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616Money1stfotodec2017The beautiful Monet -- I thought we'd have her forever -- a sweet, living reminder at that "feral kittens" aren't always so feral and they don't always hiss at humans.
We never heard her hiss at us. During her treatment, though, on days when she was doing well, she'd hiss at the vet who was about to take her temp. Who wouldn't? Right?
 But then sweet Monet would purr, accept some loving petting and cuddling from the vet and get on with her day of trying to recuperate. [On the right, that’s my first photo of Monet in December 2017. She came to visit me as I 616Monetstretch2018was working in the front yard flowerbox. She was among the kittens born in the feral colony we tended to for nearly 20 years — we finally got every tabby fixed. You know how they can keep showing up. [Her stripes, vivid in that March 2018 photo on the left,  faded as she left kittenhood and were replaced by muted black and gray strips with yellow accents, like the flowers insinuated by Monet's brush in a scene of water lillies. Almost matched her eyes. It was just after that when Monet decided to come into the house -- I opened the front door and she walked in. No fear, no alarm. The dogs said, "Oh, ANOTHER cat?" The cats said, "Here's the food, let's take a nap."]

Bless those folks at Bridge Street Clinic for taking care of our girl as she faced what became a really challenging situation. And, you know, they nursed us along, too. Very comforting as we all endured this mystery illness.
I'd have written this tribute a lot sooner but it was the surprise ending that knocked me over. Never happened before like this. Fate is mean. Our cats always make it well into their teens and one 616Monettmarch23018-- Cyril, a tuxedo fellow Martha got before we married, was a documentable 26, having begun life in Lampasas in the 20th Century.

My rescuespouse Martha and I were with Monet at the end, both petting her gently as the relief from pain arrived via a silver needle. This time "euthanasia" lived up to its name, saving our girl from needless suffering. Monet had been at the vet's for several days this time -- her second extended visit.
She was only a little over 4 years old. We've never lost a cat that young. [Our cats always make it well into their teens and one -- Cyril, a tuxedo fellow Martha got before we married, was a documentable 26, having begun life in Lampasas in the 20th Century.]
Monet's challenge began this way: There was evidence that she'd been -- when no humans were around -- eating thread from Martha's sewing room. We took her to the vet. Tests were run, behavior monitored, medicines applied. She seemed to rebound with acceptable "movements" and a return of appetite. Her "labs" were good. 616Monetbc2017And, after several  days we brought her home where she gave us firm signs of the "ol' Monet" returning.
But suddenly she was not herself. Not interested in being with anyone. We immediately took her to the vet. This time, she underwent abdominal surgery to clear out the intestines and look for unexpected damages (none found) -- she'd continued eating things she shouldn't eat.
Post-surgery, there was evidence that she was perking up. 
She always had an uplifting personality. As you can see from her photos, she might have some Tabby tendencies. But her eyes, in the right light, are golden. And her coat is an accumulation of artistic brushwork -- as if the namesake artist had said from Above, "Hey, St. Pete 'n' Y'all,.." [I like to think Monet could have been a Texan] ... "Let me take the brush to the coat on this one -- people will admire her beauty." And we did admire it.

She shared Martha's office with another former feral, Esme, who has been in the family for maybe 10 years. They got along -- today, you'll catch Esme looking toward Monet's old sleeping spots as if she's trying to find her friend.
616Monettthepenisusal20191I know how she feels. I still see the shadow of my Cocker Spaniel Inky in dark rooms and I'll check before I sit in an easy chair to make sure the big spirit of my Great Dane/Lab mix Hammy hasn't claimed it first. But Monet, well, missing her is different. [That's her on the right, greeting the household insomniac at about 3 a.m. with a reminder that cat treats are served at all hours!]
She was steady. She had a special joy at being picked up and cuddled. She didn't complain when I turned her over and rubbed her tummy. She simply looked up with those fantastic eyes and knew she was going to get extra treats and a hug.

If a human was in the kitchen, Monet's place was on the "peninsula" dividing the cooking area from the breakfast nook.

We thought she was going to make it. But, suddenly, she was hiding under chairs and couches and in bathroom closets. She quit meowing for treats. She'd get her 616Monettthegang2019food, pull out some with a paw and nibble the bits off her toes. But that was it. She wouldn’t eat.
Surgery had cleared out obstructions and during post-op-recovery she seemed to head toward being the "Old Monet" but it was a brief illusion.
As it turned out, our beautiful little girl was the victim of an ugly ailment -- some kind of lymphoma. She'd been responding to pain and misery by eating things she should not eat.
[In that group shot, you see Monet at her station on the kitchen peninsula, in the upper left corner, the young boy Simon, then the big guy Texas Earl the Cheeseman (our Rottie), drinking water is Wendy and sitting  below Monet on the floor is her roommate, Esme. I'm so glad we have this image of these pals in one photo.]

On June 5, Martha and I were with her, holding her and petting her and talking to her as the "medicine" did its business. Her magnificent purr was powered by despair and, we could see, 616Monettthepenisusal2019appreciation that familiar hands were holding her. Maybe we gave her some comfort; maybe she trusted us to help her.

Yeah, you had two tearful people saying goodbye to a beautiful cat who was everything you'd expect from a feline companion -- purrs, happy greetings, comforting moments — a serene presence as you read a book or watched TV or marveled at nature’s miraculous souls. [That's Monet during an insomnia session in the 2019 Christmas season -- wide awake in caseI needed to rub the tummy of a kittycat.]

A week later, I went back to the clinic to get her ashes. The beautiful box -- one of many we have -- came in a white paper 616Monetbox1bag with handles. I put it on the car seat next to me and drove toward home. At the first red light I thought, "Better check and make sure the name is spelled right." 
I pulled the bag open and looked in to see the wooden box with the silver inscription "Monet" and I had to pull over until I 616Money1stfotodec2017could see well enough to drive. That little cat with the fabulous coat and the beautiful eyes and the gentle heart was still with me.
 We simply did not expect to lose that girl when she was so very young. And I wanted to post that beautiful kitten's photo one more time as we address the purpose of her life.
Maybe Monet's life -- from unwanted feral colony kitten to beloved housecat -- will remind people to give these little beings a place in their hearts. 
For the benefit of mankind, learning to be loving to all species is a good thing.
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