"You can't see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears."
~ (C. S. Lewis)
I thought she would live forever.... this tiny kitten that we brought home in 1993. Miss Chloe, her sister, was the first born, sedate and dignified. Miss Clover, on the other hand, arrived in this world as an angry camper. She was known as "the dark one" until we settled on her name; while most Siamese are born as small balls of white or cream fluff and only tiny tips of color, she burst on the scene already light tan with a dark mask and vivid blue eyes. As her siblings darkened, so did she until she was almost a dark cocoa all over with a completely black face, tail, ears and paws.
Often her coloring matched her mood. Clover was not one to fawn over visitors nor did she appreciate unsolicited attention from other cats or humans. And yet she would be more than willing to warm your lap all afternoon and sleep next to you all night... but always on her own terms.
Clover had a love affair with boxes... any shape, any size, any color. She could wedge herself in the smallest book box and sleep will at least half of all her parts hanging outside the box or sun her tummy in the produce box from Sam's or play the warrior princess defending her castle in a large QVC box.
Once, when Nyssa and I were packing for a two week vacation, I put a large empty box on the dining room table and labeled it.... "MAIL" for our house sitter. A bit later as I was walking by, I noticed two black ears sticking out of the box, just above the writing. Nyssa took a black and white picture and there she was, thinking she was totally hidden.... just half of her eyes and her ears showing...peeking over the rim.
She was really a cave dweller...Clover loved to burrow.
Yes, she IS the lump under the gray robe. (upper right)
Miss Clover loved to burrow... under anything! If there was a lump on the bed under a robe or throw or in a pile of stuffed animals or pillows, it was likely to be her! She would nudge and nudge the covers at night and inch herself down to my feet..under the sheets and blankets and go to sleep.
She was a cat with many hobbies... bird watching, boxing, sun bathing, catnip-dipping (in any shape or form), photography and sleeping. Her favorite hobby, or perhaps it was more of a "talent" was singing. Clover loved to walk into a darkened bathroom when no one else was around and there she would "sing" in full voice, to be heard all over the house. These were not "mews" or "meows" or "squeaks" or even cat fight "screams", but full-bodied melodious "yowls" that reverberated with a power many opera singers would envy! How did she know that the best acoustics are found in the bathroom?
Miss Clover loved her sister Chloe.... 95% of the time. They were best friends and bathing buddies. Our vet once remarked that he had never seen two cats with such clean ears... he had never seen their post-meal ritual. They groomed each other, sometimes from head to toe. This occasionally provoked a short lived hitting and biting fight which usually ended with both of them staring each other down and then one offering up her ears for the washing to commence again. They ALWAYS slept together... in chairs, on the floor, in the bed... usually entwined and always touching.
They could fight with passion, as most sisters can. I usually took them to the vet together (but in separate carriers) for their yearly visit and left them for the day, picking them up on the way home. On one occasion I arrived at the vet and they asked if I could get them back in their carriers. Apparently, both were in the same exam room and had gotten up into the bookshelves on the wall... Chloe on one side of the divider and Clover on the other. While they couldn't see each other, they knew a cat was on the other side of the shelf, they knew they were at a place that neither wanted to be and that they were NOT going anywhere. The vet techs were met with hissing, spitting, biting and slapping demon possessed animals each time they tried to get them down, so they left them in the exam room all day... and there they were when I went in. The sisters were hissing at me and each other and making a general spectacle of themselves, so I just grabbed each one by the nape of the neck, like their mother would and as soon as they were able to see each other... everything was fine. When they emerged from their respective carriers at home, they immediately bathed each other... had to get that stinky vet smell off!
Somehow I thought she would live forever, or at least longer than my first Siamese, Shamroc, who lived well until the ripe old age of 19. But, she didn't. I thought I could get her to gain weight by tempting her with fancy morsels, or at least stop the spiraling weight loss. But I couldn't. She felt heavier as I carried her to her soft heated bed each day, but the scales said something else; another three pounds lost in one year. She lost the ability to jump on the bed or even climb the pet steps... her balance was gone and her back legs weak. She found it hard to get in and out of her litter box and almost impossible to groom herself, so she quit trying to. She couldn't get the food off of her face after eating and even had trouble climbing onto the soft pallet I fixed for her, sometimes landing half in and half out.
The most devastating loss for Clover was her sight. It was obvious that she was completely blind as she navigated the room by keeping her nose against the wall and by her back and forth head movements as she tried to see shapes in front of her. No cataracts, no glaucoma but some neurologic problem. Her hearing became hyperacute and her sense of smell was still keen, she had no trouble finding the food bowls.
I finally accepted that the time was short. Chloe cried for her sister so I let her into my room with Clover. I have never seen such a patient cat. Miss Clover hissed and growled at her sister, whom she could not see, yet Chloe simply sat beside her until she was calm. I kept the food bowls full and Chloe would sit aside and let Clover eat all she wanted first. I would wipe her face and get her settled on the heated bed, covered with a light and very soft baby blanket; then Chloe would come over and clean Clover's face and ears and curl up next to her to sleep. Later, as Clover still slept, Chloe would have her food. Being together brought a calm to both.
My brother said his good-byes to Miss Clover in September and Nyssa visited one last time. Yes, it was time to end her pain and preserve what was left of her dignity.
On October 8th, I wrapped her in her blanket and drove to the vet. They were, as always, kind and gentle and gave us space and time to let go. I held her in my arms as she relaxed and grew still...her pain finally ending as mine began.
It has taken me over a month to collect my thoughts for this piece. Miss Chloe misses her and still looks for her in my room, but she seems more content with the other cats now... she knows, somehow, that her sister is gone. I catch myself still calling her name or hearing her operatic aria in the distance. What do I miss the most about our Miss Clover??......
"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!"
~ Theophile Gautier
Her presence in those singularly unique, dark blue, marbled eyes that were always clear and piercing. Clover could shoot daggers from those eyes or roll them comically when trying to get a fuzz ball off her nose. Her eyes could melt my heart and ALWAYS did.
Friday's Ark #217... In Memoriam.
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