(1998? – 2013)
I hate today. I hate today almost as much as I hated yesterday and as much as the day after we had to put our Sheltie, Heidi, to sleep. I was 16 at the time and we’d had Heidi since I was 3. I knew her pretty much as long as I knew anything. That was the first animal we had to put to sleep. Heidi's pup, Winkie, was hit by a car while I was at school one day and that event, while horrifying to 9-year old me, was somehow different than when we had to consciously make the decision to put Heidi down.
Layla came into my life in May 2000. I didn’t want a cat and I certainly wasn’t looking for a cat, but the guy I was seeing at the time insisted we get one. I must have been jet-lagged or something after my trip to Japan because I resisted a bit, but then I found myself with a cat two days later. The guy didn’t offer to pay for any of the fees to the pet rescue or for any of the things that you need to go with your cat and, well, that pretty much summed up our relationship pretty well.
Anyhow, she was spotted at the Petsmart at Great Northern Plaza one sunny afternoon. She seemed pretty friendly and was perfectly adorable, so she was chosen. I felt a little guilty about separating her from her “sister”, but there could only be one. Incidentally, they didn’t look much alike since Layla was grey and long-haired and her alleged sister was a black and white short-haired cat. All the paperwork was finalised; her age was estimated to be two-and-a-half years and her name was “Lala”. Lala? Well, that just wasn’t going to do, so I stuck a Y in the name as if it mattered to her—or to any of us. Over the years she was rarely called Layla, but more often than not called “Princess”, “Kitty Paws”, “Kitty Pants”, “Soft Kitty”, “Kit-Ten” or “Poopy-head”, among other fine names.
I brought her home in the large dog carrier that I took her to the vet in last night. I only lived on one floor of the house at the time, so I closed the bedrooms and allowed her to explore the rooms that had wood or tile floors. She immediately skulked off to the bathroom and hid under the claw-foot bathtub. After a while, she came out and started to explore her new home. I showed her where her litter box was and she took to it like a pro. She was going to fit in just fine!
Layla saw me through a change in jobs the following autumn and then through the break-up with the guy I was seeing; the one who wanted her in the first place. She, like me, was abandoned again.
It wasn’t long after, just a few months—that I started to date Lou. Lou was not a cat person and later revealed that he thought that was a deal-breaker. It was only a deal-breaker until he bonded with her sort of sweet, but aloof personality. She won him over, as did I apparently. TEAMWORK!
Layla was a gentle cat. She had all of her claws, but she never used them on anyone or any object. She never jumped on the counters. Well, there was one time she got on the dining room table and we shouted a stern “off!” and pointed down. That never happened again. She never knocked anything off the Christmas tree or any shelves and Lord knows we have plenty of things on shelves! She would wander into Warehouse 1138 from time to time to just sit and look at the toys that were at kitty level and never touched a single one. After each visit, she would curl into a ball and fall asleep between the toy box my parents made me when I was baby and the display in the centre of the room. She constantly amazed me. If I wanted her to go up the stairs, I could just say “go upstairs”, sweep my finger in that direction a couple times and she would go.
So, I took her to the vet last night and explained everything to the physician. Lou was just getting out of work and, should he not be able to make it, I wanted to have someone there with me. I called our friend, Penny, because she’s solid and I knew she would provide the support I needed to get through the visit. The vet said that we brought her in at the right time and didn’t make the mistake of waiting too long and then began the procedure after Lou showed up. She administered the sedative and we stroked Layla, gave her kisses on her tiny head and whispered to her as she fell asleep and her tail stopped moving. We left before the administered the second dose because we knew we couldn’t deal with the finality of that.
I’ll probably never have another kitty cat quite like her. She set the bar really high. I was lucky and I hope she had a happy life with me. I miss her so much.
“It’s OK, baby… daddy will see you soon.”