It was a fine evening, when I discovered three newly born kittens with their dead mama cat (well, not so fine evening for that poor mama cat) next to them. Orphans. Eyes unopened yet. That day marked the beginning of a wonderful relationship and a heart-warming experience of almost 18 beautiful years.
The kitties were so small. I had to use straw to feed them milk. One of them, seemed to enjoy the milk so much and just drank and drank. It grew bigger and stronger as the days went by. Unfortunately,the two other sisters were not as strong and died. This little survivor grew stronger and stronger as weeks and months went by and turned into a beautiful (at least to me, she was) cat … Lai-Lai, my first pet.. I fed her and played with her daily… but she stayed behind my house. Everyday, I opened my back door, called out to her to come (lai) and that’s how she learned to respond to Lai-lai and the name stuck.
Well, it was a great learning experience to have a pet. I have learned, unfortunately, a bit too late, that cats can get pregnant when they are six month old. Lai-lai got itself pregnant. Then my family decided to ban her from entering my house. She was dumped in the back lane permanently. My back door was permanently shut. How sad I was. But Lai-lai taught me, literally, when one door closes, another door opens. She worked her way back into my life, fortunately.. by using the front door. So smart!
Through her cute ways and perseverance, my family decided to keep her. She gave birth to three kittens..one died, still-born. Unfortunately, one day, when I returned from school, her two babies disappeared, my family told me that they were given away, but until today, I believe they were thrown away. The truth will always elude me. But I’ve learned, what you don’t know, won’t hurt you. I am glad that Lai-lai was then neutered..and no more throwing away of kitties… after all these many years, until now…I have always wonder what happen to her babies…
Lai-lai shown me, there is strength in number. Though she was the minority. She was chasing after a rat near the drain. Suddenly, two other rats appeared. Three rats were enough to scare Lai-lai. She ran and hid behind my grandma’s sarong. It was so funny. I can still recall them after more than 15 years.
Her cheekiness, playfulness and charming ways… led to those who dislike cats in my house to also love her. She was there accompanying me when I had to burn midnight oil for my exams, cheered me up when I was mourning for my beloved grandma, and listening to me, when I had to complain. And yes, I talked to my cats. Which pet owner does not talk to the pet?
She led a healthy, happy and contented life for 17 years. After the 17th year.. her health went downhill…She started to have dental problem, her two front teeth had to be shortened. She had to take antibiotic for tooth-ache. She then started to eat less and less and just sleep and sleep and became inactive. She had learned to use the bathroom for her pee and poop since a kitten. Then her hygienic habit changed, she peed everywhere in the kitchen. Later, she was diagnosed as having weak bladder. So, if anyone has a good pet but it change its habit, be patient with it. It does not want to simply pee anywhere too if possible.
When I saw Lai-lai’s health deteriorated a lot, I had to prepare for her passing away. I obtained more information on pet’s cremation(SPCA can cremate the pet, phone them before 3.30pm, the pet can be collected same day and cremated using the government’s incinerator. Cost RM30 for a cat) Soon Lai-lai was bedridden. She can’t walk. She peed on her bed often. I had to wash up a great number of times a day. She drank a lot and ate very little fish. To give her energy, I added some isotonic drink into her water. She also developed lung infection. Mucus kept coming out from her nose. I had to wipe and wipe countless time. The process of feeding her more medicine with the syringe was hard. She hated it. I hated it. But ,I had to, even if it’s hard. We have to at times do something difficult, out of love.
The last two weeks of her life, was as difficult for me, as for her. Having to clean her up constantly.. I was really surprised with myself, I never lose my patient with her. I will talk to soothe her while cleaning up, washing up, wiping up. I took great care to ensure she is always dry, clean and as comfortable as she can be. I woke up in the middle of the night, to clean for her. Cleaned her early in the morning. Cleaned her when I was home for lunch, cleaned her after work, cleaned her before sleep. I never once get frustrated. I really feel the meaning of love. Love means patience and understanding in those two weeks. Amazing.
Every living being, deserves to be treated with dignity..what more, a companion of almost 18 years. Some suggested that I should just put her to sleep. How could I kill her? Some one even said, my cat is not an expensive breed, so why I did that much. Said I should just abandon it. It’s not the matter of breed. It’s not a matter of money. She was priceless.. We can’t just keep the pet when it’s young and cute, and kill or throw it away, when it’s old and burdensome.
The night before she died, was particularly hard, for me. There were signs, her limbs became stiff, her eyes blur, and I knew, it was almost time for her to pass on. I know the medicine, the antibiotic, the isotonic drink, will be of no help. I had the syringe on my hand, I walked up and down, pacing forward and back, for half an hour, wondering whether I should just give up, let her rest peacefully, or just pumped the medicine that she hated so much, into her mouth.. hoping for a miracle. I walked up to her, the syringe on my hand, I lifted her up, knowing how well she hated her medicine, I wanted to pump, and I stop. I didn’t. I repeated these actions for half an hour. Should I feed or should I give up. Finally I decided, I can't give up, how could I. So I fed her the medicine. And I cleaned up for her.
Lai-lai had this habit of licking people’s hand and rubbing her head on my hand to show sign of affection and contentment. What was a gift of consolation from her to me was, that last night of her life, while I wiped her, she was already very weak, for two weeks, she was not her usual self, she didn’t rub or lick me, but that very last night of her life, she rubbed her head against my hand, with every ounce of her energy. She rubbed. I guess she was showing sign of gratitude..for which I can take to heart, that I have done my best for her.
Lai-lai was with me, even before she opened her eyes, until the day she closed her eyes. I discovered her passing away on the morning, 3rd Nov 2009. She was cremated the same day. May she rest in peace.
Written on 5th Nov 2009
P/S: To all my caring friends, I still missed Lai-lai but I am not as sad as I thought I will be. Thanks to all of you. I never thought people will show so much care, concern, thoughtfulness when someone’s pet passed away. But all of you showed me differently. The phone calls, the messages in facebook, emails, sms,e-cards, the offering of a listening ear, the sympathy messages and one of you even bought me a sympathy gift.… I am grateful for all those..There are so many of you, I can’t name you all here, but I remember each and everyone of you. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.