by Kimberley Koz
When a loved one passes away, be they human or pet, a part of my heart goes with them, and I am never the same. This year, 2012, I lost Nicholas in February and Cookie in November, both to mold-related respiratory infections.
The honest truth is, with Cookie’s passing I feel relief, both for him and for me. Seeing him suffer, yet clinging to hope that he would be well again took a lot out of me. What he endured, beyond what dear Nick went through, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Think about having the worst cold ever… Think about having it for over ten months.
Throughout this year Herman and I mentioned Cookie receiving pills and allergy shots to combat this awful infection, but I never posted photos of what he went through because…it was gross. His nose oozed constantly, with thick mucus running when he lowered his head. He often crouched on a little stool by the window, warming himself, oozing all over the sill.
He would sneeze and spray throughout the day, resting only when my husband Ray came home and would lie on the living room floor to watch television. I swear Ray was a German shepherd in a past life...he rarely sits on furniture.
Cookie had a dog-like devotion to Ray and every night would lie in the crook of his arm and sleep. He slept with utter peace, so deep that his suffering for the moment was lightened. We could barely hear him breathe.
On Sunday, November 4th, I woke to find Cookie’s eyes looking weird. Turns out the pressure from inside his head had pushed his third eyelids out of whack. Our wonderful vet, Dr. Brandy Ellis, said his face was swollen and tender. The prednisolone and the allergy shots were not helping. He was not going to get better.
I took Cookie home to spend one last night in the crook of Ray’s arm, and then the following day we said goodbye…for now.
I want to remember Cookie for the quirky little cat he was. Ray and I moved to Richmond, Kentucky in 1999 and on our 5 acres lived a scrawny Tuxedo cat that had few social skills.
|Cookie patrols Kentucky property|
He clearly wanted to be accepted and yet he had no clue on how to make friends. I brought with me from Florida a couple polydactyl tabbies - Moose and Logan - who had a father/son relationship--but were actually half-brothers (their mother Angel was a feral bimbo; sorry but she would have her fun, and then dump her babies in my yard for me to care for. But that’s another story.)
Anyway! Moose had already formed a negative opinion about another cat on our property: Nicholas.
Nick was aggressive and angry, and he smelled foul from eating god-knows-what. Moose decided he’d had enough of Nick’s antagonism and told Cookie, if you keep Nick away from us, you can be in our club. So that’s what Cookie did: for six years he made it his mission to make Nick’s life hell. He followed him around the property, quacking like a duck (Cookie did not meow, he quacked) smacking at Nick’s tail, being relentlessly annoying. Poor Nick, I did feel for him, but in truth he did deserve to be hassled because he was a pain in the butt.
Belonging to The Moose Club had a remarkable effect on Cookie.
|Moose, Cookie & Logan|
|Cookie & Moose|
|For 3 years I rarely got a photo of Cookie sitting upright|
He turned from insecure, his tail always tucked between his legs, always rolling on his side with submission, into a confidant and commanding cat. In fact…he earned the nickname The General. (Cookie was an unfortunate name for him. I originally called him Oreo, but he didn’t know what the heck an Oreo was and he actually liked Cookie.) Moose was not only a friend to him, but a father figure. And Logan was Cookie’s brother-friend. The three of them went everywhere together. That Moose, a kind gentleman with huge six-toe’d paws, took Cookie under his wing and gave him purpose is something I will never forget. Moose was an amazing cat, feral and yet in his golden years actually lived inside my home, never causing any trouble.
|Moose in his golden years|
On June 29, 2003 The General went into battle again my sister’s Jeep, and came out a little worse for it. Despite the heat of the summer, he crawled inside her engine and napped in the fan box. When she started the car…ugh. I recall the look on her face when she tried to start her car for a second time--and realized what might have happened. She threw open the hood and Cookie was inside. We lived on 5 acres…surrounded by woods. If he ran, and was as injured as I feared, it would not be good. So I reached in and pulled him out. He was clearly in agony, and chomped into my hand, highly uncharacteristic for this sweet, mellow cat. Still, I held on while my sister ran for my cat carrier. All the way to the emergency Cookie sat in his box, saying “Ow! Ow! Ow!” He had a broken leg and lost a couple toes from one paw. And his life changed for it, because we brought him inside the house permanently.
Indoors, Cookie hit it off with Herman, and Buddy and Holly. We now had the four mouseketeers in our home and they were pals.
The General transferred his allegiance from Moose and Logan to Ray and I. He would tell us when to get up, and when to go to bed. We were the ones now pursued with annoying relentlessness throughout the house. The indoor cats however never showed signed of being annoyed by his odd quacking, raspy voice, or the way he would herd us like sheep. Ray referred to him as a sheep cat for awhile.
When we moved from Kentucky country to suburban Mid-South area, I had to bring my cats indoors. I could not risk them being hit by a car as our home now sat behind a busy street. That meant The General would not only be reunited with his pals Moose and Logan, but also be residing inside with Nicholas. But 3 years had passed and Nick no longer stunk. He had mellowed with age and frankly I think he was happy retiring from the outside tomcat life. I still picture Nick sitting like a bear at the zoo with his back against a wall, his legs out in front of him, grooming himself, at peace.
Amazingly, Nick and Cookie became…well, friends isn’t right. More like co-Alphas. They grew to respect each other. I always fed them side by side, Nick twice as big as Cookie.
Although there were still times when they reverted back to their old relationship where Cookie bugged the heck out of Nick and Nick had to show him who was boss.
Still, the older Nick became, the less interested he was in putting the other cats in their place, but frankly Cookie never stopped trying to keep order. The day before he passed, he cuffed Barney’s ear for sitting too close to his food dish.
Cookie lived fifteen years, thirteen of which were a part of my life. I regret that I wasn’t able to hold him as a baby, but I was honored to watch him evolve from the shy, insecure nerd he was into the amazing Alpha he became.
So now Cookie and Nick sit side by side on my shelf, and hopefully their spirits will linger in my household, keeping watch over us until we see each other again in the afterlife. Which I truly believe is possible.
I would like Cookie and Nick to serve as poster cats for mold-related respiratory infection. In 2009 we had a huge tree drop on our home during a tornado. The contractor hired to repair the damage took far too long, and with the heat, humidity and the rain, I believe that is how mold turned up inside our air handlers. It grew over the next two years, and the result was first Nick and then Cookie suffered for it. In fact, we all did. Please click on their photos on the side bar to read about symptoms and what to look for. I highly recommend you have your air ducts cleaned professionally every 3 years. If your family suffers from runny noses, constant lethargy, memory loss, inability to concentrate…you could have mold in your home.