She’d been a constant in my life for the past 19 years. When I first moved to Philadelphia, I was ready to get a new pet so my friend Erin and I hopped in her car and drove to Delaware to look for a bunny sanctuary. We couldn’t find it (this was in the days before you could use your phone for GPS navigation). So we drove back to her place and she introduced me to a 4 week old cat she had recently taken in… and which she said she wouldn’t have time to care for due to a promotion she’d just gotten at work.
So instead of a bunny, I wound up going home with a cat. The tiny little thing made herself at home right away, jumping up onto my bed and then crawling onto my chest as I laid down to sleep that first night. I remember thinking “she could just dig her claws into me or bite my in my sleep and there’d be nothing I could do to stop her.” She didn’t. I guess she realized I wouldn’t have fed her in the morning if she killed me. Trust was established.
Laney taught me how to be responsible for another living being… and she kept me company during grad school and the start of my professional life as I lived alone in my West Philly apartment.
She was an attention seeker. I couldn’t crack open a book without Laney jumping up on my lap and nudging it with her head until I made room for her. And she would platy fetch: I’d toss a toy across the room and Laney would run after it, pick it up, and bring it… halfway back. Then she’d expect me to get up, walk across the room, pick it up and throw it again so she could fetch it and bring it halfway back again.
When Farrah came into my life, I was worried that Laney’s habit of chewing on her hair would drive her away. But Farrah quickly adopted Laney as her own and my cat became our cat. She was mine for 4 years and ours for 15 more.
Laney moved with us to Princeton, New York, and back to Philadelphia. She jumped on top of refrigerators and into cardboard boxes. She hung out in windowsills. She hated to be picked up and loved to have her cheeks scratched. She was our kitty.
A few years ago Laney had a stroke or some sort of episode. She wasn’t able to run or jump anymore after that, and her legs started to wobble as she walked. Sometimes she’d stumble and fall, but she’d always get back up and keep moving as if nothing happened.
She never really got along with Puck and Ollie. She was here first, and when they came home with us in 2010, she wanted to make sure they knew it. But as she got older, she couldn’t really convince them that she wasn’t worth tussling with, so we moved her into our bedroom so she could have a place of her own.
That’s where she lived from 2015 through 2018. Since she couldn’t jump onto the bed or armchair anymore we got her a set of stairs so she could come and go. But we think she developed arthritis, and even climbing the stairs got more difficult… although that didn’t stop her from doing it.
At the end of June we woke one morning to the sound of Laney screaming in pain and moving her head in an unusual way. We rushed her to the vet and discovered that her jaw had fractured. She’d long had dental issues, but because of kidney problems we had been advised not to have her sedated for dental procedures. Unfortunately, it seems liker her dental disease might have led to the jaw fracture. Or it might have been something else. It’s not really clear.
We were worried that this would be it. But after a few days in the animal hospital she actually started to show some signs of recovery. We brought her home and fed her a steady diet of painkillers, antibiotics, and medications for nausea and kidney function, among other things. Her jaw was permanently stuck open, making her tongue stick out a bit. But she actually seemed more comfortable than she had in a while, and her appetite seemed to come back.
For a while.
Then she started having difficulty moving her jaw, eating, or drinking water. She stopped eating, stopped showing as much energy, and we realized that things weren’t going to get better. Rather than watch her suffer any more, we made an appointment. If she didn’t show significant improvement within a few days, we’d take her to the vet to put her to sleep.
It was time. It was the right thing to do. She lived a good life. But I miss her every day and I probably will for many years to come.