My Sweet Winnie

On Sunday, we had to say goodbye to my sweet little kitty Winnie.

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She had not really been herself for the last few weeks. She still seemed happy and pretty spry, jumping up on our bed (using the step that Evan made her), jumping on and off the couch, and using her litter box as normal, but she was not eating like she usually does. This did not alarm me at first. You may remember me mentioning that she was on a special dry food for her kidney disease for the last few years, which I would supplement with Fancy Feast once a day because it is her absolute favourite. Also, too much of the dry food would make her constipated (about two years ago we had a big scare when she became severely constipated) but too much Fancy Feast would give her the opposite problem, in an explosive sort of way. So, for the past two years I have been strategically feeding her the perfect ratio of dry food to Fancy Feast to keep her poop the right texture. She was a bit of a diva like that.

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You will perfect my poop.

She didn’t like the dry food as much as Fancy Feast, obviously, so sometimes she would go on a bit of a hunger strike for a few days and refuse to eat anything but Fancy Feast. When she stopped eating her dry food a couple weeks ago, I first assumed that’s what was going on. I thought she was just being her usual picky self, holding out for the good stuff because she knows we’re weak and we’ll cave if she sits by her dish and looks sad.

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Earlier last week, however, she stopped being enthused for even Fancy Feast. She would (angrily) meow for it like usual, but when I gave it to her she would leave most of it in her dish. And then she would come back to her dish later and meow for more. So it was like she wanted to eat but couldn’t. She was still eating her usual treats that I gave her every morning, but by Friday she was quite lethargic and had lost a noticeable amount of weight. She’s always been small, and she had definitely been shrinking the past couple of years since she was diagnosed with kidney disease, but never this much in such a short time. She was still acting normal though, and she wasn’t hiding (huge tip off last time she was sick), so we left her a little charcuterie of all her favourite foods to try to entice her into eating something.

On Sunday in the late morning, she was — in the words of Lord Grantham — not looking too clever. She was even more lethargic and she was wobbly on her hind legs. I had my friend Emily’s baby shower to attend in the early afternoon so I called Willowdale Animal Hospital (the only vet open on Sundays around here, but also the one we went to the last time Winnie was sick) and made an appointment for that afternoon when I returned. I truly thought she was just constipated and she needed a little manual help from the vet like last time. I gave Winnie lots of kisses, told her I loved her, and left her in Evan’s capable hands until I got back.

About 40 minutes into the baby shower I got a call from Evan that Winnie’s situation had escalated and he was taking her to the animal hospital immediately. From his panicked voice I could tell it was bad, and I left the shower right away to meet them there. By the time I arrived they were in the examining room and Evan had briefed the vet on what had been going on with Winnie over the past couple of weeks. I will never forget how uncomfortable and weak she looked on that examining table.

The vet sat me down and went over our options and I could feel the tears in my eyes. I knew it wasn’t looking good. He explained that we could get her on an IV, try to fix her up, and maybe buy some more time with her, but there was no guarantee she would recover or even make it through another couple of days. I was shocked to find out that Winnie only weighed 4.5lbs at that point. She was dehydrated (and she had been drinking a lot of water so that surprised me), malnourished, probably anemic. I looked at her weakly hovering so uncomfortably on that table and I realized that whatever I did to keep her alive at that point would be for me, not for her. The vet estimated that her kidney disease had progressed to the final stages since she was diagnosed three years ago, and that could have been what her problems were stemming from. Or maybe she had cancer or some other disease happening as well. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a simple constipation issue, like I had so desperately been hoping.

Evan and I already knew what we had to do, but the doctor left us alone to make the decision. I picked Winnie up and Evan and I held her frail little body between us and sobbed into her fur and told her how much we loved her and how she was the best little kitty in all the land. We called the vet back in after about 10 minutes and let him know that we had decided to have her put down. He agreed it was the right thing to do, which gave me some comfort because I’ve never had to make a decision like that before and I felt pretty crappy about it. He reminded me that at 22 she had led a very long and happy life.

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He asked if we wanted to be present for her injection, and we said yes, we did. They took Winnie away to give her an IV of pain medication to calm her, and then we met her in a private room so we could say goodbye.

The vet left us alone for this and I thought that I would be able to be strong for Winnie but I lost my mind. I held her little body to my chest and again told her how much I loved her and how she had been the most amazing kitty and my best little buddy for so long. She always smelled like bread and cinnamon and like the last person who had been holding her, and I buried my face into her fur to smell her scent one last time, but at that point I was crying so hard that I couldn’t smell anything.

When I put her back on the table she really seemed like she understood what was happening and she was at peace with it. I’ve never seen her so still and peaceful (I think the drugs had something to do with this). When the vet came back in to do the injection, Winnie kept her eyes on me the entire time, refusing to close them. I cry every time I think of this, of her not wanting to close her eyes, watching us until the very end, our teary faces the last thing she saw.

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The doctor gave her the injection and Evan and I stroked her head and gave her kisses until she was gone. It only took about 10 seconds.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do the job of the vet. Dr. Petrut and his staff were so professional, but so gentle and compassionate with Winnie. And with us. Evan and I were hysterical sobbing (well, I was more hysterical, Evan was calmer sobbing), and I wouldn’t have known how to deal with us. But they were so incredibly kind. I was really impressed with the Willowdale Animal Hospital overall, even though it was awkward paying our bill afterwards when I was still crying. Winnie will be cremated, and in two weeks I will receive a mould of her little paw print. I think that’s going to kill me when I receive it, but I can’t wait to have it. I love her little feet.

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Part of me wonders if things would have been different if I had brought Winnie into the vet at the first sign of her being weird. I feel a little guilt that I didn’t. But realistically I know there probably wasn’t anything we could have done to prolong her life. I think her time was Sunday and I am thankful that I was with her and she knew that she was loved by her family until the the end.

I honestly can’t believe how heartbroken I am. I have been anticipating this for a good 10 years. I knew it had to happen at some point, but I couldn’t have prepared myself. I think some part of me really thought she might be a miracle cat and would live forever. I actually wrote about this in my If You Could Google Anything post.

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I can’t remember my life before Winnie and I can’t imagine my life without her. She enriched my life so much. She has been with me through everything, for 22 years! She is the same age as my adult brother!

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Since I was 10 years old, if I was ever upset about anything my routine was to get Winnie, get into bed, snuggle her close, cry into her fur as needed.

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When I was bullied in elementary school, when I had my heart broken, when my parents split up, when my mom and brother moved to BC… Winnie was there to comfort me. She was always my cat, and she was truly my living teddy bear. When I went through a tough breakup in 2012, Winnie was there and put up with me toting her around to friends houses, our belongings in garbage bags, until we moved on our own to the city. When I lost my job shortly after that, I snuggled Winnie and promised her that I would always take care of her, I would make sure I could always afford Fancy Feast, and I would never let us become homeless.

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I am so happy that she met Evan and she had a lovely life with him here in the condo, and how they bonded in the three years they knew each other. It chokes me up when I think of how much they loved each other.

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Winnie enjoyed naps on warm blankets in the sunshine,

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twisting herself up into a little pretzel,

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playing with her tetherball,

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being cuddled, luring us to the ottoman to get brushed (always the ottoman).

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You guys won't brush me? Fine, I'll do it myself. #catsofinstagram #catvideo

A post shared by Lindsey Evanoff (@happyorhungry) on

(even if it meant having to brush herself)

And she loved eating Fancy Feast, Temptations, cheese, chips, yogurt and plants (and then throwing that plant up). She especially enjoyed me spooning her in my bed.

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I will miss her greeting me when I get home from work, yowling for Fancy Feast, and then trying to trick someone else into giving her some later, because maybe that sucker wouldn’t know she already had it. I will miss her smelling like bread and cinnamon and like the person who had last been holding her. I will miss her purring as I bury my face into her fur. I will miss her little nails clicking on the hardwood floor. I will miss all of our blankets being covered in her hair. I will miss holding her close at night and snoring in her face. I will miss singing to her, talking to her, and her meowing back at me like she understood. I will miss her meowing questionably every time someone says her name. I will even miss her dragging her butt around the house and leaving “butt drags” as Evan and I called them, aka shit stains.

I feel like I have lost a part of my identity, as ridiculous as that sounds. I am no longer the mom of a 22-year-old cat. I had high hopes of her making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest cat in the world. I was so proud of her that I would rave on about her to anyone who would listen. If I ever had to make small talk she was my go-to conversation to impress someone. Now that she’s gone I’m not sure what I’m going to talk about anymore. And what photos on my phone am I going to proudly show off?

Miss Winnie, you are irreplaceable. You are the pet of my life. You are the most wonderful soul I’ve ever known and you were the best sidekick for 22 years. You brought me so much joy, you made me laugh every day, and I hope you knew that everyone who met you loved you. I will think of your sweet face every day for the rest of my life. I love you so much and my heart will permanently have a kitty-nugget-shaped hole in it. When we meet again I am going to snuggle you forever.

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Yes, we shall. But until then I hope you are up in heaven with your brother Tigger and Cely’s dog Bardot (even though she’s a dog, you can tolerate her), and as Cely said, I hope you are happily napping in a very warm spot while waking up occasionally to demand food and love. That thought brings me great joy.

It also brings me joy that I have captured so many memories of her on this blog, particularly her 21st birthday post, and in My Nana vs. My Cat: A Comparison.

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57 responses to “My Sweet Winnie

  1. I am so sorry for your loss! Winnie sounded like an amazing cat and she was so lucky to have you and Evan. I will miss hearing about her on the blog, but I am sure she’s in heaven enjoying 100% fancy feast and being brushed whenever she wants.

  2. It really warms my heart to see a pet that was so wonderfully loved and taken care of. She looks like she had the most wonderful life!!

  3. There should be a disclaimer to not read this at work because now I am crying. I’m glad I got to meet that sweet nugget of yours! She sure did not like me taking over your bedroom and let me know it because she’s saucy like that. Enjoy those sun spots and fancy feast in kitty heaven, Winnie!

  4. What a beautiful tribute to Winnie. You and her are so lucky to have shared 22 years together.

    Losing a pet is one of the most difficult things to walk through. Take care of yourself and know that Winnie is happy and safe and watching over you always.

    • We are lucky, I know. That thought is comforting. It really is, I didn’t know it was going to be this difficult. Thank you, although you really made me cry with that comment about Winnie watching over me 😉

  5. What a beautiful tribute to sweet Winnie. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the sadness you’re feeling. Winnie was a great kitty and so lucky to be so loved her whole life. Sending you and Evan a big hug.

  6. So sorry for your loss, Lindsey. I’ve been in your shoes and it is not a fun place to be. It’s amazing how these animals become part of you and that you can love them so much. We have both of our cats ashes in nice cedar boxes/urns and have their paw prints as well – it cost a ridiculous amount of money but I wanted to have them. They are a lovely reminder of the time we shared together. Treasure your memories of Winnie. She seemed like a wonderful friend.

  7. I am so sorry 🙁 This was such a lovely tribute to a beautiful lady. I was sobbing until I saw that picture of her with the string in her mouth. Fantastic! She was wonderfully loved, and you did everything you could for her! Winnie forever! (do you want to go get pet tattoos together?)

  8. I’m so, so sorry, Lindsey. I’m crying silently at my desk, what a lovely tribute to sweet Winnie. She’s up there with all the other animals, eating buckets of Fancy Feast with a giant couch to lay on, waiting patiently for when she gets to see you again <3

    • Thanks Noelle. Your comment about her waiting patiently for when she gets to see me again absolutely destroyed me. But I do really appreciate it. I’m sure that will be comforting one day when it doesn’t hurt so much.

  9. Oh gosh, this is just heartbreaking. I second the “don’t read this at work” disclaimer, because I too am quietly sniffling at my desk! I’ve lost several pets throughout my life, and I hate to say – it never gets any easier. They all manage to steal a piece of your heart… furry little stinkers. Sending virtual ‘one pet lover to another’ hugs! Hang in there…

  10. Internet hugs! I can’t fathom the wound you’re carrying from missing your sweet baby of 22 (!!!!) years. You gave her such a wonderful life, and nothing can take those memories away.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to Winnie brought tears to my eyes. She had a wonderful life and I know you’ll cherish the memories you shared with her.

  12. Literally cried in the dark at the bus stop on your behalf this morning!!! Sending you love!

  13. Nancy McCartney

    Oh Lindsey- my heart breaks for you and Evan. Please know that you have made the right decision and it is the humane thing to do as painful as it is to let go. May there be some comfort in knowing Winnie is at peace in heaven and no longer suffering. What a long life she lived for 22 years! Cherish the many memories. xo

  14. What a beautiful post. My heart is breaking so hard for you, and I’m so sorry for your loss. You were both lucky to care for each other for so long. Good night sweet kitty.

  15. I’m sobbing for you – I am so very very very sorry for your loss. What an amazing companion she was! I’ve loved getting to know her through your blog.

  16. This post choked me up. You gave Winnie the best cat life possible. So sorry for your loss.

  17. Well now I’m crying too! This was a beautiful tribute to her!!

  18. Lindsey, I am so, so sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful, touching tribute and I am sobbing for you. You made her life the best that it possibly could be and you clearly worshipped her like all cats deserve (but VERY FEW ever get!). Thank you for sharing her life with us – she will live on in so many people’s memories.

    • Thank you so much. You are right, all cats deserve to be worshipped. I went on Petfinder just to take a look at adoptable cats in our area, and there were 35,000. It makes me so sad, I wish I could worship them all.
      Thanks for your sweet comment.

  19. Oh, this breaks my heart to read! I’m so so sorry for your loss (and Evan’s too!) I sobbed through this whole post! I can’t imagine losing my cats, but I hope they make it to 22 as well! First Bardot, and now Winnie…..I’m getting scared to read my blogs. They’re too sad. My husband keeps asking why I’m crying. Hugs to you and Evan. I’m sending comforting thoughts your way. Xo

  20. I am sorry for your loss. I love your Winnie stories – I hope you keep telling them on days when you need to remember how much she was loved – much love to you and Evan during this time.

  21. I’m so sorry for your loss, Winnie was such an amazing cat and companion to you. I am heart broken for you and have the exact same fear of losing my dog eventually. She was so loved and lived such a long happy life though, so try and take comfort in that. She is at peace and watching over you now.

  22. Oh my gosh. I sat here crying reading this tribute and I thought…what is wrong with me? Why do I read these things? You can’t even tell anybody…”hey, do you want to read this person’s really sweet tribute to their cat that they lost? You’ll totally sob at work”. people will think you’ve lost your mind. Both my cat and puppy are getting old and my husband and I get sad every time we see them struggle to climb the stairs or sleep during the day instead of party all night.

    Your sweet Winnie, she sounded amazing. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing about her so many times. I’ve loved reading your posts about her. Crazy pet people unite I guess.

    • Your comment made me laugh. It’s true, you can’t be sending this post around to your friends.
      Hold your kitty and your puppy tight. I hope they have many happy years left with you.
      Thank you so much for your comment and I have to say that I was excited to see that you read my blog. 🙂

  23. I’m so sorry about Winnie. I loved reading about her antics.

  24. Beautiful post! I also got teary eyed while reading this. You clearly gave her a wonderful 22 years!

  25. I’m So incredibly sorry for your loss. I had to put my cat to sleep last month who had cancer and it was possibly the most terrible thing ever. He was only 11 and one of the great loves of my life. It still hurts so much and I empathize with you.

    • Aww one of the greatest loves of your life <3 That is a good way to describe the Wins too. I just commented on your other post, so now I realize your kitty was 11. Which is still a good age for a cat, but that is awful. I can't imagine. So sorry for your loss.

  26. I am so heartbroken reading this post. I am so so so sorry for your loss and so happy you got to share the love of Winnie for such a wonderful long cat life.
    I had to put my own babe down two weeks ago, in my house and in my arms like you.
    Lots of love to you.

    • Aww, I am so sorry for you, too. I know it’s so rough. Lots of love right back.
      I was thinking today that I’ve never been home alone without Winnie here. It is going to be very very weird the first time that happens.

  27. So sorry and sad to hear about Winnie 🙁 She sounded like the most amazing cat, and I think it’s fairly rare for a cat to love or even tolerate so many cuddles! An irreplaceable gem!
    This reminded me so much of when me and my mom had to put our cat, Patches, down. She was almost as old as Winnie, about 21; I was only 14 and had grown up with this cat. She’d been kind of sick for a while, but on the morning we woke up to go to the cottage (we were going to board her at Kool Kat Inn in Mississauga), we just knew that was it. We took her to the emergency clinic and she didn’t even complain during the car ride, something she always did. Exactly like you said about Winnie, our Patches seemed to understand what was going on and was at peace with it. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much though.
    But our kitties both had long lives full of love!

    • She really was. I had another cat named Dexter for a few years (he went with my ex bf’s family when we broke up), and he was nice and liked to be pet, but not at all like Winnie. When you picked him up he would stretch his legs out all awkward and it was clear he just wanted to be put down. When you picked up Winnie she would just mould to your body. I think you’re right and most cats don’t want to snuggle like she did, however one day we will get another cat and it will be my mission to make it love to snuggle.
      Aww, Patches lived such a long life too!

  28. texasmelrose2

    I am so heartbroken for you. I can honestly say I know how you feel. I had the sweetest cat named Frisky from the time I was 12 until I was 30. She was a stray who found me and we were inseparable. (She died when I was pregnant with my first – I gave her a last pet on her head and went to the store and when I returned she was gone…no warning) She was a lot like Winnie in that her favorite thing was to snuggle…and only with me. Her favorite time of the day was bedtime aka snuggletime and she would nag me all night to go to bed. (That was her favorite place to snuggle). All of my important childhood memories involved her and she was there for me always…during the awkward years of Jr. High and High School, heartbreaks and learning to navigate adulthood. She was my one constant. Just like Winnie.

    I loved reading your stories of Winnie and seeing all the pictures you posted. Your sweet bond was so evident and I was hoping right along with you that she was a miracle cat and would live forever. She will definitely always live on in your blog posts and in the hearts of your readers as well.

    I have no doubt our sweet kitties will be waiting for us on the other side and we will get to snuggle with them for eternity.

    I am so glad that you and Evan were there in her last moments and got to be the last thing she saw. I am glad you saw that she was at peace and she surely knew how much she was loved.

    Thinking of you…the pain will subside but your memories will be there forever. Lots of love and hugs to you!

  29. I’m so so sorry 🙁

  30. Oh Lindsey… I have been playing catch up on reading your blog today as I am (obviously) quite behind. Although I knew of your loss, reading about it just shredded my heart. The tears are still rolling down my face as I’m typing this. Losing a member of your family is never easy, but she will always live on in your heart, your memories, and forever in the pictures you’ve taken and the blog posts you’ve written about her. It’s amazing to be able to say that it’s 22 years worth!

    Always remember as well that she was just as lucky to have you for a momma as you were to have her as your kitty! Who knows, with the possibility of kitty reincarnation maybe she’ll come back to you one day, instead of one of those jerky, non-snuggly cats. 🙂