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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Pixie is gone.

Posted on 2008.07.17 at 09:09
Tags: ,

Pixie ~ June 19, 1999 – July 16, 2008

I am still in a disoriented state, sitting here waiting for the water meter guy from the city to come and change our meter so I can go to work, but I wanted to write this post, to help sort out my feelings and to pay tribute to a very beautiful cat.

Yesterday afternoon Pixie was put down. I am still sort of in shock in between crying jags. For those who want to hear how this came to pass, here follows an account and some pictures.

As I said in my post about the Sam and Frodo dolls and Raoul’s passing on June 19 (was that only the day before yesterday?), Pixie had been looking really good when we got home a week ago last Sunday from our reunion trip. She was eating well and was more peppy and spritely than she'd been for a month, so we were really optimistic she would live until Rachel got home, at the very least. But Monday evening she didn't want to eat her evening meal. The next morning, Tuesday, she looked like a classic sick cat. She was much too warm; I figured she must have some sort of fever. Like someone with a fever she didn't want to eat anything and was weak and listless, just sitting in the loaf-of-bread position, her head near the ground, as if conserving her energy, or coping with contained pain and discomfort. She was breathing in a rather laboured way. All day she kept herself behind a chair in the living room, perched on a blanket. That is so unlike her usual social self.

I had noticed, too, before last week that her rib cage seemed to be sort of splayed out, held out from her body. It definitely looked splayed out now. Before, I had wondered if it wasn't just an optical illusion, because her waist was thinner from losing weight during the last few months. But, no, her rib cage definitely extended outwards, more apparent when she lay on her side. This worried me because her diagnosing doctor back in January had told us that breast cancer often metastasized to the lungs. Looking at her splayed ribs and watching her heavy breathing I thought, could it be lung tumours taking up that space?

But it was the fever that seemed to be the problem, making her depleted and ill-looking. Where was it coming from? She's had little fevers before from which she recovered, so I decided to wait till this morning to see how she was.

Yesterday morning Pixie was still too warm, but a little less so, yet she was still weak and listless, hunkering in the loaf-of-bread position, her head low and neck stretched forward. She stayed wherever I put her, not moving from the spot. I made her an appointment as soon as the clinic opened. A vet could see her in the late morning. Fortunately I did not have to work.

The vet who saw her confirmed that Pixie had a fever and that her breathing sounded laboured. Considering Pixie's diagnosis of cancer, and cancer being a cause of fevers, she took x-rays of Pixie’s upper body. I waited.

She came back looking unhappy. I knew it couldn't be good news, and she said that Pixie was in a very bad way. Was it lung tumours, I asked? Whatever was the state of her lungs, the vet replied, she wasn't able to see it: Pixie's chest was so filled with fluid her lungs were mostly obscured. Her heart, which should be plainly visible on the x-ray, was completely hidden. From what could be seen, the fluid was compressing her lungs against the back of her rib cage. She couldn't eat and had a fever because she was drowning in fluid, yes, fluid that was making her ribs stand out. It had to have been building up each day until her body couldn't cope any more. “If this were my cat,” the vet said, glancing darkly up at the x-ray pinned to the viewer, “I wouldn’t wait until tomorrow to put her down.”

I was in shock. Tears began to rise. I felt as though I'd come to the doctor with a sore finger and been told I needed to have my hand amputated—right then. I brought Pixie in expecting to be given a fever reducer, not told that she was failing, fatally, right now.

Could the fluid be drained? I asked, grasping for time—a week, a couple of days. Yes, the vet said, there was a medical procedure for that, but considering her condition, it would come right back and she'd have to go through this all over again. “With her chest filled like this, she's having a very hard time trying to breathe. No matter how well she appears to be coping—cat-like—she is certainly in very considerable distress.”

I burst into sobs and asked if I could be alone, to call my husband first before I made a decision. I knew my husband would want to be there, and personally I needed time to take in the enormity of it. Pixie was my darling, darling girl. If Raoul was unofficially “Rachel's cat”, and if Angelo is Glen's (in terms of whom each cat seemed to love best), Pixie was mine.

I couldn't reach Glen at once, so I called the vet back in and asked if I could go home and then come back for a late appointment, Glen joining us if possible. So the afternoon went on, I brushed Pixie’s hair, cleaned her eyes, and took pictures (I hadn’t taken many in the past two weeks, thinking we still had plenty of time). I held her on my lap.

Then I drove her to the vets and was ushered to the end of the corridor, to the room where consultations and most euthanasias are done. My husband arrived, and, after the merciful, almost shockingly swift and easy procedure, our darling Pixie had slipped away. The vet left us alone as we continued to stroke her. I stooped for a last kiss, then another—no, one more—then my husband and I hugged each other and wept into each other’s shoulders. These two euthanasias, not quite a month apart, have been very hard on my husband. He’s never attended any of our pet’s death before. The experience, while possessed of its own bittersweet beauty, is a huge challenge to the societal training that men must not cry.

Because we had arrived in separate cars, Glen coming from work, I drove home alone. In the privacy of the Honda I cried and cried, loudly and messily, almost unable to see the road. My little darling girl gone, just like that, not even a month after Raoul.

We called our daughter later yesterday evening. She is feeling terribly shocked and devastated—both by the deaths of such beloved cat friends and because she feels so helpless, unable to have be here to see them again, and wanting to so badly. “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone back to college", she said. I tried to console her, arguing reasonably that we can’t put our life on hold on the chance that we might not see our loved ones again. We can never know when the people or pets we love will die. But I don't think she was consoled. She was the one who chose Pixie at the cattery, above all the kittens, and the reason we adopted Pixie at all.

Last night, when we came home with the empty cat carrier, Angelo, our last cat, was beside himself, yowling all around the house as if he knew. He's never been an only cat. I think we are going to have to get another kitten.


Below are pictures from Pixie’s life, as much for me to look at as you. How we loved our little minx, and how lucky we were to adopt her. She had a face like a little devil, a prowling walk like a mountain lion, but she was the friendliest cat in the world. She came into our lives as the boss of the house, possessed of an easy authority, having reared three litters of kittens. But her authority was loving and maternal. She was a wonderful companion to sick cats and humans, keeping company with each cat that became ill, grooming them and comforting them. Ah, Pixie, how I will miss you!

Pixie (“Fairydust Pixie Kiss”) at four weeks, August 1999, held in the hands of the breeder’s young daughter. Pixie was her favourite cat then, too. It must have been hard for her to see Pixie adopted away:

Out of chronological sequence, here is a shot of Pixie on New Year’s Day, 2003, curled up against my hand. She loved sleeping curled up. When she curled up in a tight ball you knew she was in a very deep sleep.

Back to her childhood, this is Pixie at six weeks, already a little rascal:

Pixie the young mother, 2000 – 2001. She had three litters while she was a breeding cat. Our cats, Angelo and Friedrich, were from her second litter. The breeder said Pixie was an excellent mother, except that she moved her babies so much, carrying them in her mouth, she wore the hair off the backs of their necks.

Pixie came to live with us in the spring of 2002, and immediately ingratiated herself with everyone. Like her sons, she most loved sleeping with Raoul, big, warm and placid. The boys tended to fidget.

In the picture below, from November 2002, she just woke from sleeping with Raoul in his favourite bed, a basket in front of a heat vent.

This is Pixie on my shoulder in June, 2003, a few days before her 4th birthday. What a “girlfriend” she was.

This shot of the Big Three was taken in August 2007 (Friedrich had died two years before). Pixie is in the center. She was 8 years old.

Pixie was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer at a routine physical this year, in January 2008. But she felt well for many months, and finally rallied after her surgery in mid-May to remove three breasts with enlarged, aggravating tumours that she was beginning to chew on.

Here she was in February, laying in front of a heat vent. What a face.

This is her engaged in one of her favourite pastimes, sleeping with Raoul. It woke her when I took the shot.

This is one of my favourite cat shots ever. I posted it in May. By this time Raoul was sick, too, but Pixie was feeling well enough to comfort him, wearing the little convalescent shirt I made for her, so she wouldn’t chew on her sutures.

Then, the end.

These pictures were taken yesterday, June 16, the day she died. Knowing she was going to die, and regretting not having taken more pictures of her in the previous weeks, especially for our daughter’s sake, I took several pictures. I cleaned her face and smoothed her rumpled sick-cat fur, and coaxed her to look at the camera (instead of drooping her head down), so we’d have some nice shots to remember her last days by.

Me holding Pixie, using the mirror over the mantel to try and get a last picture of us together:

Just a little pet and a scratch….

Pixie looks up as I call to her….

She meets my gaze.

Last, another of my all-time favourite shots, Angelo reaching up to give Pixie a comforting lick. I am sure Angelo and Pixie never realized they were mother and son, and their relationship was not as close as theirs with Raoul, the favourite of all the other cats, but it is clear that Angelo misses her very much.

I couldn’t look at this picture and not think of Galadriel giving the kiss of benediction to Frodo in Lothlorien.

Bless you, Pixie. I hope I see you in heaven.

Well, time to dry my eyes and go to work.

~ Mechtild


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shirebound at 2008-07-17 16:35 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Mechtild, what a beautiful, special cat, and a wonderful tribute. Such a shock for you, I can't even imagine it.

Please be gentle with yourself, and know that you gave her a loving, exceptional life and family.

*hugs you tight*
mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:39 (UTC) (Link)
*relishes hug* Thanks, Shirebound. I'm back from work, still feeling a bit bruised, but more able to think of her whole life in perspective rather than just its ending.
mariole at 2008-07-17 16:45 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, I'm so very sorry. It's so hard to lose a good friend like this. My thoughts are with you.
mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:40 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Mariole. She really was my special "girlfriend". My "bed buddy", too. She loved to snuggle under the covers.
maeglian at 2008-07-17 17:00 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Mechtild, what can I say? Once more you did the right thing for one of your cats, and I am sure Pixie blessed you for your kindness as she was slipping away after all her pain and discomfort. But that doesn't mean it's not hard for you, so very hard. I'm sending many thoughts and well-wishes your way, be very sure of that!

The pictures of Pixie are very lovely, a beautiful testament to a rich and happy cat-life. :-)
mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:42 (UTC) (Link)
((((((Maeglian)))))) Can you believe you are back in this thread commiserating with me so soon? I was telling Shirebound above that today was a day of tears, but also of thinking of her whole life, and not just her death. Making this entry helped me get perspective. I always thought Frodo got some of that sort of therapy writing about the War of the Rings.
bagma at 2008-07-17 17:04 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm so sorry for you!

I felt as though I'd come to the doctor with a sore finger and been told I needed to have my hand amputated-right then

The same thing happened to us 13 years ago when we had to put down my first cat, and I still remember the shock my husband and I felt at the time...:(

My thoughts are with you and your family, and with poor Angelo.

mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:43 (UTC) (Link)
The same thing happened to you? Isn't it awful! With Raoul, we could adjust to losing him a day at a time for nearly a month. Sad as it was at the end if wasn't shocking. But I'm feeling better after writing this. Thanks for stopping in.
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mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:44 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Mews. *smooch*
whiteling at 2008-07-17 18:00 (UTC) (Link)

I'm so, so sorry for you. My thoughts are with you and Pixie and the rest of the familiy. It's so hard to lose such a good friend... and what a beautiful girl she was!
(I actually do believe that we meet our beloved pets in heaven again)
mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:45 (UTC) (Link)
I know you know what it's like Whiteling, having just lost your little cockatiel, also suddenly. When we get to heaven with our pets, let's get together! I am hoping it looks like the place Tolkien envisioned in "Leaf by Niggle". Animals would love it there. :)
aliensouldream at 2008-07-17 18:09 (UTC) (Link)
I am so sorry dear Mechtild, for both Pixie and Raoul. They both look very special. At least she had many children and a very loving home *hugs*
mechtild at 2008-07-17 22:51 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for stopping in, Aliensouldream. Yes, she reared many children--15 in her three litters. I am so glad humans don't usually have to have that many--and she would have had many, many more if she'd never been neutered. But she did have a job rearing them all. The breeder didn't believe in letting kittens go to new homes until they were at least four months old. So Pixie had her work cut out for her, at which she was very accomplished. When I was a little girl, I remember us getting kittens that were only 8 weeks old, not 12. I think responsible cat fanciers have learned that kittens grow into better-adjusted cats if they have a longer time learning with their mothers and siblings.
wendylady1 at 2008-07-17 18:18 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Mech,
What a terrible month you've had with your cats...I am so, so sorry !

These cats have clearly had a loving home all of their lives with you, and so you should feel proud of that, and the fact that, when their time came, you didn't shirk the unpleasant task of doing the right thing for both of them...

Poor Pixie - what an unpleasant thing to suffer - I know what it is to witness sickness in a cat, and feel helpless and powerless, only to be told by the vet that there is nothing they can do either.

You will need a while to recover before you acquire a new kitten in need of a home, I expect, but when you do, they will be lucky to get you as their owner!!

mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:00 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for commenting, Wendy. Yes, it's hard to hear hard news at the vet's, or at the doctor's. Writing my post, and sheer time, has been helping me to get perspective. In a way, now, I am glad that her decline was so short. A long period of dwindling would have been much worse. Easier for us, giving us time to adjust to the coming loss, but worse for her.

As to the new kitten, I would like our daughter to help choose a new kitten, and she won't be back until the middle of September. Then it will depend on whether we can find some reputable breeder in driving distance who has kittens. The breeder from whom we got Pixie and her sons no longer breeds cats, but she's given us a lead to someone who still breeds cats that share some of the same bloodlines. I want another ultra-friendly cat. It's very demanding, breeding and showing cats, with all the driving and fees and vet bills and so forth. I hadn't realised it until I met her. She wasn't running some big cat factory, she was just a very nice young woman who loved Siamese cats, with a normal day job, whose hobby was breeding and showing beautiful Siamese cats.

Edited at 2008-07-17 11:01 pm (UTC)
primula_baggins at 2008-07-17 18:39 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I am sorry beyond words. *sigh* To lose two of your babies so close together is just so difficult for you, I'm sure. Pixie was very young, wasn't she? So, so sad. I hope you can get another kitty to keep Angelo company.

"I couldn’t look at this picture and not think of Galadriel giving the kiss of benediction to Frodo in Lothlorien."

So true. It really does. Gosh, I'm just weeping so much about this, Mechtild.

*wipes tears too*
*hugs of sympathy*
mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:08 (UTC) (Link)
Pixie was "middle-aged", but very fit and lively for her age, still carrying on like a teenager. She turned nine in June. That would be like a human's fifty. Apparently breast cancer strikes cats at just about that age, typically. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Primula.
aquila0212 at 2008-07-17 18:40 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so sorry, sweetheart. She was really beautiful.
mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:08 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, sweetie. She was beautiful, outside and inside.
ink_gypsy at 2008-07-17 19:06 (UTC) (Link)
My condolences for your loss. It sounds like you had an incredible relationship with Pixie. It's obvious you loved her, and just as obvious she knew it.

This is such a lovely tribute in words and pictures. Pixie was a lucky girl to have been a member of your family.

My thoughts are with you.

Edited at 2008-07-17 07:08 pm (UTC)
frodosweetstuff at 2008-07-17 19:25 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Mechtild, I'm so very very sorry. *hugs you tightly* Please do get a kitten soon, for Angelo's sake as well as yours.

I wish I could give you RL hugs. There is so little of comfort to say in a situation like this. But I do hope you will get to meet dear, beautiful Pixie and all the others in heaven one day.

Ever since you posted the cat pics I felt I knew them all a bit and now I have to say goodbye to Pixie and Raoul and it breaks my heart.

*hugs tightly*
mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:11 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, she was my buddy. Well, she was buddies with everyone, actually, she was so friendly and gracious. But she was the cat who would snuggle with me under the covers, or nestle in my lap when I was feeling low, or give me her silly, endearing breathy little Marilyn Monroe meow from the kitchen stool when she wanted her dinner, one paw lifted daintily. Thanks so much for stopping by, Frodosweetstuff.
shelbyshire at 2008-07-17 19:38 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, I'm so sorry.
mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:12 (UTC) (Link)
((((((hugs))))) Thanks, Shelbyshire.
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mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for stopping in, Luthien. I know from your stories how much you love animals and think highly of their abilities to attach and be devoted.

Your finches died? When was this? How are finches as pets? I've never owned birds. A lovely Tolkien friend of mine just suffered the death of one of her pair of cockatiels, whom she says are great bird-friends.
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not_alone at 2008-07-17 20:40 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Mechtild - I'm terribly sorry to hear this sad news. It's hard enough to lose a beloved pet when they've had a long life, but when they're still young it makes it so much worse. The pics are beautiful, though I felt terribly sad as I looked at them. And as you say, the last one is so Galadriel & Frodo.

Poor Angelo, he must feel so lost and confused. I'm sure he'd love the company of a new kitty - and if you do decide to get one it will be a very lucky kitten indeed:)
mechtild at 2008-07-17 23:19 (UTC) (Link)
Not Alone, thanks so much for commenting. Angelo seems better today, but I know he's not going to be really happy if he has no cat friend. I've emailed a breeder recommended by the breeder from whom we got Pixie and her sons, Angelo and Friedrich. Hopefully we'll be able to get a kitten this fall. Angelo is only seven. If he doesn't get cancer *too*, he could have another lifetime of cat friendship with another cat or two. He's very affectionate, if high-strung.
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