The Girl with the Far-Away Eyes

>> Wednesday, May 23, 2007

If you haven’t met her before, this is Exene.

I found out yesterday that she’s going to die.

Of course, time is slowly killing all of us, but Squamous Cell Carcinoma is killing my cat. Facial cancer.

Why does it have to be her face, her loveliest feature? She has such beautiful, high cheekbones and a petite black nose; very feminine. Why does it have to be her face, making it painful to eat, and denying her the only pleasure we allow her to enjoy?

Why couldn’t the cancer invade her leg? Then we could cut it off and at least she could keep eating. My beautiful fat cat. My Big Girl. Why her face, making it too painful even to enjoy her favorites like Costco rotisserie chicken or tuna straight from the can?

We’ve denied her everything else she ever wanted or craved. We listened to vets and other pet-owners who convinced us that prison was better than death. We were told about the numerous pet diseases she could catch “out there”. Not to mention coyotes and cars and other cats.

We loved her, so we imprisoned her. But we were not right for her. She was always the girl with the "far-away eyes”.

Her spirit was always somewhere else. In her mind, she was off killing things, getting knocked up, having mangy kitty babies from multiple toms, getting into fights. That was the life she craved; meowed for; her nose always facing a door or window.

“But she lived a long and healthy life, free from disease or harm. If she’d been outdoors, she probably would have died a long time ago.”

Yes! She probably would have. But she would have lived first. She would have participated in glorious kitty life stuff.

She could have been “out there”, digging through trash cans and having crazy kitty sex. She tried to have sex with our neutered cat Klaus once. She taunted him, mewed and presented her petite black rump. He watched her for a long time, not sure what to do. Finally he arose, walked over to her, straddled her, grasped her soft neck with his teeth...and proceeded to fall asleep. All the while Exene waited beneath him in fevered anticipation of the brief and painful feline sex act.

Klaus only wanted us--not sex, not the outdoors, not even food. Although large, he only ate to satisfy his mild hunger. His wanderlust ended at the front door. His only urge was to sleep on my neck and wrestle with Meg (yes, that's a third cat). Our big scaredy cat, Klaus lived exactly the life he wanted to live. When he died, I mourned for myself. Now that Exene's days are numbered, I mourn for the life she never had.

And why did we have to go to Sea World last weekend and see that damned Pet Show; with cats running all around...climbing poles, walking across ropes, chasing other cats, jumping in and out of giant novelty cans of cat food? I could barely get through it. Sea World adopts most of it’s pets through animal shelters. Why couldn’t Sea World have adopted Exene? I imagine her life filled with the joy of finding cat treats atop poles and beams, running through obstacle courses with other animals, and being praised for her back flips.

She could do back flips, you know; when she was younger, before her hormones changed after we spayed her, causing her to become fat. She’d follow a birdy waved through the air and then suddenly -- whoosh! -- a back flip. She could do it again and again. She would have been great at Sea World.

But we found her before Sea World did. And we loved her and fed her. And we kept her inside, safe and warm, like nice responsible pet owners.


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