Allison's Book Bag

In Memory of Lucy

Posted on: January 14, 2014

Lucy_ArrivesIn the fall of 2006, a cat took residence in my bushes. The weeks that follow before I invited her inside are a blur. I don’t have notes, because I wasn’t seriously thinking of keeping her. My dad and I never had cats. My boyfriend (who later become my husband) had allergies. His mom even phoned me one night to warn me that taking in a cat could only bring harm. I recall checking with neighbors and local vets to see if anyone knew of a lost cat, being concerned about the impending cold weather, and letting her stay first in my shed, then in my enclosed back porch, and finally in my house. Even then, she was initially allowed access to only one room, to accommodate visits from Andy who not only had his allergies but also had a dog. And yet it was Andy who named her: no front claws equals clawless equals Lucy Clawless — in honor of Lucy Lawless, the star of the TV series Xena. The name stuck, and she became my Lucy. She came to me the year I was assigned to supervise our school time-out room. I needed a friend, and so there she was. A gift from God. My angel cat. The next eight years went too fast.

Lucy_BoxesPictures from Lucy’s first year reveal that she started out sharing a dish with Andy’s dog. Andy reminds me that despite my telling her that she could only stay if she got along with Barnaby, the two did have some confrontations. I don’t believe that was true of her and any of our guinea pigs, even if she did find all their smells enticing. Once in awhile, Lucy would pop into their area, sniff their stuff and them, but then just spring back out. Other pictures show that Lucy enjoyed countertops, desk ledges, bathroom sinks, and closets. These quirks never changed over the years, although as Lucy got older she took to seeking out the bathroom tub instead of the sink. She also loved boxes! The year Andy and I moved, and so I moved from Beatrice to Lincoln, I have tons of photos of her popping up from our moving boxes. Right now, beside the computer desk, is also a shoe box. For years, she would curl up in it. Eventually, she took over Barnaby’s bed, and the shoe box got relegated to a container for putting our pets into when it was time for them to be weighed.

Lucy_DanglerSomething that always made us curious was her age. One vet told us she might be one; another guessed ten. One clue that she might be older was her disinterest in toys. We bought her toy mice, plastic balls, a circle with a ball inside that she could chase, and even tried our dog’s laser light toy on her. Within a few days she grew tired of them all. The only ones that made any lasting impression were two fishing-pole style ones. Looking back over photos, I’m amazed at how tolerant she was. One of those ribbon-like danglers got draped over her, but she accepted it without protest. There are even photos of her wearing hats and looking silly. She seemed to most like string and our hands. Our brother-in-law got her interested in knotted string during his visits, but she didn’t seem to care for it when with anyone else. Because of her interest in playing with hands, I bought a glove with toys attached. After a few days, it seemed to creep her out. I guess Lucy preferred human contact.

Lucy_AgilityWhatever her age, jumping also had strong appeal to her. At my old place, she jumped onto the kitchen counters. For some reason, she discontinued that habit after I moved. Maybe Andy and I simply decided that it wasn’t overly hygienic to prepare foods where cats had trod. Closets and drawers were regularly jumping spots too. In our new place, some of the drawers were too high off the ground for even her. So, Lucy would stand by them and meow until I lifted her up into them. I always put a chair nearby to give her a soft landing on her jump down. We never ceased to be surprised at the places she found to jump. One day she jumped from our table to the top of our cabinets. To the best of my knowledge, she never did that again. I guess she surprised even herself. Because of her love of jumping, I started to teach her agility. She would agreeably jump from one chair to another, whether or not I put down treats. Then I got busy and we stopped and never returned to it—which I regret because she made me proud.

Lucy_OutsideLucy was an indoor cat, but one day we tried taking her into our fenced yard. She loved it. We had to block a few gaps in the fence, and once or twice she tried to jump the fence, but eventually she learned to stay put. It soon became partly of our daily routine to each lunch with all of the pets in the back yard. My husband persisted in encouraging her to chase squirrels, perhaps because Lucy acted so politely interested in them. She would hunker down in the tall grass, crawl towards a squirrel, and then watch it run off. If Lucy ever did try to pursue a squirrel, she started so early or so late that she never succeeded in getting anywhere near it. My husband told her she sucked, but Lucy didn’t seem to care. She also made up for it by eating dead birds and catching baby rabbits. (The birds we would throw away, and the baby rabbits we would rescue.) A few times we even brought her out on the front porch while we read. After a few times of correcting her for trying to sneak down the stairs, she learned to stay put. As much as she loved the outdoors, Lucy also appreciated the inside. When the cold winters hit, she would even turn her nose up at an open door.

Lucy_TowerEspecially as she grew older, we loved to spoil her. Of course, given that she didn’t like toys, coming up with gift ideas was sometimes hard. Because she liked to climb, we bought her a cat tower, one that reached all the way from the floor to the ceiling. It was next to a window and so offered many vantage points from which to look outside. She got to see baby birds being born in the nest in the nearby house, among other sights. In Lucy’s later years, she took to jumping from her tower to the TV cabinet to the Victrola to our plant shelves. That escapade is on video for posterity! Because she had to endure seeing us take the dogs for daily walks, we bought her a stroller. Although she’d grump when I put her in it, when I actually got the stroller outside she always perked up. Now she could see the world not just from a window or through a fence, but by being out and about our neighborhood. By 2011, Lucy was on an appetite stimulant. Meaning it was also tough to treat her to special foods. We shared chicken and other meat scraps with her whenever she’d eat them. This past spring, after a particularly difficult struggle to find enticing foods, she took to a bag of Purina cat food. So much so that she ripped a hole in it as soon as we brought it home. If only the moment could have lasted. Perhaps because of Lucy’s finicky ways, we should have found it less cute and more alarming when she began sampling less healthy foods such as our pizza and soft drinks. But we were just happy to have her eat.

I wish we could have figured out Lucy’s age, because maybe we would have acted quicker to her going downhill. Or maybe not, because she was our first cat. Meaning we were just inexperienced in what to expect. At any rate, after our summer vacation, Lucy started to sleep more, seek out warmer spots, and initiate less play. In many ways then, she was acting like a senior, but neither my husband or I felt any strong concern. These changes could happen to a cat of ten. Or fifteen. Or twenty. For this reason, we didn’t immediately change any of our habits. She developed an infection and got cured. Then started losing weight despite her appetite stimulant. Then gaining weight despite not eating food. Then she lost weight again. The fluctuations concerned us. Multiple tests were run. Numerous of times. Lucy was diagnosed as having heart and kidney issues, and the vet gave her a year to live, but neither completely explained her ill health. When Lucy stopped eating for two days straight, we got worried enough that we decided it was time for her to have a feeding tube. It should have helped.

Lucy_ClearyBut it didn’t. We became a regular fixture at the vet office. Finally, we had to leave Lucy with the vet for fluids and other treatments because of dehydration, a decision which caused us great struggle. If we were going to lose Lucy, we wanted her at home. But if the fluids would help, we would move heaven and hell for our girl. When the vet told us on December 19 that we could take her home, her blood was acidic but other tests were normal. The vet said we had a week. Pushing aside our grief, we determined to make the most of our short time left. And to hold onto hope. After all, other cats have bounced back.

My husband blew up an air mattress for me, so I could sleep next to Lucy who lacked strength to get up and down on our bed. I started spending extra time with her during the day, watching episodes of Xena with her (featuring her namesake) and picking out cat books to read to her. On December 20, for the first time since her decline, Lucy snuggled with me and held my fingers. I read the chapter book Socks by Beverly Cleary to her and instantly started another one. In my state of desperation, I hoped that as long as there were more shows and books for us to enjoy together, she would continue to live.

The morning of December 22, we lost our dear sweet Lucy. I knew that weekend that I would need to review Socks here on my blog. It’s now the book which Lucy and I shared. And maybe one day Lucy will become immortalized in a book of her own. For now, I’m writing this tribute, creating a Facebook album, and working on a scrapbook of her life. Her eight years with us went by too fast. And I look forward to the day that I’ll see her again on Rainbow Bridge.

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10 Responses to "In Memory of Lucy"

I came here via Tanya’s CKD pet loss group. This is a sweet and amazing tribute to Lucy Clawless. What a beautiful family you have, so much love. Thanks for all the great photos, she is a beautiful Calico House Blessing Cat!
Freckles Mom

Thank you reading my tribute to Lucy. Not a day goes by without my remembering her. She’s been the inspiration for all my current cat endeavors.

[…] In Memory of Lucy […]

This is a pingback. I approved it because Lincoln Animal Ambassadors is an organization for whom I blog. The group recently posted a new tribute I wrote about Lucy.

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful account of your sweet mysterious Lucy Clawless, I wish I could have met her too. I truly believe cats come to us for reasons unknown to us but often to look after us in some way and help us to know ourselves, little sentient beings living life on s different but compatible plane to our own.
Thank you Alison.

Thanks for reading my account of Lucy! She forever changed my life and I love for others to know about her.

A fascinating account of your life with Lucy, Allison. Best wishes with the Facebook album and the scrapbook. Hopefully Cinder will become as integral a part of your life as Lucy was.

Albums for Lucy and Cinder are now done. Next up is a scrapbook on Lucy! I’m already keeping a journal on Cinder. And then I’ll have to decide what kind of fictional project to undertake, a picture book or a chapter book, a funny book or a serious book. All kinds of decisions in the future!

What a sweet baby. So sorry for you loss. 😦

Thanks for your visit. Lucy will be forever missed.

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