Saturday, April 3, 2010

So How's The Bean, You Ask?




Several of you we're curious about how Charlene's been doing since we lost Drewey, so I thought I would address it here for everyone.

I think she knew something was going on towards the end. Normally when we get busy and distracted, Charlene feels neglected and acts out by doing naughty things like scratching the rugs or furniture or hopping up on table tops. Instead, she was a good, patient girl. She stayed close to Drewey, but not so close that it irritated Drewey.

On the day Drewey passed, after we returned from the vet, Charlene kept a very low profile. She slept all day on top of the bed. In the evening, she wandered downstairs and looked out the front window into the dark for a long time, then napped on the back of the couch. By late eve, her somber spell broke and joined us in front of the TV, looking for some play time.

I wouldn't say she's acting mopey or sad now, but I think she understands what has happened and knows we're not feeling quite our normal selves.

So she wouldn't feel alone, and because they are so healthy, I decided to spring the kittens from quarantine a day early. Charlene was glad to meet them, but I think a bit overwhelmed by their quantity. Pia and Fern were the most excited to meet her. Thelma was the first to submit to a Beanie bath.

It's hard to know exactly what's going on inside Charlene's bean, but I think our girl is coping with things just fine.

It sounds as though we're not the only ones who've lost an animal friend recently. I hope all of you can take away a little something that will make you feel better from all those lovely words that were left for us.

It really is hard to express how much your words mean. We're still sad, but we know we're surrounded by people who understand, which means the world.

Around you, there's no need to explain red, puffy eyes. You won't say "gee, you look tired", and with the sound of one single sniffle, you instinctively pass a box of tissues, no questions asked.

So once again, a huge, heart-felt thank you. And again, I must say, I hope you know how special you are.

One last thing....
I wanted to share a poem that Anne Boleyn shared with me. It was featured today on The Writer's Almanac and the timing couldn't be more perfect. If you have time, listen to it here. I found it's better heard than read.

Pushkin by Marjorie Kowalski Cole

The old cat sleeps
in the newly arrived sun. One more spring
has come his way
dropping a solar bath
on failing kidneys, old cat bones.
I check for the rise and fall of breath.

Once he stalked hares
across the yard, tracked down
chicken hearts with split-lentil eyes.
Fearless, disinterested, a poseur, a demideity.
He and the dog are strangers still
after years of eating side by side.

I remember times of wailing
into my couch, alone
and utterly baffled by life,
when suddenly a cat
would be sitting on my head.

Last week I pulled him snarling
from under a chair in Dr. Bacon's office,
held him while she examined his dull coat,
felt his ribs. Pressed where it hurt.
Eight pounds of fur and bone and mad as hell
but "He's certainly less anxious in your lap,"
she murmured, astonishing me.
I had no idea. Old cat, old friend,
have I reached some place inside,
added to your life
as you have to mine?


  1. What a touching poem. It warmed my heart and made me weep simultaneously.

  2. That was beautiful. All of it - the poem, the kittens, Ms. Bean - all of it. When I lost my cat last year, I could still feel him sleeping on me at night for months afterwards. It was comforting and painful at the same time. He was my buddy and this poem reminds me of that bond. "Old cat, old friend, have I reached some place inside, added to your life as you have to mine?" I like to think he felt that way and I know that Drewey felt that way about you. All my best to Team Butterbean.

    And, I have lots of kleenex. :)

  3. Thank you for the update on Ms. Bean, and also for that beautiful poem.

    Cats have been a part of my life since I was old enough to hold one. They not only offer entertainment and companionship, but also an incredible source of comfort when life is not playing fair with me.

    However, I have never thought about how I may have enriched their lives...the poem has given me food for thought :)

  4. I try not to burden others with my own memories of loss during their mourning, but that poem was too much. I lost 17 1/2 year old Sunshine (orange tabby, natch), in 2005. So thin, once striped fur faded to a dull yellow, and so intensely annoyed with everything. But she'd been one of those consistently annoyed since kittenhood.

    The thing about the dog, though, in the poem. We got Sunshine as a kitten roughly at the same time we got our dog, Sam. They lived together for nearly 17 years and acted as if the other never existed. Except when one was gone for some reason. Then it was pacing and worry. Until they were reunited; then back to pretending it was a one pet household.

    Sunshine outlived Sam by almost a year, and it's been 4 and half years since Sunshine's been gone. I'm almost over them.

  5. Sniffle. My two nearly-grown kittens are the first pets I've ever had, and to imagine losing them is unbearable. What a lovely poem. I'm glad the Bean is doing well, and that you guys have such a wealth of babies to distract you from your grief.

  6. Thank you, Laurie, for sharing all of this with us in what surely is a difficult time. You should not be surprised with all of the love you have received from the IBKC family, we merely repay what you give with a little interest added.

    Yes, IBKC "family"...and Drewey was instrumental in making all of this possible. She sowed the seeds of many friendships and improved the lives of innumerable cats. That is a wonderful legacy and it will live on for a long time. She is at rest now, but her work continues!

  7. That poem was beautiful. I have a 9 yo kitty named Oreo who was my very first pet. I am away from home at college and miss him dearly. I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to my "O-Man". I get all sniffly and teary eyed just thinking about it

    You left just as much an impression on Drewey as she left on you. The love and care you give to the Bean and all your foster kitties are a testament to how wonderful you and your family are. Drewey was a very lucky kitty to have been with you for her life. I am sure she is in kitty heaven happy, healthy, and playing with all the other angel kitties. Looking down and watching all the great things you are doing for all your little bundles of fur.

  8. (((Anne B))) Thank you for sharing the wonderful Pushkin with Laurie. (((Laurie))) Thank you for passing it along and letting us know that Charlene and her beans are coping. I haven't the words, so just hugs.

  9. More hugs! Some cats make a very deep impression in our lives; Miss Flora Underfoot was certainly that kind of cat, and Drewey must have been too. Drewey and Flora are where clouds and tears are but rumors. I imagine a springtime floral day, with warm sun, grass and gopher smells, and gentle breezes tickling their whiskers. :)

  10. *hugs*
    It may be because I'm already tired and overemotional, but that poem reminded me of my dog's last days. He hated being in strange places and when we took him to the vet after we noticed he was in pain, he crawled right out of his bed and under the chairs and it took me a good ten minutes to get him out from under there without hurting him more. Then I had to hold him and comfort him in the vet's office while we realized we couldn't pay for anything but pain medication to make him hurt less.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you strength to deal with it and joy from the rest of your wonderful cats.

  11. I am crying I lost the last of a litter I kept 20 years a go .It has been very hard to say goodbye to each one when the time came. The last of my babies lived to almost 20.Don't you hate it when 'they' say but it was only a cat. It is wonderful to have a place, a blog to visit where everyone knows it was not just a cat. thank you for this place to come . hugs bcat

  12. Hi

    I just wanted to say hi because I've just started a foster kitten blog and I thought I'd look to see if there were any other kitten fosterers out there blogging too and I found you! So i just wanted to say hi from the UK and best of luck with everything you're doing!

  13. We're glad Charlene is coping well. Happy Easter to yoo all.

  14. G expressed it so well: Drewey leaves behind such a rich legacy, she has contributed and continues to contribute to so many lives, both animal and human; her work does indeed continue.
    That poem is absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing it, and everything else, with us in spite of the pain. Hugs to all of you.

  15. My condolences. Thanks for the poem, also.

  16. Blessings on the entire IBKC community as we remember Drewey and celebrate the lives of our own beloved cats and dogs. The comments on this post are more good poetry for us to share. XO

  17. A couple of years ago we had to have our old boy put to sleep (at home; we were blessed to be able to afford that but if not we would have brought him home to show our other cat) and we showed him to his sister after he'd died. She was unconcerned and never looked for him. They weren't meant to live forever so they accept death, it's we humans that have the problem because we were created to live forever on earth and so don't accept it.

  18. Thank you for sharing about Bean. Its a lovely poem thank you for sharing. Made me smile but cry at the same time. Glad Bean has kittens to see her busy, and you too!

  19. As time goes by I think our pets that have crossed over come to us in our memories, thanking us for comfort and the release from their pain, aiding us in releasing the sadness of the days of illness proceeding their transition to be reminded of the years of good health and love.

    Now, for Miss Fern. There is one in every litter. She's the kitten that is doubly blessed with energy, personality and absolute attitude. She's a queen cat in the making. By the look on her face, I do believe Queen Bean recognizes a kindred spirit.

  20. Yeah, this one ripped the scab off the spot where Mooch's passing hit me. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that when the pain hit and she was confused and scared that she came to me right away. (I still beat myself up for not recognizing it immediately.) So, yeah, the lines, "Old cat, old friend, have I reached some place inside, added to your life as you have to mine?" Wow. Big lump in the throat.

    I think this week, I'm finally going to get a memorial tattoo of Mooch from the Mutts comic -- the character she was named after -- and have some of her ashes mixed into the ink.

  21. Oh my! That poem... I am typing through the tears. It's been only a few weeks since I lost my dear Sampson, (aka Sammiosa, Samsonite, Sammie...) - and it was his kidneys that failed, and it was an unseasonably warm sunny day and he purred in my arms until the tonic stopped his heartbeat. Even with 3 other cats and 3 dogs, there is an emptiness in the house and an emptiness in my heart. It is never easy to say goodbye. But, Lord, what would we do without these furry angels who choose to spend their too-brief moments on earth with us?

    I love that you and the Bean have this litter of Lytteltons to help heal your heartache.

  22. I'm glad to hear Butterbean is coping. When my parents had to put down my cat, Opus, his sister, Dorthy, knew something was wrong. Opus went into a diabetic coma and suffered brain damage and went blind. He couldn't eat. Dorthy avoided him. It was like she knew he had already passed on but his body was being kept alive. After he was put to sleep, Dorthy stayed close to any familiar people until she passed on of natural causes 8 years later.

    We all know the pain won't completely go away. I will remember Drewey and the funny pictures she was in. I wish everyone at the IBKC the best. Maybe when you're ready to adopt another kitty you would consider an adult? All my cats had lost a home and had no one else to love them. It's a special feeling knowing you gave a cat a second chance. The poem's question: have I reached some place inside, added to your life as you have to mine? is answered with a clear yes whenever they look at me.

    Thank you for all you've done.

  23. Sweet Bean, it is nice to know that the Lyttletons are loose to help you cope with Drewey's physical absence.

    Please share some purrs with Laurie and Craig.

    And Anne Boleyn - what a poem!

  24. I didn't know - I am so very sorry. There is no easy way to let a furry friend go - even if, as I do believe, it is only for this life on earth. Heartfelt loves from the Museum crew.

  25. Laurie, my heart goes out to you and Craig. I know words never seem enough, and all you can do is try to convey the sadness and understanding. Last week, my partner's brother had to put down a very cherished family dog due to illness and just today my family cat passed away due to old age. I think anyone who has ever lost a pet will agree that our pets have been loved and will be missed, and in our thoughts.

  26. Friend Anne - thank you; Friend Laurie, and Craig and Charlene: they've said it all as well or better than I could There is nothing like a bit of sad to draw a loving community together and so we are, and so we go forward, sad but together.

  27. Much love to Laurie, Craig, Charlene, and all of the kittens they have and will care for.

    "Pushkin" was such a lovely and fitting poem. It reminded me so much of Harry who left me just a couple of months ago. Harry came to me as an old cat and we had some good times together before the end. I have always hoped that his time with us gave him comfort as he sickened and passed.

  28. Jason,, we're not really thinking about bringing another permanent cat or kitten into our lives right now. I'm sure in time there will be another.. but for now, it will just be Charlene plus foster kittens.

  29. Such an apt poem. Our thoughts are with you, Craig, and the Bean. And the kittens, of course.

  30. The poem is lovely! I think cats know. The night before my beloved Albee passed, he was laying at my feet under the coffee table. Henry knew he wasn't feeling well, so he just layed down next to him. Albee placed his paw on top of Henry's paw, as if to say, "My time has come, take care of mom". It was the sweetest gesture I have ever seen. The next day Albee had passed while I was at work, and I still feel bad for having to work that day and not being there, but Henry was with him, and when I got home, I watched Henry lay quietly next to Albee's still body, as if guarding him, very gentle, very serene. They know.

  31. What a very touching poem. Many hugs to you. I know that animals grieve in different ways and I sure hope that the Bean gets through the loss with the new kittens on hand. I have lost so many cats and dogs and a horse during the past 14 years that somedays I wondered if I would make it. One year I lost my precious very special kitty Phoenix and my horse within 3 days of each other and I cried for months. Losing a precious furkid is very hard and anybody that thinks it's "just a pet" and says move on, get over it....well, I can't even write what I would like to say to them. They have no idea how it is to love a gentle animal. Lots of hugs and love to you and the Bean and also the new kitties. Love, Debbie

  32. We lost one of our own in January, so we know it isn't easy. Each one leaves a hole in your heart and a lot of smiles through the tears.

  33. what a beautiful poem. *more tears* Thank you for sharing it. (deb and stinky)

  34. Thank you for that lovely poem. I will be forwarding it to several friends. My Quincy passed away in August, and I still can't look at pictures of him. You are all in my thoughts.

  35. Charlene: I gots kittens, lots!!!!

    Love the poem, thank you for posting that:-)

  36. Laurie,

    Yes, I know I probably mentioned a new cat too soon. For that I am sorry. But I wanted to get the proverbial foot in the door about adopting adult cats. It's worked out pretty well for me. You've done such a good job with the kittens. I cheer when they get adopted. But I cheer more when I read about an adult cat finds a new home. You see adult cats who are up for adoption have known loss and hardship. When they do find their home it's extra special.

  37. What a wonderful poem. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I lost my old man-kitty Gus nearly 2 years ago. I adopted him late in his life, but was blessed to have him as my best friend for over five years before he passed at approximately 18 years of age. I've had a soft spot for older kitties ever since - I always loved seeing pictures and posts about Drewey. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I loved the part of the poem about the dog, and your comment that at the end, Charlene "stayed close to Drewey, but no so close that it irritated her." We have another kitty, Spike, who we got as a kitten to be a companion for Gus. Needless to say, Gus never took to Spike, and quickly established himself as the Big Boss Man Who Shall Not Be Bothered. Gus got very sick very suddenly; he needed to be euthanized that same day. On that day, Spike wouldn't leave his side. When we came home and found him ill, Spike was lying right by his side. Gus moved to two or three other locations over the next few hours, and Spike followed him everywhere, always laying down and watching. Spike wasn't napping, because he never closed his eyes. He literally kept a vigil over Gus. He never got too close or tried to play or instigate him (all the normal stuff). I'd never seen anything like that before, and it just touched me so much that Spike was so protective towards his friend. I'm glad Charlene has the Lyttletons to keep her spirits up.

  38. My 2 cats paced the house and meowed out to their brother, Boochie (10/27/08) for days. I'd forgotten that they were going to hurt as much as I did. What a lovely poem. I never got to hold Drewey but I loved her anyways.

    Once again, my deepest, deepest sympathies.

  39. Im so sorry to hear about Drewey. She sounded like a wonderful kitty. I read the 20 things you didn't know about Drewey. She was a cool cat and very much loved. When the time was near you did the right thing. We humans do not want our sweet babies to suffer. I always hold my sweet babies as the doctors give those shots that take away our sweet babies. I think in the end that is the greatest and bravest thing to do is be there and let your face be the last thing they see when they cross over the bridge. Drewey was a good cat. We also like your pictures of the kitties playing too. So how life goes on.
    Paws & Whiskers,
    Jude,Poo,Babybella,Piper,Marley & Melody

  40. Oh, thank you so much for posting this poem! It perfectly describes my relationship with my last "difficult but lovable" cat. The spoken version brings tears to my eyes, remembering him.



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