CW: This is going to be really long and involves pet death.
Five years ago we wanted a kitten, so we did what one does in our area when they want a kitten and went to Petsmart to see the shelter kitties on display.
We were looking for something sweet and cuddly but also playful.
What we got was…not that.
He was fluffy.
He was adorable.
And he drew blood within five minutes of meeting us.
It took a while for the full extent of things to be revealed, but our little murder kitten, Loki, was abused, either at the shelter or at his foster home. He’d been a bottle baby–and was terrified of hands.
That is not normal. Usually bottle babies are more attached to humans. Loki, however, would attack them on site.
He wouldn’t let the shelter employee touch him. In fact, he ran and hid behind us, total strangers, and would not let her come near him.
That’s how we knew we had to take him home.
We walked out of the pet store with fresh scratches up and down our arms and minor puncture wounds on our hands, and a determination to bring him home. We knew that he would be safe with us, but another household might be taken in by the cute face and would be upset when he didn’t become a loving lap cat. We worried that he would be mistreated, or returned to the shelter and eventually destroyed. We couldn’t let that happen.
That’s not to say the road was easy. There was a lot more blood shed on our end. He and Hermes seemed to get along pretty well. At least, they had an agreement to mutually ignore each other. Though occasionally I did catch them not actively hating each other.
Little did we know, he was just laying in wait.
It soon became evident that Loki liked yarn. In fact, he LOVED it. To the point that he stole a plush flamingo I’d crocheted and carried it around our apartment growling at anyone who tried to take it away. He tore it to shreds, but proceeded to carry around the decapitated head for weeks until we took it away.
Over the years countless socks, at least four sweaters, 2 tee shirts, a pair of afghans and I don’t even know what else fell victim. Once, he grabbed one of my flamingo slippers by the neck and ran away with it. It was as big as he was and Ash and I both chased him until we found his stash, hidden between her bed and the wall. That was where we found missing socks, sweaters, and blankets that appeared to have been attacked by a swarm of moths. It was, in fact, a single, extra large, extra fluffy wingless moth.
After that we took great pains to keep craft supplies away from him, but somehow he would always manage to pull a sock out of the slats in the laundry basket, or he’d find a spare glove that fell on the closet floor, or he’d be hidden away somewhere nibbling away on the corner of a blanket and we’d only find out later.
He’s the number one reason I began using project bags for my knitting. Nothing was safe if I left it out.
Once, I was crocheting a reticule for a friend. I had to pre-string about 500 seed beads before I could even get started on the bag. It took 3 days to string all the beads. I spent a Saturday morning crocheting the thread into the bottom of the bag. When I paused for lunch, Loki dashed through the living room at warp speed. I could see there was something in his mouth, but he was moving so fast I couldn’t tell what it was–until he dropped it in the litter box.
My project bag.
Without the project.
I had just enough time to register the danger my crochet was in before there was a snap and clatter and 500 seed beads went flying all over the apartment and Loki dashed off down the hall with the project clutched in his jaws.
He ran to his stash under Ash’s bed. She was still asleep, and the sound of me yelling at the cat as I unraveled the project in an effort to get it out of his mouth woke her.
He didn’t come out from under her bed for three hours. He knew I’d probably turn him into a muff if he showed his face.
It is through these episodes (and many others) that he got the nickname Experiment 626. Like Stitch, he seemed to get a great deal of joy out of excessive destruction.
While Ash was unemployed last year, I took in a bit of sewing to help make ends meet.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned.
A friend asked me to hem a knitted maxi dress for her. For those of you who don’t sew, knitted maxi dresses have a tendency to stretch, because the material of the full-length skirt is so heavy. It does’t help that the hemlines are usually made for someone about 7’6″, which is way, way too long for the average person.
I told her I wanted to hang it up to get out the excess stretch (for a more accurate hem), and that she should come back in a couple of days for me to mark the hem. I hung it up in a bathroom, one of the only rooms we could keep the cats out of easily.
Unfortunately, because it was a bathroom, that meant we still had to use it. And little Loki the ninja somehow got inside and hid in the folds of the dress when we weren’t looking.
He nibbled holes all along the original hemline, and chewed the sash in thirds (I don’t even know how he managed that).
Thankfully, my friend was able to laugh off the incident, and the damage could be repaired or camouflaged, and I didn’t have to buy a $215 dress.
Loki was a completely terror, but he was our terror. And lest you think his name was a self-fulfilling prophecy, we chose the god of chaos because of the trouble he caused from that very first day at the pet store.
Last Sunday morning started normally. Ash and I were watching television when we heard him yowl.
This wasn’t unusual. Loki was always very vocal, and many things upset him. The fact that his brother Bast exists. A current of air. The birds outside. The noises the neighbors make.
He let me pick him up, so I took him into the living room.
He didn’t run away.
He didn’t bite.
That was our first clue that something was wrong.
As the day wore on, it became clear that he was in pain, but we couldn’t tell from where. Eventually, we decided it must be one of his back legs. He spent a lot of time in the basement, so he could have landed wrong and hurt his leg.
But he didn’t eat. He didn’t drink. He continued to let us hold him for hours, though he never purred. He rejected his favorite treats.
Our worry grew, but it was still so undefined, we didn’t know what to do. It was Sunday. The vet was closed. An emergency vet would be more than we could afford, and while it was worrying, it still didn’t seem serious. We made a vet appointment for first thing the next morning while Googling potential pain relief options for him, none of which sounded good.
Ash took him to the vet first thing Monday morning, and I went to work. I was at lunch when I got the call.
Something was seriously wrong with Loki, and he needed emergency surgery. Expensive emergency surgery, that didn’t have a high chance of succeeding.
We raced back to the vet. Loki’s bladder was blocked. This is apparently a common problem in Maine Coons, one we were completely unaware of.
The vet could insert a catheter, which would work for the short term but might not be successful in the long term. He would then need a second surgery if it failed.
But worse, he was lethargic. He was fading fast. He might not make it through the first surgery to insert the catheter. We only had about an hour to decide–the length of time it would take his pain medication to kick in before the procedure.
We were able to hold him one last time. We told him we loved him, and how much we believed in him. We told him he would be all right, because Valhalla couldn’t handle him.
A few hours later, the vet called us. He’d made it through the surgery and was in recovery when he stopped breathing and they couldn’t resuscitate him. His kidneys were just too damaged. The Valkyries had come to take him away.
24 hours was all it took for a common problem to become lethal.
It was so sudden, it pulled the rug out from under us. We went home to Bast and Hermes, but it wasn’t the same. Our little murder kitten was gone.
That was last week. Last Monday. It’s been a week since we lost him.
I want to say thank you to everyone from Ravelry and Twitter who contributed to help cover his final expenses. The surgery was $1200 we didn’t have. We took out a care credit card to cover it, because he was always a fighter and we wanted him to have the best chance possible. Unfortunately, it was just too late.
There has been one good thing that came out of all of this, however.
Because of the abuse he suffered as a kitten, Loki never really warmed to other animals or people. He had a special bond with Ash, and he tolerated Hermes, but there was really only room in his heart for one human and one animal. We’ve talked about getting another cat several times over the years, but didn’t want to stress him further. Even a year on, he never did warm to Bast.
His passing was so sudden that we immediately felt the void. We knew we needed another cat, asap. If we didn’t get one right away, we’d never be ready.
This weekend, we couldn’t stand it anymore. We went to the shelter–a good shelter, the one where we got Bast–and chose a loving little black kitty, a year old. Her name is Lady Morrigan of the Void. She is still quite skittish and hiding a lot, but once she relaxes I will share pictures with you all. She’s sweet and charming, and Bast is utterly smitten with her. He keeps taking toys down to the basement to look for her. He desperately wants a new friend.
As do we all.
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