Winnie the cat

This is my spoiled rotten, gorgeous cat…

This photo was taken on Wednesday night, after I’d taken her to the vet.  She doesn’t like the vet, let alone a vet with broken air conditioning on a hot Summer’s night.  So, on top of the usual indignities that accompany visiting a vet, she was heat stressed as well.  This wouldn’t have bothered many cats, but my gorgeous cat is now 16 years old.  She’s also starting to experience kidney failure.

The one constant in my life for the last 16 years, is dying.

To put her into my life context, I got Winnie one cold Winter’s night when I was living in Wellington.  She had been caught in a humane cat-trap, in an effort to ease the number of stray cats in the area.  She was worm ridden and tiny.  She purred as soon as I picked her up and cuddled her on my lap.  She was so tiny, but determined.  She had a stubborn streak in her a mile wide.  She had decided that I would make an acceptable feeder, but she wasn’t so sure about my partner.  Winnie never did like any of the people that I was involved with… considering who they were, she has proven to be a better judge of character than I.

Winnie accompanied me when I went to university.  She sat with me through late night studying.  Threw up in the car during my travels between my home town and where I went to university.  She traveled in my car through rough ferry crossings, and my loud off-key singing.  Sometimes she’d come and curl up on my lap, sleeping the whole trip; sometimes she’d stand on my lap and peer over the steering wheel, almost like she was trying to drive us home quicker.

She proved time and time again, that cats were smarter than dogs.  Well, at least smarter than a previous flatmates Great Dane.  Winnie would sit on the couch with quiet dignity, watching the Great Dane run in faster and faster circles around the house – until a human happened to get in her way.  You could almost hear Winnie tsking at the stupid antics of a dog with more energy than brains.  I do like dogs too, but this Great Dane happened to be the dumbest dog I’ve ever met.

When I moved back to my home town, Winnie was a cat in heaven… a fire which produced good heat. But, it was soon after moving back, that I moved in with my now ex-husband.  Winnie never liked him, but tolerated him with a disdain which fluctuated depending on whether he was offering her chicken or not – her weakness is cooked chicken.  I was with him for approximately nine years, and she was my constant companion.  She would come into the study with me when I was woken with the nightmares, or recovering from the abuse he inflicted.  She would follow a young part who was scared and wandering the house.  She would tolerate me picking her up and cuddling her – for a short time anyway.  She seemed to know when I needed her companionship.

More recently, she comes with me whenever I venture outside into the garden.  It makes both of us feel safer to know the other is nearby.  When I go out driving at night, she is always waiting in the doorway to the lounge when I get home – almost like she’s checking that I’ve found my way back.

She’s often used as an excuse by parts of the system why we can’t complete suicide.  In a world that had seemed out of control and full of pain, she’s been the one consistent positive factor.  Now she’s dying.  I know that she could have been taken at any point through accident or illness, but kidney failure can be awful.  In the factsheet the vet gave me, I read the list of symptoms and freaked.  I can’t let Winnie go through that.  No way.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  But there’s been chaos in the system ever since we knew we had to take her to the vets.  We were half expecting not to bring her home on Wednesday.  But, the vet said that we were to come back in three months for more blood tests, so they’re expecting her to still be alive then.

I’ve always valued her more than myself.  When I was too poor to buy food, her food was always purchased first.  But I can’t fix this.  I can’t fix her and it’s causing chaos.  I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.

One moment at a time…

Now playing: Sarah McLachlan – Angel
via FoxyTunes


38 thoughts on “Winnie the cat

  1. Dear castor, I’m so so sorry that your dear friend is growing old. She sounds like a wonderful being and I’m so glad you’ve had her in your life and that she’s comforted you through so many difficult times. I still think of my cat I had growing up and through high school, I feel like he is one of the first creatures that truly taught me to love. By caring for his needs and wishes above my own. I have a cat now that I’ve had since before I met my husband. I love him so much and tell him so all the time, remembering more and more each day that my time with him is limited. It’s one of the worst pains, but one of the best friends we could have. We love them and we do our best for them and we honor them always. Like you are doing here. Even though they don’t live forever in their bodies, I think those of us who truly love an animal will always keep him or her with us in some way. That’s how it feels to me about losing the ones I love. Safe hugs to you all through this painful time.

    • Thank you so much katie, your words brought comfort and tears…

      I worry that I will lose her memory in the dissociation. I used to have a cat during high school, and I don’t remember her at all. What if I lose Winnie in my head as well?

      Sorry, rhetorical questions…

      Take care,

      • dear castor, i think if dissociation interferes with your memory of winnie, it will only be because your mind is working to protect you from the pain of this loss. but i don’t think your memories are ever gone, just hidden until you are ready to remember. i think that’s how grief works for all of us actually.

        but she will always be in your heart. and you can keep photos of her around if that helps. i’m sure that deep down, no matter what you recall consciously, your memories of her will remain as will the truth of the love and comfort she has brought you. few of us have been brought such peace by another being. safe hugs to you, castor~~~

  2. I’m very sorry about Winnie’s illness… I know how much she means to you. Thank you for the wonderful description of what she means to you and what she’s done for you.

    This is one of the issues that those of us with DID have to contend with: there are so few times in our lives when we really know what love and affection and faithfulness are. Animals can do that.

    Perhaps your system can use this as an opportunity to learn and heal and grow. Maybe it will be a route to grieving for yourself. Maybe you can know that Winnie has helped you so much, and now there are things she has taught you that you have to do on your own. And, above all, maybe Winnie could teach you that you need to value yourself.

    • Thank you Paul.

      I don’t know what I can learn from this. I fear that it will be another sign to the young ones within the system that everyone/everything abandons you eventually. That it’s better not to love to begin with.

      Sorry, I’m obviously still struggling with it all.

      Take care,

  3. I can empathize with you and your beloved cat. I’m so sorry to hear about the news. You are lucky to have a cat so long! Many cats do not fare as well and it’s good to know that she has been such a blessing to you, and I’m sure you to her as well.

    My cat also seems as though he is on the way out, now at 13. Oddly enough, my cat purrs so loudly at the vet that they have a hard time listening to his heart!

    Is there anything they can do to make her more comfortable or is there a way to avoid going back to the vet in the case that you have to end things peacefully? I know some vets here make house calls.

    Lots of love to you & your kitty. XX

    • Thanks Sanity.

      I’m surprised that Winnie has been with me so long, as I’ve lived near busy roads and country highways. She’s also a very timid cat. I am thankful to have had her for so long, I truly am.

      I’m sorry your cat is also ill. 13 is also a good age… especially when you consider that they have “Senior” food for cats starting at 7 years.

      I don’t know if the vets do house calls, but the vet I saw last week was truly lovely. Really understanding and empathetic.

      Sending lots of positive thoughts to you and your kitty,

  4. I am sorry to hear about Winnie, but she has done well to reach 16 years. Obviously she is very well looked after and cared for.

    Animals are great companions and brilliant judges of character.

    It seems the vet is universally hated by all animals. I remember one of our farm dogs going to the vet with a broken leg trying to run away and then resorting to trying to bite the vet while under anaesthesia. Hard and uncomplicated mongrel, but Dad loved that dog. You always remember your pets even if they were farm dogs.

    The vet obviously knows that Winnie is not experiencing any pain as they have told you to come back in 3 months, so you can take some comfort there.

    This may sound a little cruel, but would it be worth in the future getting another cat? The companionship is obviously a source of strength and a constant in your life. It is not a replacement for Winnie as she cannot be replaced, but provides some assurance for the future and maybe they will borrow some of Winnies traits. An apprentice so to speak.

    Take care of yourself and your cat.

    • I echo Ringonz’s “cruel” comment. My daughter’s violin teacher had his cat die, and we were all sad because we came to like seeing the cat there every week, and petting him, etc. He died.

      One day we showed up for her lesson and her teacher’s face was beaming. He had two kittens. They were gorgeous, playing, having fun. A new source of compansionship… Yes, Winnie can never be replaced, but in the future when she is not here, you can find that companionship again.

      • I don’t know Paul. I can feel myself withdrawing from everything, and I’m not sure if I can ever open myself up to being hurt like this again. I know hurting is part of life, doesn’t mean I have to like it, or open myself up to it.

        Take care,

    • Hi Ringonz,

      Farm dogs have a special place in their owners hearts. I remember when a neighbours farm dog had to be put down, the farmer was devastated. They are a constant companion, guard dog and worker.

      I don’t know if she will last three months, as her symptoms are starting to be fairly pronounced. She’s not suffering though.

      It’s not a cruel suggestion at all. But at the moment, I can’t even go there.

      Thank you and take care,

      • “Farm dogs have a special place in their owners hearts.” Some do, some don’t. It all depended on how good they were and if they were kept on the farm. Some were given away, others… I won’t mention what became of them, but I don’t remember any being put down for being useless. The good ones were essentially pets albeit a little smellier and lived outside… and had the amazing ability to lick your ear on the motorbike.

        I understand. It is a difficult thing for anyone who has had a pet dog or cat for any length of time, they become family and you can share things with them as you know they cannot tell anyone anything.

        You mentioned that it seems Winnie is easily replaceable and you are worried you may forget her. I can only imagine how difficult this aspect is. Losing pets and loved ones was always difficult, but they are never forgotten through photos and writing. No other animal will have the same traits as your cat, but they will provide comfort and companionship when it is needed… and you could always call your next cat Winnie Jr. or Winnie II 🙂

        Spoil Winnie and yourself rotten. You both deserve it and you can at least get some joy out of these difficult times.

        • Ahhh… you obviously haven’t visited my world… All farm dogs are excellent companions, loved, and treated like my neighbours were. All lambs survive. The bobby calves at the gate are going to a better home. I like my world 🙂

          I know what you’re saying about the writing and photos, but I have a tendency to destroy those things. I no longer have any photos of when I was young (except one blurry one) because I’ve destroyed them. I don’t have any photos of my cat during high school for the same reason. What if I destroy all of Winnie’s stuff too? What if I forget her?

          Sorry, I know I’m not sounding all that rational. I know that I dissociate away the tough stuff… Cloudie is already gone from my mind in everything but a name.

          Winnie will be very spoiled 🙂

          Take care,

          • I cannot say I have visited your world.

            What if you don’t? Cloudie and your old cat were from your childhood, so it is somewhat understandable you have forgotten them and destroyed all the pictures. Winnie is part of your healing and is associated to a different time, so maybe things will be different. I suppose you can only try.

            Well this post about Winnie is on the internet and now cannot be destroyed easily.

            I don’t sound irrational at all. Everything you have said so far makes sense.

            Don’t forget to spoil yourself.

            Take care.

            • Well my world does require the selective reading and watching of the news, and lots of talking to myself when following the calves in trailers. But if I don’t, there’s all sorts of chaos inside.

              I see what you mean about the memories. I’ll talk with Allison about it tonight, as I know this is causing all sorts of problems for me.

              Thanks and take care,

  5. This is such a beautiful post. I really am so sorry she’s sick (despite my earlier insensitivity). It’s such a difficult time. It sounds to me like Winnie had the bestest life a cat could have.

    I strongly believe cats are a better judge of character than we mere humans. My little kitty has proven that a number of times. And, like Winnie, she seems to know when I need her, or need a cuddle, she’s there.

    Paul’s right – you’ll never replace Win, but you can find that same companionship. My kitty has proven that to me.

    Please take care.

    • Thanks Kerro.

      Winnie is spoiled, and she seems to know it 🙂 She’s trained me fairly well over the last 16 years… she regularly gets her favourite treats and meats; the air conditioning is left on for her so she can escape the heat or cold of the day; and she has about 5 beds set up for her around the house – she ignores all of them in favour of my folded washing on a regular basis 🙂

      I’m glad you have your companion with you to help you through the rough times. It’s amazing how healing it can be to stroke their fur and feel the purring.

      Take care,

  6. we are so very, very sorry.

    treasure the time she has left with you
    and know that she will always be
    in your heart and in your soul
    and you in hers.

  7. AWE Hunny I am sending you BIG hugs! I am so sorry to read this. Sounds like your furry soulmate is going to be watching over you from pet heaven. I have been thru this and I know how sad it can be. I hope at some point you can find another one that will purr in your lap in memory of Winnie. When I have lost an endeared pet and gotten another..I tell them all about the prior one and I swear they get it and honor the memory with me. Hug Winnie for me…and I am so sorry your going thru this!

    • Thank you Nansie… I believe that cats can pick up on your emotions. So, I can see why they would pick up on the emotions as you tell of a previous cat friend.

      Take care,

  8. These precious souls who teach us so much can never be replaced, but many of us are honored by more than one in a lifetime. There may be another looking for you, down the road. In the mean time, you still have time with your sweet girl. Time to cherish her, and time to think about everything she has shown you about love and caring and loyalty. You’ve saved each other, and the light that brings to your life won’t be extinguished when the time comes for her to leave you. She may need to move on, but the purity of that love remains.

    • Thank you so much David. Your words mean a great deal to me. I realise from reading them, that young ones within the system are terrified that if Winnie is so easily replaceable, then so are they. As I said, Winnie means more to us than us; so if she is replaceable, then what are we? Disposable and worthless.

      She is going to be spoiled rotten over the coming weeks, I can tell 🙂

      Again, thank you.

      Take care,

  9. I remember feeling much the same way when the cat I grew up with died at the age of seventeen. I was in my early twenties, and her loss hit me and my system much harder than I had realized it would; she lived with my parents, so I wasn’t in daily contact with her toward the end of her life.

    I did have a part of me, though, who was eventually able to find a glimmer of the concept that when we build on a foundation of love that a beloved creature has given to us, we are not replacing … we are honoring, in a very profound way. When I got a cat of my own, a couple of years later, she was not a replacement for the cat I’d lost … she was the continuation of the good things that dear animal had shown me, and which I wanted to continue to give and receive. Nobody, nothing, nothing in this world will ever take the place of that cat … and nothing will ever take the place of the girls I have now. This is a really hard thing for young insiders, who often don’t have that sense of life continuity. I know how confusing and scary it can be for them. I also know, from my own experience, that it is good for them to have something safe to love, and to be loved by. You and they may find that if another angel in the form of an animal crosses your path, you will feel that it’s right, just as Winnie was right when all of you rescued her.

    This is one of the very hardest types of loss for a trauma survivor, and although you are so afraid, I see a lot of grace in how you are processing and thinking about this, and a lot of awareness of your own safety and needs. Those are very good things in a difficult place.

    • Thank you David, your words in combination with talking with Allison tonight have helped clarify some of the issues and thinking around Winnie.

      It’s become a clash of ideals in my head, some who prescribe the parents way of dealing with everything; and the ones who are hurting and want to do things differently – but don’t know how. It feels as if the clinical ones want to take over, but their motivation is to protect the others from the pain.

      Thank you for being so open about your experiences David. I know how much you treasure your girls; so for you to be able to do that while still honouring the cat you had growing up, means a great deal.

      Take care,

  10. Sounds like Winnie has taken good care of you these past years. Keep her safe, comfortable, calm and continue to treat her like a queen, with all of the respect and dignity she’s due. She will always be with you, and you’ve cared for her in a way you were never cared for. I think that is a huge accomplishment, and from the look on Miss Winnie’s face, so does she (She can’t admit that of course.).

    My 13 yo, Queen Precious, and I wish both of you peace and love, and we are so sorry about your health problems and feeling sad and unsure. We will be keeping you and Winnie in our thoughts.


  11. Hi CG,

    Thank you for sharing the CG & Winnie story (or rather part of it, I’m sure there’s a lot to that story.)

    What struck me most about this post was the line, “The one constant in my life for the last 16 years, is dying.”

    That’s more than the loss of a pet. It sounds like, from this post, it’s the loss of reliable love and affection and, essentially, your primary lifeline. (Please forgive me if I’m misreading your words.) I hope you can continue to write about this as you’re able and if it feels comfortable. It seems like one of those things where the more support you have the better.

    • Hi Holly,

      “it’s the loss of reliable love and affection and, essentially, your primary lifeline” … yes, yes, and yes.

      I will never have children. I doubt that I will ever have another partner in my life. Winnie has provided stability, consistency and a sense of responsibility for another living thing.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do without her, and that.

      Thank you for understanding.

      I don’t know how much I can write about this, as it’s brought up so many of my old, family based coping mechanisms. They aren’t nice coping mechanisms, and to say that I’m ashamed and embarrassed about them, is an understatement. Allison tried to assure me that they were consistent with what she knows of my family, and therefore usual. But that doesn’t mean that they are causing me much confusion as I try to fight my way to healthier responses.

      Take care,

  12. So sorry about your sweet Winnie! I dread the day something happens to one of our kitties and they’re not nearly as old as Winnie is. The two of you have truly blessed each other over the years. I can only imagine the chaos for your system. Be sure to take good care of yourselves.

    • Thank you Michelles… I used to say that Winnie was not allowed to pass away. I know that’s irrational, but that’s how I thought for ages, the fear of losing her was so great.

      I hope you and your kitties have a long time together…

      Take care,

  13. When I read this I couldn’t help but think my best friend ever, Captain Crunch who died of cancer 2 years ago. We did all the stuff you mentioned. Our bond was incredible. The loss is something that hits me like a ton of bricks from time to time. It’s gotten better but sometimes it comes down on me and I miss the friendship you spoke of with your Winnie. I’m so sorry about her. I know how hard this is…. boy do I know.

    This entry here talks about the helpless feeling I had when Captain was nearing his end.
    This Strong Panther

    Also, yes, GD’s aren’t the smartest dogs in the world. They’re big and beautiful but they aren’t that smart. Guss is a Dane and German Shepard mix. Sometimes the Dane in him comes out and he has a duh moment that makes me laugh. It’s a good thing he’s cute and likes to cuddle, if not there’d be nothing to balance his empty headedness. LOL. I fear sometimes he might forget to breathe, he’s so stupid. LOL I love that boy though. LOL He was a wonderful gift after losing my boy Captain. He has helped me get through this huge loss and has helped fill the space Captain left. The space seems so big sometimes but Gus has been here to help me through it. I love him for it, I really do. They say animals give us unconditional love but I say they give us more than that. They give us a reason to keep going. They give us something to nurture, to depend on, to trust and to partner up with in our healing journey. They give and keep giving. Beautiful gifts from God is what they are, simply beautiful souls.


    • The GD I knew was so lovable, it was incredible. She would do the silliest of things, but always with this huge smile on her face. You couldn’t resent any of the silly things she did, they just made you smile too.

      Thank you Austin, I’ll read your post when I’m in a better frame of mind… It’s good to know that I’m not over-reacting about this.

      Take care,

  14. How is your cat doing now? I know exactly how painful this is. My family had a cat that was with them before I was born and was honestly my best friend until it died when we were in our teens. I still can’t talk about it now without crying and not much makes me cry.
    Nowadays I have a faithful kitty that I love and just try not to think of the day when he’s no longer with us.
    I can’t believe your cat sat on your knee when you were driving! Our cat hates travelling and goes into a sort of ‘fake death’ state when forced to venture into the car. Maybe he’s dissociating. LOL

    • Hi Candycan,

      Winnie is having great days, and not so good days. Yesterday she stayed outside all day in the rain, mainly because I’d thrown bread on the lawn for the birds – Winnie likes watching them, but is thankfully now too slow to catch them.

      I’m glad you’ve had such good feline friends in your life 🙂

      Winnie explored the car, then decided she needed a nap, and my knee was probably the warmest place in the car. She was really funny that trip. She also seems to know the difference between going for a trip to the vets, and going on a holiday trip. She behaves very differently for each 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Take care,

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