I hate to watch Frieda enter the last days of her life.
It has been a long life, filled with adventures and companionship of family and friends and lots of love. But cats live in a faster time than human memory. I can so clearly recall the robust, sassy red cat with the proudly perpendicular tail who brooked no nonsense from cat nor beast.
Her spirit is still indomitable but her poor body has aged and betrayed that bright spirit. She spends most of her time now on the plush bed I put on the heated slab of the shop, near the corner she claimed as her favorite resting spot. Food dishes are brought to her and there is fresh water every morning. I know she gets up and moves around to attend her feline hygiene chores. She still makes what has become a long walk for her to the feeding station where we feed the other shop cats. An unnecessary journey for her--since we offer her her first dibs on the food at her own feeding station near her bed. It has become increasingly challenging to find something that pique's her failing appetite.
Each morning I weight the quality of her life. Is she in pain? Does it hurt to move? To eat? Are the fluids I give her under her skin comforting or a burden to her? Does she enjoy the warm washcloth on her face and paws or is my attention a nuisance?
We do not confuse these dear companions with human children but we are in loco parentis to them, charged with caring for and protecting them. And, alas, we cannot protect them from time. We want to. We want to stop the flow of years and keep them forever strong and vital but time, relentless river that it is, wears them away before our eyes.
Our fiery red cat--I hate watching that dear spark glimmer and fade....