Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Meet Louise, a care-giving cat

     During a phone conversation with my nephew Christmas Day, I learned that Lou had passed away. A wave of sadness came over me.  
     I had the pleasure of meeting lovely Louise myself numerous times when I visited my sister and brother-in-law in California.
    The truth of the matter is that Louise won the feline lottery. Mega Jackpot. She lived in the lap of cat luxury. Louise resided on the West Coast surrounded by adoring family and fans alike.
     Waving her paws from stretch limos holding lucrative Hollywood contracts weren’t to be part of her life; nevertheless, she did feel special regardless. She resided in a sprawling ranch home out of the Hollywood limelight.
     You could say that Lou got lucky.
     This story is not about her good fortune, though. Rather, it’s about how she stepped up to the plate at two crucial times regardless of her overly indulgent owners and fancy feasts.
     The tale started about 10 years ago when Lou was rescued from an animal shelter — a shout out to volunteers and staff at shelters that work tirelessly for the sake of our four-legged friends.
     “Life will be good. You will be loved,” said the couple seasoned in cat ownership. They had had several other cats throughout their married life and pretty much knew the drill of acclimating a pet into an unfamiliar environment.

     Actually, it was the West Coast kitty that selected her owners. There were way too many other choices at the shelter, and Lou didn’t want to take a chance at not being noticed. Lou brought forth her best personality traits — she was pure sweetness in a cuddly bundle. Although the shelter thought she was about three, maybe four years old, her small stature was deceiving.
     “They took her to the vet and the veterinarian said, ‘Nope, she's at least 9.’ We had her maybe seven or eight years total?” my nephew informed me.
     The papers signed, and Louise was adopted officially. She was a petite white cat with huge eyes – there were random patches of assorted colors all over her body - that stared back at her new owners from the safety of her crate wondering where in the world she was going.
     It immediately became apparent that her name would remain “Louise,” although it got abbreviated to “Lou” shortly. Eventually, her name would be morphed to Lou Bear and Boo Boo, too.
     As far as her relationship with her owners, trust developed quickly and built over the years.
     She was fond of stretching out on the husband’s legs when he took a nap, or in the bed at night between the two in the lump in the spread as close to their heads as possible. When the wife read a book in her chair, Lou was right there overseeing her progress on the printed page.

     Louise was a talkative kitty and she kept it up to let you know of her regal presence, too. Once I was taking a quick nap, and in strolled Lou meowing as if to tell me, “time’s up.”
     Pet therapy is a proven fact. It is a wonder how a cat’s sense that someone needs his comfort comes at the very moment. Now dog lovers will remark the same thing, and there are many instances of tender compassion during sniffles, flu and worse.
     It wasn’t long after Louise arrived and joined the family in a spacious house with a view of the San Bernardino Mountains, that she sensed circumstances were not right. Too many pill bottles on the kitchen counter. Too many lengthy visits to LA to the City of Hope, a National Cancer Research Institute.  
       There were significant health issues for both husband and wife unfortunately, and the timing couldn’t be helped. It certainly wasn’t in the plans of a couple just turning the other side of 60.
     First Louise slept day and night by the wife over the following year or so as her health slowly diminished with complications from the side effects of chemo treatments for nearly 13 years. Louise only briefly left her side. She clung to the wife crying softly as the ambulance took her owner away for her final hospital stay.
     There was a slight reprieve for a year, and things got back to being ordinary again in a cat’s life. All along Louise had been well fed and cared for, although her teeth had given her trouble, which isn’t all together uncommon.

     Then her instincts told her to be alert once more. The husband was not well, and he too, was suffering from cancer. His life centered upon home hospice in his final weeks. Again, Louise was staying on the bed around the clock and offering the love that the owner wanted so desperately.
     After the husband died, fortunately Louise had a ready-made home with their son and his wife. They had a collection of cats, and Louise wasn’t the least bit fazed by her more aggressive male cousins. She blended in rather well and her infectious crying got her all the attention that she required.
      “In her last few years, she'd stand by her food bowl and call for her favorite meal: TROOOOOOOOOOOOUT. We started doing that with her, sort of the informal Lou greeting. She was always the first to greet us at the door, too,” my nephew told me.
     Louise lived up to her reputation as a comforter. R.I P.