On My Way Home at

LUNCHTIME I STOPPED in at The Clinic to pick up the new litter boxes from Toni.

New litterboxes.

You see, what was killing Rommie is highly infectious. It’s universally advised for any mutli-cat environment, that, once the source of possible infection has been removed, the environment needs to be disinfected as indicated by the circumstances. Since the most common way a carrier “sheds” virus is in feces, litter boxes need to be disinfected. We decided — well, Toni did and I concurred — that, litter boxes being plastic and subject to being raked by cat claws regularly, their surfaces would provide a magnificent medium for eager-beaver little viri. So we decided to replace all three boxes.

Anyway, we went to PetSmart on Sunday and bought a palletful of new litter boxes. Yeah, I know: possibly jumping the gun. But it was either that or go after work at the end of a long day… today. Tuesday, so we decided to take the risk that Rommie would recover and we’ve have bokoo extra litter boxes. And then we went to Sams and bought three 40-pound cans of litter.

As an aside, have you priced litter boxes lately? I don’t mean the single-cat, single-use, biodegradable pressed-paper ones you can get for a nickel, ninety-eight. I mean substantial boxes in which an 8-12-pound cat can feel comfortable squatting to take a dump. And bury it. With lids to at least make a token effort at containing the odor. Yeah.

By Tuesday, the litter was in the study, but the boxes were still in Toni’s car. So I stopped in to pick them up because I’d be home before her and could get started on switching the old boxes out and putting new ones in.

As I was walking down the front steps of The Clinic toward her car, Toni asked me, “How you holding up?”

I answered — totally off-the-cuff, going with the moment — “Just fine, so long as I don’t think about it.”

Yeah. I buried the lede.

We put Rommie to sleep this morning.

Odd dichotomy. Yes. She was terminal. Hard to take because she seemed to be improving a bit from the palliatives. The steroids talking, as Toni put it. And it feels like I’ve lost a limb or something. But, at the same time, you tell yourself, “You knew this when you went in.” You know when you adopt a cat — or she you — that it’s not forever, that you’ll outlive her by possibly another of her lifetimes, and you’ll know and love myriad others, and she as an individual will fade into the background of your life, giving way to those present in the moment. Yes, it was a mercy. But if you believe in life, finding the line between mercy and selfishness is not easy. Rommie was hiding under the bed in her last days — the old tale of the animal going away to die in covert solitude. So I don’t think she was raging to live. Monday night, when she was snuggling on my chest, she wasn’t purring. She was barely reacting to my attentions. So, when the lab reports confirmed what had been suspected all along, it was clearly time.

But still hard.

Rommie and Siamon as kittens, catnapping on the recliner.

It’s been a hard year — so much loss. The most recent three… Siamon, Murphy, and Rommie.

Do you think the winds in heaven carry such interesting scents?

Or will the birds provide such fascinating prospects of the hunt?

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