dustie’s favorites (which are still there today, and will remain there). He never tired of looking out the window; however, he NEVER tried to venture back outside. NEVER. Anytime a door was opened to the outside world, he would run the other direction….as if to say, PLEASE don’t let me go back out there, I like it here.

At night, you could hear Dustie snoring, as he would somehow manage to sleep with his head upside-down like a kitty contortionist. Somehow, he would know when we Mike and I were fast asleep as he would come on our bed and sniff in our ears ever so gently. If we “acted” as if we were sleeping, he would then proceed to groom our hair! Yes, he would groom us. He usually didn’t spend too much time on my hair as my hair was long and I’m sure too cumbersome for a kitty cosmetologist. Mike’s hair is a different story. It was nothing for him to spend 10 minutes on Mike’s hair. Sometimes Mike would actually sleep through it, but being the light sleeper that I am, I would hold in my giggles until Dustie groomed his friend and found a place to go drift off to sleep. Mike told me the other day that what he will miss the most is Dustie’s humming. Mike will also miss the times when he would watch TV on the couch, Dustie would hop up on the back of the couch and sniff his ears and groom his hair and then lie down and take a nap on the back of the couch behind Mike’s shoulders. Mike and Dustie had a bond…I think Dustie knew that Mike is the one that made the decision for him to stay with us and they always had a special sort of kindred spirit. Dustie never purred louder than when Mike was petting him.

Dustie was the only cat I have ever known that did NOT like Tuna! He did not like much human food at all…except for lunchmeat and green olive juice. How do I know he liked green olive juice??? ….because I was making a salad and the next thing I hear is a licking noise. I turn around and there is Dustie on TOP of my kitchen counter with his ENTIRE head in the olive jar….at least he was happy. :o) Another oddity was Dustie LOVED to play in the water…he loved to sleep in the bathroom sink and loved to play in the shower water. He would bat at the water droplets on the shower curtain for the longest time. Anytime anyone got out of the shower, you would soon hear that all too familiar "batting" of the plastic curtain. One thing is for sure, Dustie loved his Whisker Lickin treats!! If he wanted a treat you would KNOW it…he would HOLLER at you until you got up from whatever you were doing and followed him. He would not wait! When he wanted a treat, he wanted it NOW!! He would lead you into the master bath right to the drawer where his treats were stowed. Smart kitty.

Sadly, Dustie was taken (all too soon) from us on Monday January 19, 2009. Dustie had a very rare, but deadly autoimmune disease. I am not a vet, but this is what my grief-stricken heart understands. Basically, he got a “virus” and his own immune system that should have “killed” the virus went into hyper drive and actually helped lead the virus to his body’s core. There, his body would continually produce these cells (macrophages) that were ineffective at killing off the virus and his abdomen began to fill with this fluid. Had we not put him down, eventually he would have suffocated, as the fluid would have pressed against his lungs. We knew we made the right decision as soon as we saw the x-ray of his fluid filled abdominal cavity. Dr. Patton assured us that at that time he was not in any pain (and it is my earnest prayer that he was not in pain), but he soon would be. Sadly, there is no cure or treatment for this terrible disease, only palliative care. We knew that Dustie had had enough.

We spent a few more precious moments with our beloved Dustie, before saying one last heartfelt goodbye. We held him and assured him of how happy he made us and how we could have never asked for a better cat. We let him know how he filled both our hearts and lives with so much joy, laughter and happiness. We told him thank you for all the laughs we had over his silly antics. Mike and I sadly said our final goodbyes and sealed it with a kiss on his precious forehead. It was not until after BOTH of us uttered, “I love you Dustie” that we heard a very low and all so faint “meow” from him. Mike and I looked at each other and could do nothing but cry, as we knew he was telling us “thank you, I love you too, goodbye”.

Afterward, the techs from Dr. Patton’s office printed off the Rainbow Bridge Poem and took the (much-appreciated) time to put Dustie’s paw prints on the bottom of the paper for us. I can’t tell you how much I cherish that piece of paper.

We took Dustie home, and put him in his cat bed to burry him. We buried him under one of his favorite bird feeders. Just as Mike and I turned to walk back inside…..Stephanie drove by. The very one that called us 7.5 years ago to tell us she found a kitten….. Fate had come full circle….or as I would prefer to say….unconditional love…had come full circle.

To Dustie – Thank you, for loving us with an altruistic and pure love. Your spirit was just as pure as your beautiful white coat. Thank you for showing us what true unconditional love is. Thank you for showing us that we need to take time each day to rest, play, and of course, watch the birds. You came to us timid, shy, scared, alone, unkempt and unloved. You quickly grew into a beautiful, pure, happy, nurturing, talkative, graceful, elegant and deeply loved part of our family. You were a blessing. Our home will never be the same, our lives will never be the same. For a cat, it is amazing how much you taught us without one word ever being uttered. We are deeply saddened that your amazing life story was cut way to short. Dustie, we will never forget you…..Dustie, we miss you…..Dustie, we love you……

Special thanks to:
Dr. Tracy J. Patton and his amazing staff @
All About Animals
415 S. Hwy. 88
Claremore, OK 74017

Below is our first picture of Dustie. As you can tell, it only took a few days for his belly to get full!!

Dustie in his favorite window seat, just watching the birds.

Helping me quilt.

Dustie on a Christmas Morning.

After he finished playing in the shower.

Somehow he always knew where the clean clothes were.

This is my favorite pictures of Dustie and Mokie together.

~~~Dustie~~~ June 30,2001 - January 19,2009~~~

Below are some other posts of Dustie.


Seleise said...

bless your heart. Dustie looks adorable and Moki looks like a great kitty too. Big Hugs!

stampin'fool said...

Great story. I cried so hard it took me longer to read the rest of the story cause i could not see. I know what you mean when you said unconditional love. I found my cat when she was only 4 days old and i can not imagine what it would be like if I lost her. My heart goes out to you and mike.

KraftyKerilou said...

What a wonderful story, Melissa! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I have a very tender heart for animals, and have had several pet losses in the last 5 years, so I can relate to how you feel. I hope you will continue to heal. The Lord gave us these friends for a short time, but OH, what a time we have with them!!

Diana said...

Your writing is beautiful. What a wonderful story. As I read your story it brought tears to my eyes and it reminded me of when we had to put our Rotty down 3 years ago.

K T Sparks said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I got tears in my eyes and chocked up when I read about it. Dustie will be in your hearts forever. I am greiving my loss of my beloved dogs and I know how you feel....lonely. With Sympathy a fellow pet lover

Stacy said...

What a sweet story! I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to have to share with us. Hugs!

Bridgett said...

Oh my gosh! Gentle hugs!!! I do not own any pets because I know right now we cannot take care of any and I feel it's best not to own a pet you cannot love and care for, but I do love animals and this story just breaks my heart. I can hear the love and attachment throughout the story. I know you made Dustie's life so wonderful for those short 8 years and I believe in my heart that he knew you were doing the best you could for him...always thinking of him before yourself. I hope Mokie isn't having a hard time with the loss of his brother. GENTLE HUGS and PRAYERS FOR COMFORT!!!!