An hour ago, I put my 21-year-old cat to sleep. LuLu would have been 22 on March 7, 2017. This picture was taken on her 20th birthday.
LuLu was born on the very day my mom died of breast cancer, in this house, in the very room where I now sleep.
While I’m sobbing uncontrollably while I write this, I’m in shock, too. What have I done?
I said I never would put her to sleep. Everyone used to say, “That cat is still alive?” In fact, they were saying that from the days she was about five or six years old.
How did I find LuLu? Well, I met a guy in an AOL chat room (yes, remember those?) He was very nice and we used to have pleasant conversations. I was never one of those guys who would ask “stats” because I was interested much more in the dimensions of a man’s heart, as I am now. That’s not to say I never went through a whore stage, because I certainly did! Although I wasn’t a whore, I was a slut. Whores get paid.
At any rate, because I knew nothing of this man other than the fact he seemed very sweet to chat with, I agreed to a “blind” date in truly the most “blind” of ways. He showed up at my door – all four feet of him (if he was that tall) with a Zesta cracker box. Inside was my little LuLu!
It didn’t work out with the guy (he was very shy, me very flamboyant) but LuLu and I kicked it off from the beginning. She was friendly, but kept her distance too for many years. She was very beautiful. She always used the box. Essentially, she was the perfect cat and never caused any problems at all.
It didn’t work out with the “Little Person” who brought me LuLu, but the next guy I dated also had a real fondness for LuLu and we had a pretty good run. He ended up a getting a cat around the same time I got LuLu, and I believe Bucky is still alive or maybe just recently passed.
LuLu enjoyed having guests over to our Los Feliz apartment. She was not even afraid of unpassable drag queens.
For many years, I had a raging meth problem when I lived in Los Angeles. During a phase when I smoked it, I think either the smoke – my behavior – or both affected the cat in such a way she pulled out all her hair. She had bleeding, open, infected sores. For months at a time. She would hide under the bed.
When I would do drugs, and be up for days, I would forget to feed her for days at a time. Her litter box…ick. It got emptied maybe once a month. But she always used it.
When we moved from Los Angeles (she flew in her own seat, coach, from Los Angeles to Detroit in a corporate move) she immediately began to improve. That was in 2002. We lived in a penthouse at Riverfront Towers, downtown Detroit. The man in the penthouse next to me, Mike (I had a fondness for Mike) also had a cat named Kitty Boy. Mike used to live in my penthouse, but moved to the one next door to construct an elaborate jungle gym for Kitty Boy.
Mike seemed to be a very wise man. I was drawn to him, but he carried a gun, which made me nervous. He told me he needed it for his protection because he had ownership in one of the casinos. Once, his gun fell from its holster, and LuLu bolted four feet into the air.
But Mike and LuLu liked each other, and he brought her toys that she ignored. Mike always told me LuLu would live to be very, very old, that she had special show cat qualities and was one of the most amazing jumpers he ever had seen (indeed, she could jump from the floor to the top of the refrigerator in a single bound). When I left Detroit a year later, I had boxes piled to the top of the ceiling in the living room (which was all glass). LuLu climbed to the top box and fell asleep, literally “on top of the world” in Detroit.
We then returned to Southern California for a short time, which turned out to be a disaster. Finally, we turned around and came home. We were in a terrible car accident on the way home (the U-Haul jackknifed the Honda) but LuLu and I both survived.
LuLu’s skin disease cleared up the moment we moved back here. But she developed quite a bit of attitude. Around that time, at age 8 or 9, she became very vocal, and very bossy. She was a world-class jumper, and could get into anything and knock over anything. She had an unending appetite and would steal a piece of pizza (or a T-bone steak) right out of your hand.
A year and a half ago, her demanding, shrilling, spoiled screaming got to be way too much. I had Pastor Stacie Fidlar perform last rites, and we took her to the vet to be “assassinated,” as my dad always threatened her. After many blood tests, we learned LuLu was in remarkable health. She did not have any thyroid issues. She had a slight kidney dysfunction. What she did have, the vet told me, was dementia-related behavioral issues. Just like her grandpa! They sent me home with a prescription of Xanax for her, and honestly, it has been a good 18 months.
But in the past few weeks, things have changed. Groaning and screaming in the night. Not allowing me to sleep more than a few hours at a time. Her voice has changed. Her walking has become very labored. Sometimes she grasps for breath. She can’t jump up on the furniture anymore.
And me? Quite frankly, I have not been so angry, frightened, and full of despair since I was in the height of caregiving for dad. The realization that this community has so many corrupt, evil, dishonest leaders who I believe would kill their very own children if it meant furthering their political careers sends a chill down my spine.
My father’s estate has turned into an extremely costly, very ugly legal battle. There is zero chance my relationship with my brother ever will be restored. I don’t even want to be buried next to him or even see his face. I dread our Nov. 10 court date.
Yet, despite all of these intense feelings of negativity and disappointment in my community, I have to say: The wait staff at Village Inn on 1st Street Moline bought my lunch for me today. They remember many a time how I’d come in after visiting dad at the substandard memory care facility, in tears. I’d have a piece of pie while I’d wait for the next bus.
My sweet little girl lived all these years, I think, because she was taking care of me, especially toward the end, when she knew I was trying to take care of grandpa while picking myself up by the boot straps too, now 2 1/2 years sober. She knew I needed her. And I think she knows now that, bad as things are, I’m quite capable of driving this thing home by myself, so to speak. There is no need for her to continue to suffer along with me. Soon there will be no reason to ever speak to that nasty brother (who she bit the very last time he ever showed his face here) ever again.
I love you my sweet little girl and all you did for me…half of my entire life, wow! Please tell grandma and grandpa hello, and that I’m going to be just fine. Someday we all will be together again.
I think I’ll remember my girl most fondly when we lived in Belmont Shore, not far from the beach. Wild parrots would roost in the palm trees outside the French Door windows in my living room. She loved sitting on the back of the love seat and keeping watch.
I’ll never forget my sweet little girl and suspect she will be the last animal I ever own. She’s truly irreplaceable.
I felt the way her light was extinguished today — the vet said it would take 10 to 15 seconds, but she was gone the second the injection went in — seemed too easy for such a sassy animal. But in retrospect, it occurred with total peace, and when Dr. Narske wrapped her in a blanket to prepare her for cremation, LuLu looked as beautifully grooomed as she ever had.
Really, what a way to go. For sure she lived a purposeful life, and she was loved by all who knew her.