Bye-bye, Harley

I have mentioned my mom’s cat a few times over the course of the blog. She’s the one who has a hate on for Trix. I think it’s more fear than hate, but it was always displayed as a big ol’ hiss. She was never a big fan of new people. When friends came over to mom’s place, she’d go and hide. Even unwrapping presents was enough to make her head for a room away from the action. Silly old girl.

Well, she’s a silly old girl who isn’t long for the world. I just found out that she’s gone down hill fast, and if she makes it to tomorrow morning, dad’s going to take her to the vet and have her put down. I feel for dad, having to do this alone. He isn’t an outwardly emotional guy, and he isn’t a huge animal-lover, but I know this’ll be hard for him.

I think old Harley was the pet we had the longest. I would have said Candy the little white fluffball of a toy poodle would have been it, but I’m pretty sure Harley has her beat. We got her the summer before I went to high school. My sister really wanted another cat. So…after a lot of thinking, mom decided it would be ok.

There was something about Harley that drew us to her. She had this line down her face that seemed to divide it in half, with different colours on each side of it, and we used to joke that she had a good half and an evil half. For a while, we were convinced she was Siamese because she had that super low meow, even as a kitten, and she was such an aloof creature. She would only really snuggle when she was tired of running around. But you knew she loved you…just from afar.

She was a really smart cat. She didn’t get into the stupidity that all the other cats got into, like jumping on counters and tables and stuff. She learned that I couldn’t see, so would meow if I was about to step on her. I still remember the time a blind friend came over, and she didn’t think she had to meow for her too…until my poor friend stepped on Harley. After she hissed and got over it, she meowed for my friend too.

She knew enough to not go out in the winter after she tried it the first time. Even looking at the snow was enough for her to lift a paw and shake it as if to say, “Ee, I remember that stuff. No thanks, I’ll stay in.” She liked to stay closer to home, too, and didn’t end up running off and getting hurt in fights with other cats. I think, out of all the cats, she gave mom the least trouble…

Except for that summer. I still giggle. She was approaching being a year old, and she’d already gone into heat. When Ro talks about Spinelli being in heat, I think of Harley because she was the same. We knew we’d have to get her spayed soon if we didn’t want kittens…

And then she went missing for a few days. We thought she was a goner, a few of our cats had wandered off and never come back. We lived in the country, so there was all kinds of trouble they could get into…plus there were other barns with food, and maybe they’d found another home.

But just like the song says, the cat came back. We were so happy to see her, and then we started to notice she was getting fatter. Oh nooo! We were going to have a litter of kittens on our hands. My sister figured out when she would probably have them, and right in that window, she had five cute kittens.

Poor Harley. She didn’t know what to do with herself all day. She kept trying to get outside. Then, when she figured out that wasn’t an option, she tried to find herself a corner of my brother’s closet, and started perring like a mad thing. We finally persuaded her that a better spot was in the cat carrier in the kitchen. But you had to stay right by her or she would come find you. Poor kitty.

She was really good with those kittens. She was never much of a mouser, but once she had those kittens, she’d kill anything she could. Birds, chipmunks, mmice, even a snake! She knew how to be a good mom. I still giggle when I remember how she would let them nurse and nurse and nurse, and then when she was eating, if they started muing too loud, she would growl at them to get them to shut up. If we weren’t sure where she was outside and we wanted her to come back in so we could go to bed, we would just pick up one of her kittens and stand by the door. She would hear that muing and come a runnin’. As they got bigger, she would want to bring them outside. She would kill something and show them. After we started feeding them food and she felt they didn’t need to nurse as much, she would just push them off. Tough love, I guess.

We got all those kittens homes at the end of the summer. That was fun, but we didn’t want a repeat performance. We got her spayed that fall. She was mom and dad’s only cat through the end of high school, when I went to university, through the days when Candy was getting old and not doing so well.

Things were pretty uneventful for a long time. I think the next thing poor old Harley didn’t appreciate was the arrival of Trixie. I would come to visit, and she’d go into hiding. I felt sad. I hardly ever got to pet Harley because I was always with Trix, or I smelled too much like Trix, so I was bad news too.

Then, a few months ago, she went blind. But she was still doing pretty well. She would hardly bump into anything, and seemed to enjoy her same routines. She was eating, drinking, being Harley. But I started to wonder how much longer we’d have her.

A couple of weeks ago, mom said that she opened the door, and Harley tried to go outside, and she didn’t stop, shake her paws and come back in. She wanted to keep going. I knew that sounded like bad news. Either she’d lost her mind, or she knew the end was near and wanted to go off and die somewhere. Either way, it didn’t sound like a good thing.

Then a couple of days ago, she got really really bad. She started getting confused, falling down stairs, walking in circles and not being comforted by being held. She stopped trying to jump up on the chair and sit with mom, she didn’t seem to be able to hear mom tapping the chair. Her back legs started to collapse. She was ancy all the time, and couldn’t even find her food. She got so disoriented that she started climbing shelves, and then would be hanging there, not able to get back down. Mom said if she didn’t watch her, she could hurt herself because of how hard she was trying to move, climb, go anywhere.

Last night, mom said her breathing got really laboured. Mom wasn’t sure if she was going to make it. But she did. But it’s just not a good scene.

It’s going to be weird coming home and there’s no cat. Harley was with mom and dad for 16 years. That’s a long life for a kitty…and it’s a big part of my life too. Aww Harl, I’ll miss ya. But I know the Harl I knew is already gone.

Yup, I’m a sap, writing a goodbye post to a kitty. But she was our kitty!

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