Monday, October 09, 2023

Peaches, July 2009 - October 9, 2023

Peaches died in my arms shortly after midnight in the early morning hours of Monday, October 9, 2023.

Peaches was born during the kitten season of summer 2009, when so many kittens were born, and so many died. Her mother was a tortoiseshell we called Tortoise, and I have always counted Peaches as a pale Tortoiseshell, though others call her a Calico. She had a littermate we posthumously named Cream, a white kitten even more sickly than Peaches who died in the neighbor's garden after just a few weeks. Peaches lived in our yard for a few weeks, watching me from what she must have thought was a position of concealment, hissing at me if I looked her way or acknowledged her existence. After a while my mom decided the kitten needed to come inside, and she managed to catch her barehanded.

After she got a clean bill of health from the vet - or maybe before - we set ourselves to the task of naming her. My mom wanted to call her "Cloud." The neighbor lady suggested "Precious Face." We agreed to my suggestion, "Peaches," because she had the color scheme of a somewhat overripe peach.

She was mostly a quiet cat and kept to herself, at least at first. Eventually she buddied up with BlueBear, but after he died in 2017 at age eight, she was terribly lost for a while. In the last few years she had attached herself to my mom as her "special cat," competing with Babusz and Amber. Peaches was a plump cat with her fur stretched tight, making it difficult to pick her up by the scruff of the neck.

After my mom died Peaches attached herself to me, sitting at my side as I worked, and sometimes sitting on my hand as I tried using the mouse. I didn't mind. I knew she was going through a lot - we all were. She kept this up for a few months until one day she stopped. She suddenly wasn't there. Instead she had moved onto the kitchen table - sometimes sitting on any open surface, sometimes sitting on top of old stacks of mail. Sometimes she would sit and stare at the wall a few inches away. Sometimes she would stare at the wall and yowl.

She kept this up for several weeks until suddenly she wasn't there anymore. I did a quick search and found her in front of the oven on the other side of the kitchen. She mostly just lounged there, sometimes staring into the reflective surface of the black oven door. But sometimes she would let out yowls, something she had never done before she had moved onto the kitchen table. And sometimes she would let out another cry, a screaming, squalling cry like the sort a baby would make upon waking up hungry, frightened, and alone. If I were in the next room I would call to her and offer her assurances that the was not alone, that I was right here. That I loved her, and her mommy loved her, and everybody loved her. That was often enough to calm her.

Until one day in August she wasn't there, either. Where could she be? I searched the house twice and couldn't find her. Then I thought to look in the bathtub, and there she was. The weather had shot into the 90s and the air conditioning was struggling to keep the house in the low 80s, so the bathtub was the coolest spot around. That became her new place of refuge. I would pick her up and take her to the kitchen every few hours for meals - she had lost weight, and it was now becoming easier to carry her by her scruff.

In the morning, leery of startling her, I would sing songs to her as I approached, often made up on the spot - songs like "Peaches, Peaches, You're So Sweet" to the tune of "Biggie, Biggie, Can't You See," and "Little Peaches" to the cadence of the traditional "Hari Krishna" chant. And of course "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States of America.

Her crying continued, irregularly, and when I would rush to see what was the matter I would often find her sitting on the tile floor, waiting for me to come get her.

This continued until about two weeks ago. Then, suddenly, something came over her. She would no longer wait for me to come and get her for her feedings - she jumped out of the bathtub on her own, came out to the kitchen on her own, and jumped onto the kitchen chairs to get onto the kitchen table and her food bowl. Her appetite got stronger, so I had to open extra cans of food just for her. (She no longer wanted the kitten food that she had been eating for weeks, now she wanted the same food everyone else was eating.) She seemed to be gaining weight again.

That stopped a few days ago. She became less energetic, less willing to come out on her own. She eschewed the bathtub for other resting spots in the bathroom.

Saturday she became very picky about her food. Uninterested in anything as I opened can after can for her. For the first time since my mom went into the hospital, I found myself throwing away food.

Saturday I spent much of the day holding her while she dozed. Sunday more so. At first she would sleep only a few minutes, then awake with a start and decide she wanted to be somewhere else. On Sunday, early on, I decided that the somewhere else should be at the food and water bowls. It worked the first few times; she ate and drank with gusto. But as the day turned into night, she lacked the energy to even try to eat and drink.

As midnight approached, I knew the time was drawing near. I took her back into the parlor, sat in my chair, wrapped her in a blanket, held her in my arms, and covered her with another blanket. I sang her songs. I told her her mommy was waiting for her, how lucky she was that she would be the first of us to join her. I petted her, stroked her peach-colored fur, kissed her on the head. Bojangles came to join us for a few minutes.

After a while I knew she was gone. I kept petting her, kept singing to her. I checked the time - it was just after midnight. I sat holding her for the next hour to be sure. then I laid her out in a box and covered her with a blanket.

She was still dead in the morning.

This afternoon I took her to be cremated.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Amber in close-up

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently downloaded a magnifier app for my phone. I can save images from it, making it a good camera app for macro images. Today Amber jumped up on me for the umpteenth time. While my mom was alive Amber wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, but in the subsequent months she has completely attached herself to me. Like Peaches, like her littermate Spooky, Amber is fourteen years old, and I know she won't be around forever. I wanted to get a zoom of her amber hair, but she kept moving around, blurring the image. I did have a little more luck getting portrait shots of her, though.