My cat is very old. How old? I'm not quite sure but we've had her for over fifteen years. When we adopted her (from the Michigan Humane Society), her paperwork said "over one year," but the scribbled hot pink sign on her cage said she was four. She had had a litter of five kittens and was named "Mommy" because she was a good mother to them. But there was just no way I was going to keep that name; she became Holly Golightly, for the ambivalent, elusive main character in Truman Capote's novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Holly Golightly is loving and sweet, but she's also temperamental, tough, and quickly lets you know when she doesn't like something. As we like to say, she's no pushover.
Because she's old, because I care about her, because she's affectionate...I worry about her emotional well-being. It seems to be important to her to be cuddled in our arms, petted, and paid attention to.
As a result of my own worries, I feel I cannot leave her longer than three nights when I leave town on vacation. After that, I feel she acts out (misses the litter box, stops eating as much). I really think she needs our connection and, when there's a cat sitter, she doesn't get it. Or rather, I should say, she doesn't permit it.
You see, Holly Golightly is only friendly to Jim and me. She hisses and growls at everyone else if they try to get too close. She'll sniff you and meow loudly in greeting, but that's as close as she'll allow.
Right now, she's holding her own, with a heart murmur, a very tiny weight of under 7 pounds, and daily yowling (for food? for attention?) in the early morning and late at night. But she eats well, uses her litter box, climbs up and down stairs (her only exercise as she no longer plays), and is on no prescription drugs. Last Christmas, we almost lost her when she stopped eating for four days. But she wasn't yet ready to go.
Lately the vet has been saying things like, "this is probably her last rabies shot" or "you shouldn't expect her to live to a very old age and, when she goes, it will be fast because she's so underweight." I accept that. I realize her low weight means that something is going on inside her and she's too old for me to make her undergo any invasive (not to mention expensive) tests to find out. She's not in pain.
So I'll just love her and, when the time comes, let her go.