Mourning my Cat: In Memory of Miccola, my Beloved Persian Cat
Miccola was often featured on my cat articles here on Hubpages.
The Cutest Bundle of Joy
It was July 1998. My birthday was just around the corner. My hubby knew I fell in love with a tortoiseshell Persian cat I often met upon walking home in a small alley in the Italian town of Santo Moro, Tuscany. I often talked about this Persian cat, how soft she was and how she always purred when she met me begging to be pet. I often took that route on purpose just to meet her even though it meant a longer walk with heavy bags as I came home from shopping.
Because I often talked about her, hubby already knew what I wanted when my birthday was around the corner. So I started doing some research. One day, a newspaper called "Il Micco" was delivered to my door. I read the ads and found one about a breeder selling two Persian kittens, an orange male and tortoiseshell female. So the day of my birthday we went to take a look. Here were two small, fur balls, the cutest things that purred. Mom was a gorgeous tortie, dad was a handsome orange fellow. I pet both kittens, and knew that the tortie had to be mine. It was love at first sight.
We paid the breeder and headed home. I decided to call her "Miccola" because of the newspaper's name. I think I still have the cut-out newspaper ad somewhere-- one day I hope it will pop up. After that day I picked her up at the breeder, it's as if the time just flew, from kitten to adult, then from adult to senior. Many memories cross my mind, but it's as if her life was just cut too short. You may say 15 is a great age, but I'm greedy--time just goes too fast. The following are just some relevant chapters of her life.
Miccola: The Traveling Kitty
When you lose a cat, it's as if you are losing a long part of your life. There are so many life changes and so many memories cherished together in the lifespan of 15 years! If I think about all the stuff we have done during Miccola's lifespan, my head spins! We traveled a lot with her and she accompanied me every where, from Italy to Germany, then from Germany to the States, then back to Italy. She was on the car, ship, bus, and airplane, you name it!
She grew up in Italy and when we went to visit my parents for the holidays she came along at all times. In the airplane, she was allowed to travel in the main cabin with me. She was always grabbing attention when people saw her in her carrier. She didn't seem to mind the attention. During the flight, she was over all pretty quiet. She did an occasional meow when the food service came by, possibly in protest for the flight attendants not giving her anything to eat.
At times, we took a ship that allowed cats to travel as well. The ship had a special area on the top deck where cats were kept in a separate area from the dogs. I hated to leave her there, but we often came to see her. I remember one day, they gave her a cage where there was all this air coming out and she meowed in protest begging me to change cage as her tail was just flying in the air. I therefore, opened the cage and moved her to another one. Her meowing stopped immediately and then she started to purr as to thank me. If you ever thought cats aren't loyal or loving, you should have seen how happy she was to see us each time we came to visit!
We traveled with her on bus once. Unfortunately, as she got older she started getting car sick or stressed for some reason. I had to give her acepromazine because she would panic, meow in the most awful way (those who have cats who hate puking, know that kind of meow) and then got sick. I tried to make her travel less and less as she aged.
Miccola also traveled on a long transatlantic flight in the airplane (which she didn't suffer at all) a long flight over the pond. My husband was in the military so we were stationed in Germany and then we went back to the States. She wasn't allowed in the cabin this time. I remember I was very concerned about having a brachycephalic breed travel in the cargo. I contacted so many Persian cat breeders asking if it was safe, and they told me they shipped kittens all the time with no problems.
I also had to look for a cage for her big enough to not feel crammed for the long flight. I went to a thrift store as I had seen the perfect cage just a day prior and what a coincidence, a lady had that cage in her hands as she was paying at the register. Luckily, we had time to go to the city and get her another one that was airline-approved. I remember attaching a nice picture of my kitty on the crate and writing the flight number and the following cute note:"Hello, my name is Miccola and I am an 8 year Persian. This is my first time flying in cargo, so I am a little bit nervous. Please take good care of me and ensure I have a great flight and I will be happy to fly with you again!"
She then saw a vet to get a clean bill of health 3 days prior to flying. I was really concerned about those embargo rules which had restrictions when the weather was too cold. Luckily, they allowed us to fly out.
We arrived late at night in the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania which was covered in a blanket of snow. We slept in a hotel that accepted cats, but to my horror, when I woke up in the middle of the night I couldn't find her. I was so scared and worried, I woke the owners up to ask if there were any escape routes and she somewhat was able to get out. I went out, called her name, looked for foot prints on the snow. Finally, the owner told me to take a peak between the bed and the mattress, and there she was! Big sigh of relief.
Miccola, the Martial Arts Kitty
We lived in Pennsylvania for several years, as I started working for a day care, a pharmacy and then for a vet. Here for the first time, she started exhibiting aggressive behavior. I had never seen anything like that. She started attacking our legs, growling and hissing as if she was in martial arts. I did loads of research and published a hub as I was doing that called "causes of cat aggressive behavior". I then took her to the vet which wasn't much of help, other than ruling out medical conditions. Luckily, these episodes didn't last long. If I closed her in a dark room, she would come back to her lovely self within an hour.
I decided to try to work on it and solve the mystery on my own. I spent hours reading, researching and learning the basics of behavior modification. I thought it was perhaps stress. But how could a kitty get stress? She ate, slept and played all day! What a blissful life! I then suspected it was a case of what was known as "re-directed aggression". In other words, she possibly saw some stimulus outside the window that aroused her so much, she would redirect her arousal through an aggressive display targeted towards us. So I had to manage her environment and prevent her from getting aroused. This meant pulling all the curtains away to prevent any views of outdoor stimuli to disturb her. This seemed to work a bit, but then she was back to the aggressive behavior.
Because I noticed that her focus was often on shoes and feet, I tried to countercondition her to my feet by giving her treats every time I walked by. Yet, this worked only at times. At others, she would revert to the aggressive behavior. At some point, I was wondering if I was dealing with a case of feline hyperesthesia, also known as "rolling skin disease" as I often did see her roll her back skin at times.
At my wits end, when we traveled back to Italy using an airline that allowed cats in the cabin--yes, a transatlantic flight!-, I decided to see if changing the place would have made a difference. So I left her at my parent's house for a while and amazingly the episodes seemed to subside! I now have my own theory when it comes to the change of behavior. Perhaps the carpet was to blame. In Italy, my parents had only tiles. Indeed, it wasn't unusual at times for us and her to get shocked when we walked on the carpet. I am sure this irritated her and made her grumpy, At times,when she ran on the carpet, I had the feeling she was getting this static sensation that perhaps made her reactive. While the episodes subsided greatly, there were still a few episodes every now and then, but mostly when my parents changed types of shoes. We came to accept this as one of her occasional behavior quirks.
A Special Kitty
After all, Miccola was a very well-mannered and happy cat. In Germany, I used to walk her on a leash and she did amazingly well. We used to go to this little park where she would eat grass and roll on it. At times, I thought her leash manners were better than a dogs'. In her last months in Italy, she came to love the pizza delivery guy. She knew when he was coming and waited for him anxiously by the elevator. She must have loved the smell of fresh-baked pizza, but for sure she loved the mozzarella my parents would feed her every now and then.
I will never forget the day I was cooking and placed a can of sauce in a saucepan to warm up. I then stepped out the door to get a little bit of basil from a plant I kept in a vase just a couple of steps away. I left the door ajar, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, a sudden breeze shut the door and locked me outside. I froze, when I noticed I didn't have the keys on me and I was locked out. Soon, the sauce started burning and I saw the smoke filling up in my home and coming out an open window. And then, from the window, I suddenly saw my poor Miccola, meowing at me, asking for help! A neighbor lent me a ladder, but I was unable to climb up. Worried sick, I didn't know what to do. Suddenly, at a distance, I saw my hubby's car coming my way. He had keys on him! So we rescued poor Miccola and opened all the windows to get the smoke out.
Miccola rejoiced at the many simple things in life. Once we purchased her a remote controlled mouse. I spent lots of money on that mouse, but for some reason she cared less about it. We came to discover later though that she went bonkers for the antenna part of the remote. When she saw it move, her pupils would dilate as she got ready to pounce! Funny how these cats loved little simple toys such as a ball of tin foil.
One of the last times I saw her, I was there for my dog training certification process. I had brought my Rottweiler with me for the test, and Miccola was scared of her. Miccola was also scared of me for some reason and growled at me as if she was mad that I had chosen to get a dog. One night though she surprised us all: she saw my dog laying down on a mat and decided to go meet her finally as my dog's face was facing the opposite way. She met her "butt" first and sniffed my dog's bum and then left. After that day, they were able to tolerate each other and she even sat real close to my dog!
The very last time I saw her was two years ago in January. It feels like yesterday. I remember getting my suit case ready and then walking up to her while she was laying on a chair in the balcony. I kissed her soft head saying good-bye as I tried to get a mental picture of her, wondering if I would ever see her again.
Her Final Days
The news that Miccola developed liver failure, anemia, ascites and hyperthyroidism was devastating. She went from a healthy, hungry cat to a sick cat in days. Her abdomen swelled and she was leaking fluid from her legs. She went down hill in a week or so. The vets told us that there was nothing to do and to consider euthanasia if she was suffering. I cried when I got the news, as I thought of all the great memories we had. I told my mom to give her a pat from me and save a chunk of her fur. She died in the night at home on June 25th 2013 with dignity as my sister pet her. She always dreaded the vet and got panicky, so she was where she loved best surrounded by familiar surroundings and loving pats.
I will always remember my doll "my bambolina". She was a very special kitty and I feel blessed she was able to enjoy 15 years of a very happy life. Take care Miccola! We will hopefully meet one day over the rainbow bridge! In the meanwhile, this will be my little virtual place to cherish your life and all the great memories!
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings..." John Gillespie Magee
For help on coping with the death of a pet, read epbook's article "How to properly grieve your dog or cat". I too find that writing about our deceased pets will help us cope with their loss better!