Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
In previous stories about Shadow, I wrote about getting her from a friend when she was 4 years old, how we traveled by car to South Carolina and two years later drove back to Washington State.
About two years after returning home, Shadow was taking a nap on her ladder on a Saturday evening, woke and when coming down, fell, hurting her leg. My neighbors and I took her to an emergency animal hospital, where they said her leg was broken and I could pick her up the following day. However, the doctor called me the next morning, saying it was not a simple break and Shadow’s back right leg would have to be amputated. I was devastated but Shadow was brave and courageous. She came home after three days and was supposed to “REST” for about two weeks and NOT jump.
I converted the bathroom into the “Shadow” room, putting a blanket in a large basket as her bed. There was room for her food and water dishes, litter pan, and a place for me on the floor, where I could sit and read and talk to her.
However, after two days, Shadow figured out how to open the bathroom door. She very cleverly put her paw under the door and somehow managed to open it. As that bathroom was next to my bedroom, I had to quickly think of something else. I did not want Shadow in the bedroom for a while, as my bed is quite high.
I went to the hardware store and bought several foot stools, to put in front of the couch and chairs. That worked! I closed the bedroom doors during the day, while I was at work and Shadow stayed in the living room. I put her food in the living room and kitchen.
So much for two weeks of “REST” as Shadow wanted to walk and be active. Very quickly, she was running. I marveled at her tenacity, strength and perseverance. At night, for about four months, we slept in the 2nd bedroom on a sleeping bag and futon mattress.
Afterward, I bought stairs for the bed. While she would use the stairs to get onto the bed, she would jump down when she thought I was not looking.
During this time, I became quite ill with shingles. I was able to work from home which gave me time to spend with Shadow. I told her that her courage inspired me.
Shadow developed infections and several times I had to give her medication. When it was liquid, there was more of it on her and me than in her. When it was a pill, it was hysterical. She pretended to swallow it and later I would find it on the floor or even stuck in her fur. She found many new hiding places when she knew it was time for her medicine.
But within the year, Shadow became quite sick and this time I was not able to take her home from the vet. I said my tearful good-bye as I held her and thanked her for the joy that she had brought me.
When I got home and tearfully told a neighbor, she brought me flowers and I set up a little memorial for Shadow with photos, flowers and a black cat statue. My neighbors and I drank champagne and toasted Shadow and told stories of our terrific memories of her.
While each cat is unique, some are a bit more exceptional and Shadow will always remain a very special cat. She drove cross country with me, twice … adjusted to the chaos of moving … and adapted very quickly to being a tripod and always remained a sweet, petite cat. I put together a photo book (using Shutterfly), “Shadow, My Journal” and gave copies to my friend who had given me Shadow and to my neighbors. Yes, cats do leave paw prints on our hearts.
Let me share a few favorite photos of Shadow: