Putting this piece up here on this blog is an act of courage for me. Some will judge me for what I have done. And if you are one of those, I ask that you please pass your judgment quietly since I am feeling too vulnerable to hear it in this moment.
Several weeks ago, I posted about my cat, Suzanne. Suzanne has a peeing problem. She’s a very emotional cat and is also extremely particular about her kitty litter condition. And since I’m not so good at ‘cat-ese’, in the eleven and a half years that she lived with me, when I’d discover another damp spot I could not always discern what had prompted that latest pee lapse.
But I’d still have to deal with cleaning up the pee – generally on my bed. Sometimes on a pile of clothes in my bedroom. My old washing machine and dryer got a significant workout in the aftermath.
That was in my old house. The very house that is being closed on in eight days. The very same house that is now mostly empty and various material things from it strewn to different destinations.
And I and Suzanne (along with all of my worms in the worm condo), as physical living beings, have transitioned to an 11ft x 11ft bedroom in a friend’s house outside of Frederick. The plan is that I will rent the entire house come Jan. 1.
At least that was how it was until yesterday. Today it is only me (and the worms). I drove Suzanne to a rural farm, a clean, organized looking one – the gentleman farmer type – gently pulled her out of the box, buried my face in her fur for the last time and told her that I loved her through muffled tears. Next I whispered into her fur to ‘go for the barn’ (that was several hundred feet away) several times just before depositing her along the driveway inside the gate.
Oh, it is very painful to be reliving this right now as the image of her mewing just inside that gate flashes in my thoughts. She looked confused and pitiful and I felt like a cold-hearted monster ‘dumping’ her.
My first night here was Tues night and by Sat am – yesterday – she had peed twice. Once on one of my landlord’s couch and the other time on the other couch. I caught her the second time just yesterday morning slinking off the bigger couch with that all too familiar look of guilt in her eyes. And sure enough, she had just peed. Later I realized that it soaked into the cushions and deeply into the fabric and padding under the cushions too.
Oh, this is so, so hard. I am desperately working to forgive myself for this action. Yet, Suzanne was living on borrowed time with me all of those years that I put up with the peeing and washing and peeing and washing. Very few cat owners would have tolerated that.
And I weighed taking her to a shelter when it was clear yesterday morning that she was not trustworthy in this new house…also. Someone would adopt her in a heartbeat. She’s a beautiful calico cat with tabby stripes in the calico patches and golden eyes. And she’s very sweet, and affectionate in a feminine way. She has the most coy mannerisms as she brushes against one’s leg and twirls around the door frame to get one’s attention. She’s not only beautiful but lovable.
But this new person or family would take her home and then she’d have an emotional moment. And pee. And I don’t think they’d take lightly to that. She’d probably get yelled at, thrown outside or into the basement – all those things that I did early on – and it would upset her only more. They might even physically hurt her and I could not abide by that possible future for her.
So I released her by a small horse farm with a big, very neat-looking barn. It was as if I was guided to this farm in my raw emotional state of sorrow and tears yesterday morning. It just felt ‘right’.
And after I left her there and drove about a mile down the road, I pulled over and sobbed into my steering wheel. This was just about one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since making the decision to put my cat Max to sleep in April. But this was different. Suzanne was not conveying to me that she wanted to go, as Max did in those final days with him.
I had hoped that I would be able to keep Suzanne here with me in this new home. But I could never trust her. Plus, the peeing dynamics just could not fly in another person’s home.
When I got back to the my new home, a daze of sorrow enveloped me. I went into the garage to start to clean-up her cat things and realized that the condition of the kitty litter box was just beyond what Suzanne could tolerate. I had been working so hard driving back and forth from Baltimore to Frederick for the past three days, with incredibly long hours that I had not been tending her kitty litter.
So this was my fault. Sigh.
It struck me that it was really not just Suzanne who was the problem. It was the dynamics between the two of us that was the problem. I never cleaned the kitty litter as regularly as she would have liked. Though, to give myself some slack, sometimes I had just cleaned it and she would still pee somewhere on my bed or close to it.
As with most times when I need some solace, I then filled my smudge bowl up and sat outside on my friend’s deck and connected with Creator and Earth Mother. I just gave myself over to stilling the pummeling thoughts in my mind to pray and listen as the smoke from the bowl wafted around me and into the trees off the deck. Then I got that this letting go of Suzanne was part of my shedding process.
I’ve shed my house. My gardening business and primary source of income. A warm community of friends whom are now a solid drive away – forty minutes plus instead of five. And now I’ve shed my only companion who is warm and friendly and purrs like a motor sometimes (it took her two years to finally purr after I took her in as a kitten).. and gave me love. She gave me love.
And the grief that I was suppressing for so many weeks finally surfaced yesterday. Having the space to be still after all the packing and moving and logistics – and then realizing that Suzanne could not stay with me here – oh, such losses. Depths of sorrow that felt like tendrils of quicksand started to pull me down.
This hard sorrow mixed with guilt over my treatment of Suzanne swallowed me up for most of the day. I had not felt that bleak in a long time. Faint shades of depression surfaced but I just let them go.
Gratefully, my landlady is an extremely compassionate and kind and beautiful woman, and she took the news about her couch and Suzanne with such grace and gentleness. She said that she understood and would send myself and Suzanne love.
And then other friends supported me. One called and just listened as I cried a little.
And I kept on thinking about the years-long dynamic between myself and Suzanne, and the kitty litter box. Max, my other cat who had passed in April never cared if the kitty litter was dirty. He’d just still go ahead and use it. But Suzanne was more sensitive.
Maybe, just maybe, the people who owned the little horse farm where I just left her would take her in and they were the type of people who cleaned kitty litter boxes everyday. Or maybe they’d find another home for her where someone is very hyper diligent about kitty litter.
Maybe I was just not good enough for Suzanne on that level. I certainly gave her a tremendous amount of love and positive feedback. She really taught me the significance of ‘unconditional positive regard’, a term that is used by those in the healing arts. The safer she felt around me and the cleaner her kitty litter was, the less prone she would be to peeing.
Sensitive. She was just so sensitive. As are many people, including myself. Sigh.
I am praying this morning. I am praying that Suzanne is okay. My instincts tell me that she is okay and in a room that is warm and people are feeding her and trying to figure out why such a sweet kitty would just appear in their lives.
I am praying that all of this transition and shedding only helps me be more sensitive to others in their challenges. And also that I can really forgive myself for this act of giving Suzanne a new start in life, as I’m starting my new phase. Mine was voluntary and conscious. Hers was rather involuntary. I’ve got some deep work to do on the forgiveness level.
And now I’m living with other beautiful women and not simply a cat. This is a new opening and opportunity to grow and heal. My heart muscles are being very much tested already and will only continue to grow more resilient, I am praying.
I will continue to pray, and live with my humanness and all the imperfections I so blessedly possess.
I’m a kind of intuitive person and the interesting thing is that I have been tuning in to Suzanne since I dropped her off yesterday morning and I am fairly certain that she was taken in just hours after I left her. And that she was in a closed off room last night but warm and fed, and that wherever she is right now… they are trying to figure out if they can keep her. There is disagreement in the house about it — feels like a couple trying to sort it out. Last night what I was picking up was the question that this couple kept on putting out there — “Why would anyone drop off such a nice kitty?” Today the question is: “Whether they can keep her or not.”
I’m totally trusting Earth Mother on this one… I was guided to that farm and know that Mother will take care of her. Not sure if she’ll ever recover from her peeing/emotional stuff but hopefully these people will give her a good, good home.