Thursday, January 21, 2010


There is a cat named Zoe who lives with us. It's like living with a fluffy bundle of love. Fourteen years ago, she was a barn kitten in a place my daughter used to ride. The farmer went down to the barn, threw a towel over the kittens, caught her, brought her to us and we went home with her. She was a barn cat, although there was definitely some Siamese in there somewhere.
She spent the first few years of her life loving us and avoiding strangers. A few years ago she went away with a friend who fell in love with her and was loved in return and it seemed cruel to part them. When the friend (Olga, former webelf) became a travelling gypsy-girl Zoe came back to us, theoretically waiting until Olga had a permanent place or country again. Zoe's lived in the attic for a while. About eighteen months ago I realised that she was completely blind. People go up to the attic, or sleep in the bedroom she lives in, and they love her, and she loves them back.
She lives in the turret, wary of the Great Rambunctious Dog that lives downstairs but can't get through the cat door (much to his dismay). She spends most of her days on a bed, resting comfortably. But when a person comes into the room she lifts her head into the air and makes noise "mewp! mewp!" as if to say "I'm here! I know you can't see me, so I shall make this noise to guide you!" And when you scratch her head she appreciates it like no other cat. And when you leave, she makes the noise again, lifting her head as though to say "foul winds have blown you from me! you are lost! I shall make this noise so that you can find me again!" -- and, of course, you can't leave, so you go back and pet her again and again. "I used to try and write in the turret," Neil told me, "but the only thing that would happen was that I'd pet Zoe all day." This is not in, and of itself, a bad thing but it interrupts the Great Works of Literature. Whenever there was down time (when I wasn't out photographing some author or eating dinner or looking at the bees) I would say "I'm going upstairs to pet Zoe," and Neil would smile and say "that sound like a lovely thing to do. She would like that very much."
She's been throwing up a lot this week, so we took her to the vet. They found a mass inside her, blocking off the pathway between her mouth and her stomach. No food or water was getting in. Last night we took her to the U of M veterinary hospital, where they investigated further.
The news is as bad as it could be. It's a tumour, it's huge, it's malignant, it's rare, it's extremely fast-growing. There's only been one case where they even tried operating on a cat to remove it, and the cat died the next day.
I want her to come home from the hospital, and die peacefully among people who love her.
Two cats died last year - Pod and Hermione - but they were eighteen, and so old it was a mercy of sorts, and was expected. I was sad, but their deaths just felt like the final page had turned. This one hurts.
I was going to write a long blogpost today about how I was quoted as saying I "wasn't anyone's bitch" in the New Yorker (something that I don't remember saying, because it's not the kind of thing that I'd say, unless we'd just been talking about the Entitlement Issues blogpost) and how yesterday I was deluged with FAQ emails (and a handful of Twitters) explaining, with varying degrees of civility (which I appreciated) or incivility, that having used that phrase undid all the good I'd ever done by writing positive women, supporting RAINN etc, because it showed that I was minimising the horror of rape and revealing my underlying misogyny (I think it started here); and I apologised a few times on Twitter and in the New Yorker chat; and how this morning's FAQ email has been filled with people saying "Look, I'm a feminist and I have to tell you I'm really disappointed in you for giving credibility to those people from yesterday who are trivializing very real issues..."; and how I'm rapidly moving into "a plague on all your houses" mode; but honestly right now, I haven't the heart, and probably it's only getting to me because I'm actually really worried and upset about a very small cat. So I think it's better that the blog goes unwritten, and if you have strong opinions on the matter you should post them on your own blogs, and, for the time being at least, leave this one alone.