Goodbye, Muriel

Once again, we are all a little more tired. Our lights are a little dimmer. We have taken time to grieve again, although when will we ever really stop? If you encounter any one of us from Sneer Campaign out on the street and see that we might look far away with a tear drop threatening from our eyes, know that we have lost another cat friend, and this sort of sorrow apparently accumulates.

There are so many stray cats around here, in Paradise. Of course we befriend all the ones we can. Every single one of our cats began as a stray, in fact. In 2019, over the summer, we saw one that was a very pretty color, but she was terrified! Cornered on the front porch once, a dot on the horizon of our yard, escaping out the back fence dozens of other times. She eventually realized that we weren’t there to harm her. I mean, this took probably more than six months. But once she ventured forward for one pet of the head, she stayed right here. Then we named her Muriel.

In the process of earning trust through regular kibble.

Muriel seemed to have had a really rough time. Only two teeth (and then only one), little gnarly front legs, a bit pigeon toed in the back so that she had a little bow-legged lope. She was thin and seemed very old. But she had great posture and seemed like an especially upright nine pound mountain lion.

Always around.

Extremely cuddly, if you sat, she was on your lap. If you lay down, she did too, on you. She would spend time giving kitty headbutts to you from every angle. She loved to be held and carried, and if you hugged her, she gave the best hugs back. She had very long cat arms and would cling to you and wrap her whole neck and head around your neck. She’d stay like that, sometimes. And she was always purring to have company and interactions.

We were determined that she needed to remain an outdoor cat, mostly because there were already six cats inside and you have to draw a line somewhere. But she had a very nice house on the back porch, three meals a day, and we went out there to visit her often. She would go into the side yard at times, but mostly she stayed in the back enjoying sunlight. And when it was cold over the winter of 2020 (it was mild in 2019), we would exchange her blankets up to three times a day with other blankets that were fresh out of the clothes dryer. She quickly learned to get in after the first blanket and wait purringly as the rest were piled in around her until she was a little warmed, happy cat face peeking out.

She had cat friends! And one cat enemy — the neighbor’s cat, Mocha. Mocha has an attitude problem — she even attacked me once to assert herself for no reason at all! Towards the end of Muriel’s time outside, though, maybe she had regained enough strength, I did see her chase Mocha off in a highly dramatic flurry of fur and yowls. Justice!

Other than that one problem-cat, she had other outdoor buds that she was mostly indifferent to. There was one, Frank “Fat Head Sadface” Wombles, who was the tragic case who had me renaming Sneer Headquarters to be the Sneer Campaign Home for Downtrodden Cats. He was more afraid of people than Muriel had ever been and had only just begun to let us pet him while he ate before he disappeared forever. We count him among our lost cats for the year sometimes, meaning that we lost five out of eight in fourteen months. We wish we could have helped you, sad pal.

After the deaths of the Captain and Jackson, and the acquisition of the new house — which Zesta moved into — we offered Muriel the chance to come inside. She took that chance, sauntering in like it was about time we relented. It was January 1, 2021, and it was a great way to start a new year!

I know I extol the virtues of every cat in these horribly frequent eulogies, but I feel there is good reason. They are all exceptional in their ways. Muriel, for instance, never seemed to take anything for granted. I gave her a little cat specific pillow. It was brand new! All hers. And she used it, wherever we put it. After she figured out it was hers, I found her lying on it under the dining room table, purring to herself until she saw me and got up to come over for a hug. She wasn’t finicky over food. She enjoyed every treat while she could still eat them. I don’t think she was ever cranky towards any of us for even a moment, even through all of the medicines and bath treatments.

She was shrewd, but she was also very trusting of us.

The week after Zesta died unexpectedly, Muriel looked at us with uneven pupils. According to the internet, that’s not so uncommon and can correct itself — also it was the eye that had been treated in February for a gooey sinus infection type situation. And it did correct itself after about a week! Except then it switched pupils that were dilated. She was also starting to get a cold again, so she went to the vet. Her bloodwork was generally fine, but they did an extra one for toxoplasmosis — in case she was having a weird reaction to it. That came back negative, so treatment began for hyperthyroidism, based on various reasons.

Muriel began to deteriorate pretty rapidly at that point, in mid-April. As a team, we gave her medicine, fed her, cleaned up her drool as her tongue was always out now, washed her face because she couldn’t eat right, gave her baths, blow-dried her, hugged her, wept into her fur, blow-dried her again. Through it all, she was an ideal patient.

The beginning of worsening.

After a few weeks, we had to take her back to see if the medicine would offer any hope, to see if anything was getting better and that her symptoms just seemed worse than they were. There was no hope to be had. Blind now, they confirmed what we had suspected — she was losing her senses! Going numb, I think, in her extremities. The vet ventured to guess, as it is not a common thing to happen, and the closest she knew of in her experiences was a kind of inoperable brain tumor. But it also seemed like the hyperthyroidism brought heart and possibly kidney problems with it, too.

What in the world happened so fast, Muriel?

We took Muriel home, made an appointment with Lap of Love and mourned in advance, now having to syringe high calorie food into her which did at least allow her to rest without hunger. Then, on Tuesday, May 18, we said goodbye to her during an in-home euthanasia service that was performed with professional care.

And so concluded the life of the nicest cat you would have ever met, if you had met her. And we sincerely hope that you do get to meet a cat like this in your lifetime, if any others exist.

Nicest to everyone except mice!

We had some great months together, but we hoped it was going to be years.

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