Lily

Lily at 10 weeks old. Her mother Carrie before she showed serious signs of FeLV+ symptoms.

Lily at 10 weeks old. Her mother Carrie before she showed serious signs of FeLV+ symptoms.

Lily in an amorous mood with her Daddy.

Lily in an amorous mood with her Daddy.

I created this website to draw attention to the horrible ravages of this disease to cats. So far, I have been the one to add the most content to these pages. However, my husband wrote not only a wonderful piece about our Lovey that I posted after her death, he also wrote this beautiful tribute to our Lily that I am including here. It is eloquent and poignant and it captures the spirit of our little darling furry angel:

When Carrie gave birth to her four kittens, Marcia and I had the same thoughts. Yes, the kittens were all beautiful and would probably make great pets for some people one day; but we did not want to get too close to them. After all, it was entirely possible that they would steal our hearts and then leave us to bring joy and happiness to someone else.

So I said a prayer that they would all enjoy long, happy lives and give a healthy amount of love to some deserving persons. The plan was to either give them away to people we knew or entrust them to a good animal facility such as Defenders of Animal Rights. As it happened, there were some people we knew who wanted kittens; each would take two.

In short order, this all fell apart. The people involved who had wanted kittens backed off, and this left us with the original idea of perhaps taking to the no-kill shelter. Naturally, our resolution to avoid developing close ties with the kittens didn’t last long at all; they worked their magic on us and grabbed our hearts, quickly reeling us in.

And of course then came the final blow to the plans when we found out that they were FeLV+ positive. That meant they were going to stay with us most likely for the rest of their lives.

Some people would have been scared off by FeLV+, but not us. We just made a pact that we would love these kitties and spoil them as much as we could. Perhaps their lives would not be long; but as Marcia put it so aptly, their lives would be about quality if not quantity. I agreed, naturally; we gave them as much quality as we could. But having said that, I wish the quantity could have been much more.

Lily on the prowl

Lily on the prowl

Lily was the kitten who most resembled her mother. The only difference was that her color was a bit lighter; otherwise they were identical. What a beautiful, loving girl she became! Most notable were her large eyes; they seemed to swallow us up when we stared into them. Lily had spirit, loved with passion, and always retained her kittenish playfulness.

She was spirited; no doubt she got that from her mother. A friend came over and picked up the tiny, tiger-striped kitten. Although small, this small kitten hissed at our friend, causing her to laugh and exclaim, “You are not big enough to know what that means!”

Lily developed a growl that actually sounded like a buzz. It has to be the cutest growl I’ve ever heard. When we were feeding the cats, Lily would stand right below whoever was dishing up the food. If a kernel fell to the floor, she would pounce upon it immediately, growling a warning that the kernel was hers and that everyone else should stay away! Zzzzz!

When the kittens were small, we kept Carrie and them in our guest bedroom. Lily was the first of the kittens to attempt to sneak out, quietly slinking by Marcia when she was carrying food dishes out. One day I went into our guest bathroom, and suddenly I noticed a little grey puff-ball walking in. “What are you doing here?” I asked her. I put her back into the room, so she could tell her sisters all about her adventure.

IMG_1584Of course kittens like to play, and Lily fit right into that, happily running about with her sisters. One toy Marcia got them when they were still very young and in the bedroom was a tunnel. All the kittens were thrilled with it, but especially Lily, who continued to use it almost until her final days.

Sometimes the silliest items would become toys. Lily especially loved straws — why, we’ll never know. But if there was a drink with a straw in it, one had better be keeping watch, for Lily would sneak over and get the straw out of there and go running off with it.

But then, she loved to play with abandon. Toys that would dangle from a string attached to a stick were her favorite. She would run and jump to great heights to catch the treasure that moved about in front of her.

Of course she enjoyed playing with her sisters. They would all climb to the heights that the living and dining rooms had to offer, and then make death-defying leaps from one piece of furniture to the next. After Daisy and Missy had passed away, she grew even closer to Lovey, and the two became inseparable. They thoroughly loved playing with each other. I recall seeing them climbing way up high in our computer room, up onto the desk, and in turn onto the hutch, bookcase and finally the curtain rod. Crossing the curtain rod and nearing the far end, Lily would go no further, even with Lovey right behind offering encouragement. Lovey had long legs and could easily handle the long jump from the curtain rod onto the day bed, but Lily was not about to attempt that. So they both slowly backed up to the bookcase and took the easier way down.

With Lovey’s passing, Lily lost her beloved playmate. We wanted her to know that we were going to try a new medicine on her that hopefully would extend her life, and so we once again asked a psychic we trust to come by. Lily conveyed that she was ready to take on the new medicine, but all she really wanted was to have someone with whom to play.

Of course we would gladly play with her, especially if it meant spoiling her rotten! Why wouldn’t we?

One characteristic common among all the kittens was the fascination with computer screens. The images were a constant source of delight, but in Lily’s case it went a bit farther. She would focus on the cursor, and stop at nothing to catch it as it moved from place to place on the screen. Although it was hard to get anything done with her in the way, it would have been impossible for me to get cross — she was just a lovely kitten having so much fun!

She also loved watching videos, mostly ones featuring cats and kittens; but occasionally something with objects moving about. Once I played a video my sister had sent that had kites whirling around. Lily enjoyed it so much that when it was over, she kept looking at me, then the screen, then me again. She was asking to have it played again! What an intelligent kitty. This behavior mimicked something a cat of ours named Chatterbox had done years before. Watching a video about squirrels and birds, Chatters gazed back and forth between Marcia and the television, letting Marcia know that she wanted to see it again. Now Lily was doing likewise!

Lily would look at the television as well. Once I saw a commercial for a product called Cat’s Meow that featured a “mouse” running about in a circular path underneath a cover. Lo and behold, she was staring intently at the television screen, seeing those cats playing happily with their toy. Of course the only thing we could do was get her one of her very own. She absolutely loved it!

She seemed to understand that her playing induced laughter from us, and she reveled in the happiness. She was also very appreciative of the items she received. Once I came home with some cat food and treats, but in addition I had thrown in a new dangling toy. She was instantly excited, so much so that she could hardly contain herself in wanting me to unwrap it. “Is that for me? Daddy, can we play with it right now?” How could I refuse?

No matter what the mischief or the amount of it, there was absolutely no way I could ever get cross with her. Not so long ago she had an inspiration; she wanted to play on a cat treadmill. A cat’s version of a treadmill is a mounted roll of toilet paper, and I think you get the idea of what happened. All we could do is laugh at her antics.

Lily loved to go back and forth between me and my husband for pets and kisses.  Here she is gracing me a rare steady pose on the foot rest of the recliner.

Lily loved to go back and forth between me and my husband for pets and kisses. Here she is gracing me a rare steady pose on the foot rest of the recliner.

She would give me hints when she wanted to play, walking up to a toy and doing her routine of looking first at the toy, then at me, and so on. If I was not swift enough at picking up on her message, she would come over and dig her claws into my leg, making sure she had my attention! She did this on more than one occasion, but she never meant to be mean. It was just her way of showing how excited she was. As we always thought, when she was playing, she was happy!

We wondered what this Christmas would be like with a tree. Last year, although we put up some decorations, we didn’t put up a tree due to Marcia’s December surgery. However, this time around we were bound and determined to put up the tree and see just how this kitty would react. Well, she never actually climbed it, finding out that the lower branches would not support her weight. She of course batted at a few ornaments, but especially attracting her attention was a train underneath the tree. Years ago I had seen my parents’ dog, Popcorn, knock a train off the tracks when she was staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house; and this year Lily followed suit. As usual, we just howled in merriment when she attempted to destroy the train.

Lily loved to jump up on her Daddy's chest to be petted and adored

Lily loved to jump up on her Daddy’s chest to be petted and adored

What a loving cat she was! How many mornings when I was at the computer would she jump up between me and computer monitor? Of course the idea was to make sure she was in the way and effectively blocking my view of the screen. My usual response was to pet and hug her; she would respond by hugging me in return, eagerly rubbing her face against my nose or cheek. Of course she would accompany this with a boisterous, loud purr. Her purring has been one of my most favorite sounds; how I wish I could enjoy even just one more morning with my beautiful baby girl right in front of me!

Her love was not limited to Marcia and me. She was very fond of her sisters and mother, loving them with abandon. She took a shine to her “Uncle” Bebe, our chocolate Siamese, and would sit next to him on the back of the sofa. I always imagined her asking him to tell her a story.

When Daisy became ill, she and the other kittens all made it a point to wash her and take care of her. It reminded me of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women when Beth took ill, and all her sisters comforted her. These kitties all showed compassion to which we should all aspire. As for Lily’s part in all this, Marcia has often said that she had just one organ in her body, a very large heart.

I have written previously about her love for her sister, Lovey; and she was demonstrative in her affection for us as well. When she would lie on my chest, she would look across at Marcia with her beautiful eyes expressing adoration, a most happy and contented kitty.

She and our Tortie, Cleopatra, got along all right; but it is Cleo’s way to display fondness toward everyone. As for Antigone, our Maine Coon, there was some hostility; but recently I saw the two of them sniffing noses in the kitchen. That gave me a warm feeling.

There is an old saying: When the cat’s away, the mice will play. I guess when the humans are away, the cats will play. We were in the habit of keeping the dry cat food on top of the refrigerator in plastic containers. Returning in October from a trip to North Carolina, we saw the food container in the half bathroom on the first floor and noticed that the top was broken. A note from our pet sitter explained that someone had gone up there and knocked over the container, breaking the top and spilling food all over! Now who do you think was responsible for that? Just in case there is any doubt, one day soon after this incident, I left a new container of dry food on the counter. From the living room I heard a crash, and went into the kitchen to find Lily on the counter with Cleo and Antigone below on the floor, eagerly gobbling the kernels of food. I think the other cats really were enjoying their impromptu repast. Perhaps this had something to do with Antigone’s attitude softening toward Lily.

For a time the new medicine (T-Cyte) seemed to be working effectively. Lily was happy and playing with abandon, her appetite was good, and we were enamored with her antics. However, late in November, I took her in to get her T-Cyte injection and also have some blood drawn to see if anything was amiss. Her red cell count was down slightly, but nothing else seemed wrong.

On December 27th, however, the roof fell in. Her red cell count was very low, approaching critical. Our vet suggested interferon, an antiviral medication, plus two antibiotics. All this hit me like a ton of bricks. When our FeLV+ cats have gotten anemic, it has meant that the disease had attacked the bone marrow; and there was no longer any way for them to produce their own red blood cells. A transfusion could help them feel better, but only temporarily. We had previously tried that with Lily’s sister, Missy. We decided not to attempt it with Lily.

I would gladly have had the transfusion done if someone could have assured me that it would be successful and that Lily could live a long time with it, even perhaps as little as six months. But we knew that would not happen.

For her part, Lily was wonderful about taking her medicine, whether it was in liquid or pill form. We appreciated her cooperation in these desperate attempts to make her feel better. No matter what, her attitude remained positive. Even when she was in distress on her last day, she let Marcia and I hold her and tried to purr.

Her energy level and her appetite were going down to zero, and it broke our hearts to see this lovely little girl failing, especially when not so long ago she was so full of vim and vigor. Late in the afternoon of January 16th, she began crying out in pain. Exactly what was going on internally we may never know, but it was causing her to be in distress; and I called our vet to see if she could come over and administer the terrible drugs that would end Lily’s life but also her suffering. I was told by the receptionist that Dr. Hoffman, our truly wonderful and compassionate vet, would come over around 7 p.m., after her final appointment.

Around 6:50, Lily, who was being held by Marcia, let out a scream of pain and then did it once more. We tried to place her onto a blanket on the sofa, but just as we did that, she suddenly stretched and quit breathing. Our beautiful, sweet little girl had just left us.

I was about to call our vet and tell her not to come, but just then the phone rang. It was the receptionist, informing me that Dr. Hoffman and a tech were en route. When they got here, I let them in, informing them that Lily had just passed away. Marcia was in the living room, crying her eyes out and holding our sweet little girl. They made a paw print and shaved some fur for us to keep. We talked for a bit, wondering exactly what caused Lily’s pain; the vet told us there are several possibilities, as the anemia would just make her weak and tired. They then made ready to leave and wrapped Lily in a towel they had brought with them. (Incidentally one of the towels we had recently donated.) But before they left, we each kissed our little girl just one more time.

Lily will be cremated privately, as has become our custom.

Outside later in the evening, I saw the full moon and the constellation Orion nearby. At the zenith I observed a bright star or planet. When I told Marcia I didn’t know which one that was. she replied, “It’s Lily.”

Lily has now been reunited with her beloved mother and sisters, and I’m certain they have given her a most joyful welcome. Lily is now healthy once again, free of disease, and able to romp and play with her sisters as they did for a time on this earth.

If Carrie had never entered our house, we never would have had to endure the pain of watching her and her four kittens leave us, especially in so short a time. However, the unconditional love and affection each of them gave us was so overwhelming that it far outweighed any other consideration. These cats were gifts from God, and we cared for them as best we could. Carrie honored us by choosing to enter our house and presented us with a miraculous offering, four beautiful and magnificent kittens. Could she have produced any greater manifestation of God’s grace and love for us? If so, I cannot imagine it.

Even through the pain of losing our little ones, and believe me, it is brutal to have our beloved little girl looking at us while crying out in pain and not being able to help her, we would not trade anything for the love and laughter and good times they bestowed upon us. May God bless Carrie and her kittens; and we look forward to the time when we cross the Rainbow Bridge to be healthy and forever joyous, never again to be separated!

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Slumber, My Darling by Stephen Foster

Slumber, my darling, thy mother is near,
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear,
Sunlight has passed and the twilight has gone,
Slumber, my darling, the night’s coming on.

Sweet visions attend thy sleep,
Fondest, dearest to me,
While others their revels keep,
I will watch over thee.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flowers are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I’ll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Slumber, my darling, till morn’s blushing ray
Brings to the world the glad tidings of day;
Fill the dark void with thy dreamy delight —
Slumber, thy mother will guard thee tonight,

Thy pillow shall sacred be
From all outward alarms;
Thou, thou are the world to me
In thine innocent charms.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flowers are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I’ll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Good night sweet Lily. May God watch over you until we meet again.

Good night sweet Lily.
May God watch over you until we meet again.

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