A cat called Kasha

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We could have missed out on sharing Kasha’s life. We’d always kept 2 cats, partly because they were great company for each other and partly because it was a joy to watch their interactions. So when Aleysha (an exquisite grey tabby Oriental) died on the road on 31 August 1997 (the day Princess Diana died), Dipity needed a new companion. She cried so much, we knew we had to find one quickly. A friend, who was a vet, asked if we’d like to adopt a young female Burmese, who was lost. We readily agreed, and she was brought to the house to meet Dipity.

Dipity was a tiny, gutsy Siamese, once described by her doting vet as “like fine porcelain” This was after he’d stayed up all night putting drops in her eye which had been clawed by a possum. She enchanted him so much that, when she refused the cat food offered, he went to a nearby chicken bar and bought her roast chicken!

The Burmese and Dipity rubbed noses, and there seemed to be no animosity. This was a surprise, because Dipity didn’t usually like ‘new’ cats. I sat on a bed with the newcomer, and she immediately jumped on my lap, snuggled her nose into my elbow and gave me a kiss. Thus I called her ‘Baci’, which in Italian means ‘kisses’.

We don’t know how she did it, but somehow Baci escaped from the house. We searched the neighbourhood, to no avail. To our distress, my husband found her on his morning walk the next day, dead by the side of a busy road. I suppose she was trying to find her way home, wherever that might have been. I felt sadder than I would have anticipated for a cat I’d known only one day. We buried her in our small rainforest garden.

So Dipity still had no companion.

Our son had a yen to have a Tonkinese, a breed he said had lovely personalities. All our previous cats had some Siamese in them, so we were happy to comply.

Enter Kasha. We bought her from a breeder of Tonkinese cats quite a distance from where we lived at the time. We put her into a carrying case, but once the car started she yelled so loudly that I decided to take her out and wrapped her in a rug on my lap. She climbed up to my chest and gazed up at me adoringly … this was to become her favourite position whenever she needed comfort.

The first evening, we thought we’d lost her too! Again we searched the neighbourhood and put posters up on posts. The following morning we found her in a drawer in my husband’s office!

Dipity did not accept her at first. In fact, for about 6 weeks she was quite antagonistic (as she had been with Aleysha in the beginning), but after that she adopted the role of obsessive foster mother. The two of them were always together, even when they went walkabout.

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I suppose you could say Kasha had an ‘eventful’ life. She was allowed to be an ‘outside’ cat, but seemed to stay fairly close to our house. One evening she didn’t come home. Again we put posters around the neighbourhood, and after a couple of days received a phone call from a young man who told us he and his father had found her in the middle of the same busy road where Baci had been killed. They stopped the traffic and rescued her, then took her to a 24-hr animal hospital. When we arrived, the vet told me they usually euthanase injured animals after two days if nobody has claimed them, but when Kasha looked at him with her big blue eyes he just had to wait a bit longer.

She had a broken hip and damaged kidney. We took her to our usual vet, who was able to repair the hip, but could not save the kidney. It was predicted her life would probably be shortened as a result … but she lived nearly 17 years!

Dipity died when Kasha was 4 years old. Shortly afterwards we acquired Paddington, a Siamese-Birman cross, also 4 years old. You can read his story here: https://melisanda.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/in-memory-of-paddington/

After Paddington died we decided not to get another cat. As Paddington had not been a cuddle-cat, Kasha had become more indpendent, as well as inserting herself more into her people’s lives. With Paddington gone, I have to say she became more demanding and more vocal about it. At first this was annoying, but gradually we realised she wasn’t just complaining, she was ‘communicating’ This became more obvious when we moved from Brisbane to our present home at Woody Point.

One day my husband, son and I all went out together, leaving Kasha alone for the first time since the move. We were gone most of the day. When we returned she met us on the front path. Her body language accusing, and she ‘dressed us down’ in no uncertain terms. This went on for so long that the 3 of us burst out laughing. She didn’t like that, so of course we had to console her.

She didn’t just talk to us either. On a walk one day, we came across her sitting inside a neighbour’s property. At first we didn’t see her but a magpie was on the fence and we spoke to it. To our amazement Kasha appeared and answered. She and the magpie then carried on a conversation. Later we heard her doing the same with other birds in our garden. She never threatened them, nor they her. We came to realise that our ‘nuisance cat’ was highly intelligent.

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I could go on with Kasha stories, but this is a blog post, not a book.

During 2013, the broken hip began to affect her. At first it was just sensitive, then she started having spasms, which grew worse as the year went on. One morning we found she could barely walk … dragging her right hind leg, while the right front paw bent under. We took her to the vet with heavy hearts, thinking he would recommend putting her to sleep. He didn’t. He watched her ‘walking’ and said, “She’s going to learn to manage that”.  She was otherwise in good condition.

She improved every day and very soon was able to walk with just a wobble. It was inspirational to watch her as she practised different ways of doing everything she used to be able to do … or, if she couldn’t, asking for our help. She was no longer able to do a standing jump, which made getting onto my lap difficult. She compensated this by gathering her resources and doing a running leap. This continued for about 6 months, then she started to weaken. The day came when the running leap failed and she crashed to the floor. She was devastated. I picked her up and comforted her, but she sank miserably on my lap, and it seemed afterwards that her spirit was broken.

We knew the end was coming. To my great sadness she died (naturally) when I was in hospital. My son sat with her on his lap for 3 hours and stroked her till she took her last breath.

There’ll never be another cat like Kasha. But then, one thing we’ve learned is that all cats are different, just as, I suppose, all animals are different.

Farewell, little Kasha. I hope you meet Paddington and Dipity again in cat heaven.

 

Tastes of Life

The CAN Company’s achievement in 2013 was little short of miraculous. Despite 2 of the 4 members being overseas for several months, and my ongoing health challenges, we managed to compile a book and calendar on the theme Tastes of Life, and stage a fabulous launch on 10 November. I say ‘fabulous’ because the feedback was fabulous.

It all started when I made the comment that, as a result of the side-effect of the medication I was taking, I had lost, not only my appetite for food, but my appetite for life as well. Lyn suggested that we explore what makes individual taste ‘tick’. For food, we have taste buds. Do we have the equivalent of taste buds for other areas of our lives—music, clothes, art, movies, literature, humour, people? Why do different people have different tastes? Do our tastes change over a lifetime? Do we gravitate towards people who share our tastes?

A fascinating topic, though I’m not sure we found any answers. Another of life’s mysteries.

My personal challenge became one of tempting my appetite back into life by offering myself choice titbits in all these areas.

We chose an art deco visual theme for the book and launch, simply because Lyn expressed a liking for a particular font to use for the titles. Being a designer, I declared that the book’s design would need to be in accord. We extended this theme to the clothing we wore to the launch—which delighted the audience.

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About 60 friends and relations attended the launch and they appeared to enjoy themselves immensely, especially the ‘performance’ part of the event. At our launches we always sing a selection of songs which echo the theme of the book. In this case our selection ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime:

We’re Happy Little Vegemites  and I Like Aeroplane Jelly (to honour weird Aussie tastes)
Rum by Gum (anon?)
Bottle o’ Wine (Tom Paxton)
The Aussie Barbecue Song (more weird Aussie tastes) (Eric Bogle)
The Honor of Your Company (Tom Paxton) … not on ‘taste’ but a tribute to all the people who have shared our journey with us.

The audience listened with wrapt attention or joined in with gusto as appropriate.

Books and calendars sold well, along with a selection of ‘taste’ cards and other gift items. With the proceeds we were able to treat ourselves to a splendid Christmas lunch, while having enough over in ‘kitty’ to buy equipment, books etc. throughout the coming year.

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The CAN Company itself is one of life’s miracles. In December 2014 we will celebrate our 20th anniversary. Since December 1994 we have been meeting at least once a month. Although we are all very different, and not slow to express our views, we have never had a serious disagreement. While I am considered the ‘leader’ the group operates by consensus. When there is work to be done, everyone pitches in without any need for direction.

In 2014 we will adopt a retrospective approach … details to be decided.

Bringing 2013 to a close

My very wise GP keeps encouraging me to live in the ‘timeless zone’ which means, in the present moment. I have a bit of a problem with ‘present moment’ though, because as soon as you even say the words that present moment has gone into the past. You can’t grasp hold of it. So the way I handle it is to imagine myself hovering above my timeline, where everything—past, present and future—exists simultaneously. I can then look forward and back at will, while acknowledging that any action can only be taken right now.

Writing this blog seems, from that higher vantage point, to need an account of some stuff from 2013 (in timezone speak) for the sake of completion … to make way for what is to come.

The year was probably my most challenging to date, with ongoing health problems, the deaths of 6 people who had played a significant part in my life (only one of whom I expected to die before me), continuing financial issues, and the death of our precious, nearly-17-year-old cat Kasha.

Firstly the health issues

Although an MRI scan earlier in the year indicated my brain tumour had gone completely, another scan six months later showed three new ones, in inaccessible places. At the moment they’re very small and unlikely to cause problems in the near future. About the same time, it was discovered I had fluid in the pleural cavity around the left lung. Two drainage sessions later it was also found there was cancer in the pleural cavity. A number of small nodules, apparently. My doctor recommended pleurodesis (look it up if you want to know what that means). I expected this to be painful during the procedure and afterwards. Not so (you can’t believe everything you read or are told). A month later, I’m still suffering no after-effects.

It was while I was in hospital for the above procedures that my cat died … the day before I was supposed to go home. However, by this time it was the weekend and the relief doctor didn’t feel she had the authority to discharge me. In the end I threw a tantrum and discharged myself, after signing the appropriate form. I felt good taking charge of my own welfare. Intuitively, I knew I was in no immediate danger and that I’d be better off at home. In the hospital I was bored silly, couldn’t eat the awful hospital food, and I really really needed private space to grieve for my cat.

In summary, on paper I’m in really bad shape, but in the ‘present moment’ I feel fine, my only ‘symptom’ being intermittent fatigue, which is probably largely caused by the medication I’m on.  Fortunately I’ve found some effective ways of counteracting that.

I would have said 2013 was my worst year ever, except that there were a number of good things too, one of which was the launch of Tastes of Life, The CAN Company’s latest book. But I’ll talk about that in my next post.