Good Night, Sweet Hela-kitty. Welcome home Vladimir….

Our kitten, Hela, on brighter days.

Our kitten, Hela, on brighter days.

The worst is each night after we turn out the lights for bed.

Customarily, one of our two sister cats, Hela, would climb up on top of our comforters and wish us both goodnight with pets and purrs before she would settle and Ed and I would fall to sleep.  In the morning, Freyja would wake us up much the same way.

But now, such is not the case.  We had been pulling Ear, the Rune of the Grave for several weeks- indicating “steady decline”-  We kept wondering if perhaps a family member was going to pass before our wedding and Edward and I were both concerned.  Thankfully, our wedding was joyous, and everyone who was meant to be there, made it with no trouble whatsoever.

However, last Thursday night, we awoke to the sounds of Hela throwing up-  She’s a long haired Maine Coon- however, what was unusual is that she was usually so polite about it that she would run to the litter box when necessary.  She cleaned up after herself before we had a chance.

The next morning, Ed found cat urine on the kitchen floor.  Hela was listless, the fur around her lips wet with vomit, and she was obviously ill.   We made the soonest appointment with the veterinarian we could- for the next morning at nine AM.

As Edward was at work, he became increasingly concerned, and he contacted me to take her to the emergency vet and cancel the morning appointment.  During the day, she had some water, but it came up with bile.  She would only move to avoid her sister; Freyja would find her, sniff at her once, and run away.    Hela was curled under my wedding dress, huddled in misery and lace when I found her to put her into the carrier.  Her claws, deep into the carpet as she resisted me picking her up- but yet a total lack of resistance as I put her in the carrier.  Ed’s dad picked us up immediately around 8pm and then, I heard her “Meow” only once the entire trip.  Her weight heavy on my lap as my anxiety grew.

We made it to the vet- we were ushered into a room immediately.  They took her vitals and said they were “fine”- but they concurred she was obviously ill.  They said she was dehydrated.  They left no water or litter in the room for her- but she didn’t seem to mind.   After an hour, I saw the doctor, who said basically, she had no ideas as to what was wrong, but they would write up a treatment plan.

Hours passed….Hela became less responsive and huddled in on herself.  It was now 10:30pm.  We had been in the office for over 2 hours and they wouldn’t even give her an IV without the “estimate” first.  The estimate was well over $3000.00 US; including unnecessary tests, scans, x-rays, and etc.  I worked at a wildlife refuge, when I take in an animal for emergency care, I expect emergency care.  I expected an IV with saline, I expected a pill to sooth her, I expected a litter box placed in the room so that the results from the IV fluid could be seen in her stool or urine.  Instead, I was faced with heartless numbers, no attempts at diagnosis, and a cat who was quickly going from being “sick” to becoming unresponsive entirely.

Edward was on his way- He was Hela’s favorite person, and I couldn’t make the decision myself.  I crossed off most of the items listed on the quote and demanded they rewrite it- they wished for a 2 day hospitalization….that’s fine.  She does not need an FIV test, nor does she need an x-ray, a cat scan, nor any of the more advanced testing until the basics were covered first.  Edward arrived, his father left….

…and it was at this point Ed confessed to me he didn’t expect her to have lasted this long.  He felt from the morning onward she was going to leave us, one way or another.

Soon after Edward arrived- the only moment of clarity  from Hela-kitty came when I prayed to Bast for help…I tried to pray to Freyja, but the only image I could perceive in my head was Freyja enraged in her chariot of war, frightening to behold….and I do not know who it was with whom she was so angry, but I hoped it was not me.

Behind me, I felt I gentle presence, and to my left- an empty chair then contained an almost transparent visage of what looked like a cross between a petite young woman and a gray cat.  Her hair was black, cut perfectly straight and just touched her shoulders.  Hela perked up, walked calmly over to the chair- put both paws upon the seat, then jumped slowly onto that chair itself for a few minutes….then, she crawled off- drug herself across the floor to the corner and became unresponsive entirely, except for the occasional seizure.

I called for a tech, the tech walked in for 2 minutes, declared “I don’t see her seizing” and left.  The seizures came and left sporadically.  Ed and I began to cry- she wouldn’t respond to touch, to sound, and even though her eyes were slightly open, she did not flinch if I suddenly put my hand before her face.

Yes, we honor the Norse Gods- but we have altars to others in our home as well-  Bast has her own space for Eddie- and I have a space for Anubis.

We decided to let Hela go.

The doctor indicated her disapproval of the decision- but it seemed like all the spirit of our bright, beautiful kitten was already gone.  She was only 13 months old….and all that remained was a breathing shell of a cat, huddled comatose in the corner of the room.  Still untreated for what had been several hours….and the seizures and unresponsiveness after the visit from Bast were enough for us.

The vet took her to put in the IV- and told us to wait on “another payment quote”.  We waited another hour, with us both in tears- confused, upset, afraid- and all other emotions- until I had had enough.   I flung open the door and announced to the front desk, “I want to Euthanize my suffering cat- I don’t want her cremated, I want to pay my bill, and I want to take her and my husband home.  Immediately.”

At which point, things started to move.  The vet and the tech looked at us reproachfully as they brought her in wrapped in towels, her eyes were closed as Ed and I held her.  I kissed the fur between her ears repeatedly, and she did not respond or even look at either of us…. but yet, she was still alive, still breathing.  With the first shot, a low rumbling cross between a purr and a growl escaped- and with the rest, we felt nothing change at all.  She didn’t grow heavier in our arms- she didn’t look into our eyes.  If she had looked up at us, if she had responded to anything, we would have stopped.  Instead, we let her go.

They gave us her wrapped in paper in a cardboard casket and a “Souvenir pawprint” for the $200 spent on nothing more than spending hours watching our cat deteriorate until we had no other rational choice.

I was angry at the vet- it was a scam, she wasn’t ever going to get better- not after the seizures and the non-responsiveness, but I felt if she had indeed received “emergency treatment” she might have.  With an IV, she might have perked up, with some pills to clean out her system, maybe, we would still have her.

Hela as a kitten with Eddie.... she did this often.

Hela as a kitten with Eddie…. she did this often.

She always loved swimming in our bathtub or joining Eddie in on his evening baths after coming home from the factory- so we took her to our special lake where we hold ritual around 12:30 AM.   It was apparently a cruise spot where we got to see an old man masturbate in front of another car, headlights shining.  I ignored it…opened the trunk, and took out our cat’s coffin….slowly, carefully, I made it down to the lake, onto a stone pier and I opened the box; I lifted her gently out and threw her as far out as I could and watched her sink beneath the white paper that contained her.  Angrily, I threw both sides of her cardboard coffin opposite directions and returned to the car to my terrified husband who had apparently received several advances by the others in parked cars nearby.

On the night we let Hela go, I lit all the candles on both altars to Anubis and Bast in her honor as well as incense. Part of being polytheistic is knowing that there is more out there than we can possibly understand….and tonight, we were comforted by Bast and owed Her our gratitude for Her kindness….and our prayers to Anubis for a safe journey.

The next day was supposed to be full of activity, some of our closest friends were moving to New York and needed help… our favorite Braucher, Robert Schreiwer was holding his annual Freyfaxi celebration, and later that evening, my grandparents had invited us to dinner.

Despite being a Helsman, the death hit Edward much harder than it hit me (and it hit me hard!)  But, I am a person of crisis, all Lokeans are.  So, I numbed myself and I walked myself through the day.  I drove half an hour to meet my friends who were moving, who simply gave me the key to the house they were leaving and invited us to take their air conditioner and extra kitchen supplies at our leisure.  Ed called Rob, and I allowed Ed the time alone at home to grieve with Freyja who heartbreakingly searched the house for her departed sister.

As I was driving, I recalled from a few years back when one of my cats ran away- her name was Isis, a smallish tuxedo cat my ex and I picked out from the humane society with a respiratory infection the same time we picked up another Calico Torbi we called Eris.   When Isis ran away, my relationship with my boyfriend collapsed (as it did often) as he blamed me for her loss-  we saw her around the property for a few days, but she would not come near us…and he resorted to insane measures to attempt to draw her home- including a live trap which only succeeded in trapping hungry wild kittens and the occasional skunk.
In the meantime, Eris began to DESTROY the house out of frustration and loneliness….Eris had never been alone as a cat, and took out her aggression on us, our furniture, and anything else she could mangle.  I spent time on the Humane Society website and found a lovely cat named Abigail who was around her age- and basically forced my ex to meet her….at which point, he adopted her and when our relationship collapsed for the final time and I dumped him after years of non-compatibility, I asked him to keep them both; who are now both fat and happy with him and his new life.

As the day progressed, and after talking to a veterinary trained friend, we realized Hela had been subtly declining for weeks.  She had no sense of balance, she often ran headfirst into walls,  and suddenly over the course of a two week period, went from Queen of the household to giving her rein and deference to Freyja.   Their smaller brother of the litter was clearly brain damaged… and it did not occur to us that Hela might have had a genetic defect she had been hiding all this time.  Apparently, neurological disorders are very common in wild Maine Coon populations.

As I drove back, I pulled my car over and I called the Humane Society, I told them our story, I asked them for their advice- and they indicated to me that it is better to make large changes all at once rather than drag them out.  I told them I felt a day where our home could house a cat and does not is another day another cat is stuck in a cage or could be needlessly euthanized. Coincidentally, it was also “free cat and kitten day”, and they encouraged Eddie and I to visit them seeing as the adoption fees were waived.

Ed was not well at all- still in bed, undressed and distracting himself with the computer.  Freyja would not come near me.  But I took him with me to the Humane society.   There, in the corner was a gentleman-cat who looked at us proudly- his name tag said “Vladimir”- he was a year old- the same age as our cats…but instead of being small and bobcat-like, he was lean and long, with delicate legs and handsome short hair.   We looked at the kittens vying for the attention of everyone in the other cages…but only Vlad had his eyes on us.   We were told he was in prison since early June and when brought into the room, he began to kiss Eddie on his arms as soon as he was held.  I picked him up as well and he did likewise, so I removed the carrier from the car and we brought him home….learning from one woman at the front desk we had been the only couple to look at him since he arrived.

We saw that the cats were not fighting one another, and we made it through dinner with my grandparents, from whom I had been estranged for over a year.  Hoping I could start to mend the rift between us…but afraid to talk about why it started in the first place: my disability.  We managed a pleasant evening…Eddie was his charming self, and we both got hugs on our way out.

They seem to be adjusting well to one another.  The ginger is Eddie.  The cat is Vladimir.

They seem to be adjusting well to one another. The ginger is Eddie. The cat is Vladimir.

The Humane Society called Vlad a “Stray” who was brought in with no information- but we put a collar on him and he seemed almost as proud as Freyja was with hers the first day. ( Hela would hiss if a collar so much as touched her.)  The first night, Vlad slept with one paw on each side of Eddie’s head with his head nuzzled under his beard.  The first day, he also discovered Hela’s catnip…and like I have never seen before, took each toy he liked and attempted to give it to Freyja…. who was curious of him, but would not get too close except when he was not looking.

By yesterday, they were sharing the sacred spot on the windowsill, without fighting.  inches apart from one another.

But still, Freyja has been wary of me… despite playing with Vladimir from a distance, when I enter the room- she mock- swats at him with her claws in, and appears disdainful of me.  Only now has she actually began to purr with me again.

We miss Hela with all our hearts, we miss her beautiful kitten-soft fur, her gentle nature, her love of new company and her hospitality to our friends and family (Freyja is antisocial!).  We miss our goodnight Kitty.  We miss her dearly, and it still hurts.

Vlad seems to know this, though- and has been a gentleman trying to cheer up the house- he’s a cat all the way… with normal cat head-butts, purrs, and noises- where our girls were mostly silent.  He’s short haired and polydactal,  making his front paws look more like hands.  He will never replace Hela- he was never meant to, he was meant to be a companion to Freyja so she would not go mad as Eris did- However, he is something entirely new in our lives and very, very welcome.  From his mannerisms and the timeline given by the Humane Society, we have concluded he must have belonged to a college student during the year- adopted as a kitten the first week of college, and surrendered at the beginning of summer- when it was realized cats were not welcome “back home”.

Cats and humans do not mourn in the same ways.  Freyja still looks for her sister, but has already begun to forgive me; additionally, she now seems to have a suitor which pleases her (although they are both “fixed”).

Eddie and I are still in mourning, and might not be very active for some days yet- but we’ll be okay.

Vladimir's first picture in his new home.

Vladimir’s first picture in his new home.

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6 Responses to “Good Night, Sweet Hela-kitty. Welcome home Vladimir….”

  1. I have always had a special bond with cats, moreso than any other animal, so this touched me deeply. It reminded me of my own stories of pet loss. This has inspired me to post about what happened to me. I’m sorry the hospital was so imcompetant and money hungry, when like you said, an iv might have saved her life. I know from experience that the spirits of our cats come back to visit off and on. I know what it’s like to bawl for days after losing a beloved pet. And even months, years after sometimes when you think of them. In my experience, I carried an injured cat that had been run over by a car to the sidewalk so he would at least be off the road. The cat didn’t make it, but that night I dreamed saw him among many other cats in the yard of the big abandoned white house that had been across the street. I had to bring a gift of something I dont’ remember to an old lady who lived there, who had the sweetest personality ever. I can’t help but wonder if She was a Goddess in disguise, caring for these spirit cats.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my beloved cat, Tiger, whom I always called Tiggles, last year on April 1st. I miss him very much.

  3. […] I would enter the room she would come down and mew loudly for attention.    Ed lost his kitten Hela  in 2013, she was also a climber, loved to destroy feathers, and exhibited similar fearless […]

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