goodbye Lola Jane

Today we say goodbye to Lola Jane Maxwell Henderson, the first cat I owned in my own right and did not just lay claim to via family rights and roommate situations.

The first time I laid eyes this tiny fur ball, I knew she’d be mine, even though my “now ex, then future” husband proclaimed to be allergic.

I figured, there are drugs he can take for that.

I adopted her from a woman who saved her from the wild. She was about 4 weeks old when we first met and being bottle fed. While I didn’t bring her home until she was 8 weeks, I saw her almost everyday during that time. (My EPW friends might remember this period in my life when I had a “kitty in a box” in my office.)

In the last 13 years, in addition to providing us joy, purrs, and more than a few scratches, Lola has defied death twice.

First, after her spay, she chewed the narcotic “pain patch” off her torso and ingested it, sending her into a drug overdose and us to the Betty Ford Clinic for Cats in the wee hours of the morning. (There is never a good time for the off-hours Animal ER.)

The second time, she was diagnosed with a recurring form of bladder stones that would require repeated operations to remove. We had just given birth to Colin and were in the process of trying to buy a house, thus thousands of dollars in vet bills were not affordable. We begged for alternatives. Meds. Food. The vet said nothing else would work but surgery. Until we scheduled her euthanasia, of course, at which point the vet gave Lola prescription food which she ate for a month, the stone dissolved, and she never had a recurrence.

We don’t go to that vet anymore.

She survived the birth of two little boys. She tolerated their toddler years then eventually adopted them as her own. She routinely sleeps on Colin’s bed. She was pissed off at first when we brought Fang and Fluffy home but grew to accept them and even gave Fluffy the cat equivalent of a fist bump upon her return from the wild. (We’ve had quite the Cat Spring.)

But the vet says there are no more miracles for Lola. A tumor on her heart the size of a grape and additional tumors on her lungs make breathing labored, and while she hasn’t stopped purring, she’s in great discomfort.

In a selfish way, I want to keep her until the natural end, but I know this isn’t the right thing to do. This morning, a mobile vet will come over and help ease her out of her misery.

As Jack said this morning when he found me sobbing, “it’s her time, Mommy.”

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crazy cat lady

who can say no to kittens?

I never intended to have three cats. Really, I was fine with my aging one, Lola. She had never really forgiven me for giving birth to Jack but had finally warmed up to me many years later.

Then a year and a half ago, Jack made the pitch for a new pet.

Me: We have a pet.

Jack: But she isn’t really mine since you had her before you had me.

I saw the logic in his argument but wasn’t ready to give in yet. I explained that owning a pet is a huge responsibility and that he needed to prove he was up for the challenge. I told him that if he cleaned out Lola’s litter box everyday for a month, I would take it as proof that he was ready for his own pet.

Of course, it didn’t happen. For six months, that is. Then one day last May, he did the job. And he did it again the next day. And the day after that. Everyday for one month.

Jack: Mom, I did it! Can we get a turtle?

A turtle seemed harmless. A turtle seemed cool. I’d long ago put the kibosh on lizards and snakes, but a turtle, specifically, the Red-Eared Slider (the most common pet turtle) seemed reasonable.

Until I polled my parenting listserve.

Parent One: Absolutely do not get a turtle.

Parent Two: We’re in the process of transferring our two turtles out of their 90 gallon tank they’ve outgrown. They require UVA light and UVB light and are very expensive.

Parent Three: Did your son tell you they can live to be 40 years old?

That did it. If our turtle lived to be 40 (and I’m sure it would) I’d be in my 80s and still be a turtle mommy.

I broke the news to the boys. No turtle.

Jack: But Mommy, Colin and I would take Sirius Black (the name they’d already decided on) to college with us.

Yeah, right.

That’s when I suggested kittens. Two kittens seemed like a good compensation for losing one turtle. I was told that two would be less stressful to Lola, as the little ones would play with each other and not pester her. Plus, one could sleep on Jack’s bed and one could sleep on Colin’s.

Yeah, right.

We got two kittens. We named them Fang and Fluffy, after Hagrid’s two dogs in Harry Potter. And much like Hagrid’s dogs are facetiously named, Fang is the fluffy and prissy one and Fluffy is the short-haired alpha kitty.

But do these (now full grown) cats “belong” to Jack and Colin. No way. I’m their mommy. They sleep on my bed. They follow me around the house. They don’t consider themselves fed unless I put the food in their bowls.¬†And, you guessed it, Jack no longer helps with the litter box.

I never thought I was a crazy cat lady though until the other day when I tweeted about Fang wanting to play fetch.

No wonder I haven’t been on a date in awhile.