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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Cat I Left Behind

Guilt is a strange thing, most of the time I have no complaints about it at all. When I feel guilty about doing something wrong and it’s a small thing, like sneaking my dog into a museum in his little bag, I feel twinges of guilt, they pass and I get on with my day. But when I say something hurtful, am inconsiderate or just plain wrong; I usually have the sense to realize it or I wait until it is brought to my attention. The initial angst the guilty produces is so disruptive to my existence that I will go to almost any length to be rid of it. In these cases where my ego is one the line, when it feels uncomfortable to admit I wrong, I try very earnestly to bite the bullet, apologize, do the right thing and make amends. I am now however, dealing with guilt of the highest degree. When I left Seattle, five and a half months ago, my sister and I planned to have her move into the house I was living in. She was kind enough to keep my elderly cat in his environment in addition to her 2 kittens and her little dog. That plan fell through and she is still in her considerably smaller apartment with three cats and a dog. My old cat was thrust into living in much smaller quarters while her animals had to deal with a really grouchy older cat.

For the past 13 years I have loved Bak-Gai (his name means “white son” in Cantonese). I love him still and really think about him daily. He is at least 15 years old, possible 16 or 17, as I was living in a hotel for two months I did not bring him along like I did the dog.

This lovely creature is the apple of my eye. 30% of all my photographs over the past 13 years have been of this cat. He is the most gentle, the most loving animal I have ever met. Never did he bear a grudge against me for going on vacation, for bringing home 2 puppies that annoyed him and ate his food, and never has he bitten or scratched me even whilst I brushed his teeth, trimmed his nails, or gave him a bath. When my sister told me he was attacking her kittens and not eating well, I knew he was in emotional trouble. My stomach tied itself in a knot. I have tried in vain to find someone in Seattle who is willing to care for him until the end of his life, since sending him to Italy on a plane might be too detrimental. No luck.

Last week my sister told me once again he was going downhill, not eating as well and this time pulling the hair from his front paws. I can’t imagine the pain he must be going thorough. I appreciate immensely the help my sister has provided in taking care of him these past months. Now I am struggling with what to do? Should I send for him and risk his health? Should my sister just keep him, even though he is stressed out and so are her animals? He has a bit of a periodontal problem and he getting a bit worse every month. Other than that he’s just old. I can’t fathom putting him down yet? I am at a loss as to what to do and the guilt is devastating me. I promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. I feel so guilty for not keeping my promise. He was supposed to live out his last years in the house he spent the past 7 years in; looking out our big picture window and sleeping on the couch. I feel like such a bad person.


At 7:58 PM, Blogger H. (aka. NC_State_Gal) said...

Gia - Thanks for stopping by and adding such nice comments to my blog. I read this entry and just started crying. I can empathize because I experienced a very similar situation myself.

You aren't a bad person! You were thinking of his best interest by leaving him in a familiar environment. It is just sad that he can't live his days out in peace with your sister's household of animals. Can your sister contact one of the no-kill animal shelters in the area? Or post something at the vet's office? There are always plenty of people that actually love cats that would be willing to adopt an older cat to live out the rest of his days...

Sorry to read that you have such a hard decision to make :(.

At 12:28 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Gia, a bad person doesn't suffer when they do something that causes pain.
I'd send for him. I don't think the trip would be worse than the depression he is in. I brought 5 cats with me. They love it here. None were as old as that, but it wouldn't matter. Think of his joy when he finally gets who you are!
You made a good plan and it didn't work. Go to plan B.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Maribeth said...

Gia - I feel so badly for you. I rescued a kitten two years ago...in the middle of a tornado. Her name is Nado and I promised to care for her forever. I had lost my husband the year before and Nado brought me out of my grief.
She has always wanted to be outside..and I live in Arizona winters and Minnesota summers. Last night she was attacked by something and nearly killed. She has just gotten out of surgery...I will be picking her up at 3:00 P.M. and returning to Minnesota via air tomorrow. I'm sick at heart, feeling very, very guilty...because I knew danger lurked outside...but was torn by her plaintive meowing to be let out.

I hope that you will be able to be reunited with your beautiful cat. Life is hard...our love for our pets, and they for us, is unconditional.


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