Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My sweet Dot

Goodbye, sweet Dot

My sweet cat Dot died on Saturday. It wasn't a surprise - if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that Dot was diagnosed with congestive heart failure almost 1 year ago. The real surprise and blessing, for us, was that she lived so long, longer than the best case scenario the vet had given us - a mere 10 months. I was halfway through chemotherapy when she was diagnosed, and terrified that she would die. She was my buddy, my constant companion, purring at my side, always, when I felt my worst, a silent, furry, wonderful friend who asked for nothing more than a bowl of food, water, and to be cozy and near me.

The internet is a funny thing - here on this blog, I wrote when Dot walked into my life, January 2014, 5 years ago. I talked about getting her fixed, and those special first moments when I got to know her and saw how unique and sweet her personality was, but I left the story there and never continued it. It's heart wrenching to read how I tried to shoo her away, because there were too many stray cats.

I didn't know then she would become my Dot, the little cat that saw me through every up and down I encountered in the past 5 years. Life and love are funny like that. It's so hard to appreciate the life that you're living. On a certain level, you may know that you are blessed, but it's hard to quantify these blessings until they are no longer with you.

So, I am actually glad that Dot was diagnosed with heart failure last year - not glad that she had heart failure, or had to die, but glad that we finally had a reason for her vomiting and hiding and shyness - maybe the whole time I had her, she had been ill and in pain. Having a diagnosis made life harder, but we at least knew her time with us wasn't permanent, and we were able to fully appreciate the time she had left with us, to really savor it and love her, no holds barred.

Dot's story

So, here is the rest of Dot's story!

In January 2014, a very sad, wet little cat appeared in our garage. She looked older and in poorer health than the other strays that had taken up residence in our garage that cold winter. I got her fixed, along with 7 other stray cats, and continued feeding and caring for them as best I could.

Dot when we first met

In November 2014, I found Dot with an abscess the size of a tennis ball on her little face. I didn't take a photo, because just looking at it made me ill! I rushed her to the ER, where her little face was shaved, the abscess drained, and the vet told me she'd need a clean place indoors to recover. I had no desire to have an indoor cat - my room was tiny and cramped, but I made a little space for her.

Dot in her bowtie

Throughout the winter, I tried to find a home for her, but no home was in need of a sweet cat. So Dot became my cat. I had never shared a room with an animal before - I tried to be stern at first, but I quickly lost the battle for my bed.

I don't know when exactly, but at some point I realized she was my closest friend.

Dot in her favorite spot

Always there next to me, a quiet, loving, patient presence. She was there for me when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, seeing me cry when no one else did. I actually sensed something was wrong with me, when Dot instinctively began sleeping very close to me, pressed against the very spot where my cancer was.

We got through it together, then I met the man who would be my husband. Our first dates were often hangouts at home - we started dating when I was on radiation, and I was always so tired. Dot kept us laughing with her silliness - we bought her special scratch pads and catnip, and in December, a Christmas hat.

In 2017, Matt and I got married and moved into our first apartment together. Matt was not a cat person, and I worried about our life together with Dot. I remember being scared that she would scratch his records or equipment, or our new bed. But none of that happened - Dot was an epically good cat. She left our belongings alone, never scratched furniture or jumped on our couch, but the bed was undeniably her domain.


In 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer again, and again I had a feeling it was coming when Dot began sleeping closer and closer to me. Matt and Dot stood by me through all of my surgeries and chemotherapy.

Dot had a special, magical way of being near to me when no one else could, and seeing grief and worry I'd show no one else.


I never went to the bathroom alone thanks to Dot - which I found especially comforting when I was on chemo. Never, for one minute, was I away from her purring presence, when I felt my worst or most alone.


Dot warms my feet in the bathroom

In October 2018, as I mentioned, Dot was diagnosed with heart failure. The vet cautioned me that Dot could die at any time, including there, in the vet's office. I was discharged with 3 medications I had to give her twice daily. It was an epic struggle getting Dot to take her meds. Every time I thought I'd found the magic method, she'd get finicky, and start rejecting it. And there I was, at my lowest point in energy, struggling, and pulling myself out of bed to give her medicine.

Dot loved when I played the harmonica (although I wasn't any good at it). It was the only time she'd climb in my lap, and she'd sing along. :)

Dot loved the harmonica

Dot's health went up and down, and many days I was sure would be her last. This summer she got very thin, and I was constantly worried about her. Finally I tried Pill pockets, which she loved, and for a month or two she was at her best, taking her meds every day, looking the best I'd seen her yet.


We had just taken her to the vet, who was happy and surprised to see her. But that last week she began rejecting her meds in any form I tried to give them, and eating less and less. Last Saturday, she died suddenly in my arms, I tried to give her meds but it was too late, so Matt and I spent her last few minutes petting her and trying to console her.


When I look back, I see a wonderful trail of blessings, a beautiful path she walked down, with me. I'm not the person I was when she met me - I grew, and so did she, and so did Matt. I feel sad, but also blessed beyond measure. How lucky I was, to love and be loved by her. The greatest lesson I learned from Dot is that nothing in life is permanent - neither pain nor joy, so embrace fully every joy that is before you.

Dot in her happy place

We'll love and miss you always, my Dot.