2012-10-01

Stella's Story

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We never meant to get a third cat. At the time, we had a tiny house and I was already pushing my luck with our two cats, Kyle and Bec. But at the end of the winter of 2008, a cat started hanging around our place and I fell in love instantly. There were always plenty of cats in our old neighbourhood, the lady across the street fed strays and many people kept their cats outdoors. But then this special cat showed up, and unlike the other cats, it was immediately clear that he was a stray cat, not an outdoor neighbourhood cat with a home. He was so friendly and sweet but the tips of his ears were bloody and barely hanging on and the mats on the sides of his body were as large as my fist.
I immediately set to work trying to convince Matt that our household would be better place with this ragamuffin in it. My friend and I tried to figure out the stray cat's situation (male, female, fixed...) but the cat wasn't very co-operative and so we just guessed that it was a girl. I named the cat, Stella, after all, it was easier to convince Matt to take in another cat when it had a name.
And then Stella went missing. Stella is a striking cat with smokey fur and, sadly, at that time, bloody ears, and I knew someone must have some information. You don't forget a face like that...
I went to the local animal control with my Mama and she checked all the cages to see if Stella had been picked up. No luck. I started knocking on neighbourhood doors and talking to neighbourhood children in the least creepy way possible. Finally I caught a break and ended up on the porch of a lady who told me she had noticed a feral cat and called animal control to pick it up. In the midst of getting some information from this lady, she started some verbal warfare with the father of a child fighting with her child in the park across the street. It was an awkward moment, we paused to let the adults exchange heated swear words in front of their children. I don't know the exact details of the story, and the source of the story was definitely a little flakey but apparently, Stella wasn't pleased at being picked up by Animal Control and somebody got scratched. This landed Stella in a 10 day quarantine. This is why my Mama didn't see him when we went to Animal Control earlier. On day 8 of the 10 day confinement, I confirmed Stella's whereabouts and committed to taking him home in two days. Let's be honest, most cats in Animal Control don't make it over to the SPCA to have a chance at a forever home, and I knew Stella needed to be saved.
When I came back to Animal Control two days later, they brought Stella to the front and said to me 'here he is!'. He? This was news. Turns out my Stella was a neutered boy.

And that's the story of how the boy cat named Stella found his way into our home and into our hearts.

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Stella was a special cat. He had the most unusual appearance. A pure white undercoat with black tips gave him a smokey appearance. The tips of his ears (which were most likely damaged from frostbite that winter before we adopted him) fell off and made him look like a bear cub. He had crazy yellow eyes and a crazier fluffy tail that was always proudly held up to the sky.
He was everybody's cat. We gave Bec my last name because she is definitely my little bitchy girl. Kyle has Matt's last name because Matt and Kyle are snuggle lovers. But Stella had a hyphenated last name. He belong to both Matt and I, but he mostly belonged to everybody. He was gentle with kids and always the first to greet and hang out anyone who came over.
Stella was almost unflappable. New surroundings, new people, new cats or even dogs didn't give him anxiety in the least. He just did not care. Any place you put him immediately became his place and he would set about exploring it accordingly. You could yell at him (because sometimes he was a test of one's patience) and he would look at you with his wise, yellow eyes and then wait for you to run out of steam before he would come over to give you a head butt.
When I used to make wedding dresses, he was convinced that the bra inserts were cat toys and unless I hid them, I would find them all over the house. He would sit with me for hours as I sewed and then look me in the eye with love while simultaneously swatting an entire container of pins on the floor.
The street cat within Stella often reared its head. We reluctantly gave in and let him go outside in our old place. One time he disappeared for a weekend and after posting pictures everywhere, we got a tip that he was across a 5 lane road in the area. He got grounded after that. But this summer, I cracked under pressure and we started to let him out in the back yard of our new place. I much prefer to have my cats be indoor cats, I constantly worry about other animals, cars, diseases but I'm glad we let Stella outside this summer. He was very good about staying near the house this time and I will always remember him sitting with us for dinner on the patio. He would sometimes go and hang out with people at the bus stop nearby. I hated him being close to the road but he would go, make some new friends and then lay in his signature, legs crossed, chest out pose and wait with them for the bus. We always joked that one day he was going to hop on the bus and go for a little adventure downtown himself.

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(Snuggly and sick at the vet, 2 days before he died.)

Two weeks ago, I started noticing that Stella was acting different. He was just way too chill. When he started losing weight I got worried and took him in to see the vet. Besides the weight loss and chill attitude, nothing alarming showed  in his appointment. We took a guess, treated him for parasites and I took him home to keep a close eye on him. He didn't improve. He stopped eating and drinking. I had taken him to the vet on Wednesday and I spent Thursday night chasing him around with tuna juice, imploring him to drink just a little. That night he came down from his little hideaway in my closet and sat with the family one last time. Of course, I had no idea that it would be the last time but I'm so glad I got a picture. It's such a regular scene around the house but that night it would be a final scene.

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The next day I spent the morning with him and then went to work. My friend who works at a vet, would come by in an hour and take him to work with her. I knew Stella was quite sick but I expected he would go on an IV drip, get some further tests and we would have to make some decisions from there. But he went into cardiac arrest on the drive to the vet, and though they tried to keep him alive so I could say goodbye, he died right before I got there. Through my tears on the mad race over to the vet, I made a wrong turn. Part of me thinks that's how I missed my chance to say goodbye but the other part of me knows I got to say goodbye on the front porch that morning as I cradled him one last time in the sunshine.

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It turns out my Stella Ella Ola had congestive heart failure. There was really nothing we could have done. It was quite sudden and he was still young and quite frankly, it sucks.

I can see the silver lining in Stella's last few days. Though he got weaker and slept a lot, from what we could see, he was never in any pain. Even as I followed him around with treats, he would reject the treats, start to purr and roll over to request a chest rub instead. He purred even as my friend put him in the carrier on his last trip to the vet. I'm also thankful that my amazing friend, an experienced vet tech, was there when he went into cardiac arrest. I know it was not pleasant for her and I feel selfish saying it but I think I would have fallen apart if I had been there. Most of all, I am thankful we gave Stella another 4 and a half years of life. A life he lived to the fullest, even though he never did end up taking that bus ride downtown...

All that doesn't stop my heart from breaking a little every time some pure white fluff still rolls by on the floor. I'm going to miss the sweet cause of that constant tumble weed so much...

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77 comments :

Orchid Grey said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear that sweet Stella passed. Losing a pet is losing a family member, and man, it's rough. This was a beautiful story, and a beautiful way to remember what sounds like a pretty amazing cat. thinking of you, xo.

BESOS LYNN said...

What fluffy goodness!

Jamie said...

Thank you for sharing Stella's story. I have tears in my eyes after reading it and I know I will go home and hug my cats extra tonight.

It's funny that he was a boy with a girl's name. I actually have a girl cat with a boy name. She's a rust colored long-hair named Leo with hair between her toes just like Stella. I can't imagine losing her, but someday I know it will come.

My thoughts are with you as you heal from your loss.

Renay Piper said...

God bless you, Yentina. I have two rescue cats and my heart breaks for you, while sending a virtual high five at your love and compassion for these dear creatures that become our families instantly.

Anonymous said...

Sweet, sweet fur babies. They give nothing but love and affection and want nothing but the same in return. Having a pet is like inviting a small tragedy into your home, but are more than worth the ride.

All the best to you, Kyle, and Bec.

-A

Jane said...

Thank You for sharing Stells's storey. I finally gave in to my daughter and my husband and we got a new cat in August. My daughter called her Kitty Soft Paws. Anyways it was after having sister kitties die of we are not sure what suddenly at a very young age for cats that I wanted to take a break. But having the life in the house, someone who cuddles up on your lap and thankfully a someone who is great with little hands that think pulling a tail is a good idea.

My hear goes out to you and your Stella.

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written post...I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this.

Jen said...

Sorry for your loss Yen. I follow your blog because I love your sense of humor and of course fabulous fashion posts. I have a dog I am fairly obsessed with, and have already warned my friends I will most likely slip into a vodka induced coma when we lose him. This post is beautifully written and a wonderful ode to one of your best pals.

Elaine Hearn said...

Gosh. Now you're making me cry and wish I could snuggle with my Rosie!! I'm so sorry for your loss, Yen. I know he must've been so happy with you and Matt and the other cat babies. RIP Stella.

Kyla said...

I'm sorry :(

Marie a la Mode said...

This made me tear up, Stella sounds like he/she was a lovely cat. She was meant to be with you and Matt. And she was so lucky to have those years with you guys, as were you. Rest in peace Stella!

Rebekah said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My cat died suddenly a couple years ago, so I know how hard losing a pet who is a family member can be. It sounds like you gave Stella such a great life in his time with you.

K said...

I so very sorry for your loss. You did a wonderful thing bringing that adorable fluff ball into your home and giving him a great life.

Jumberlain said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about your loss. Pets are so special. I've lost many but it doesn't get any easier, unfortunately.

What a stunning creature Stella was. Gorgeous boy. He was lucky that you were there to give him such a good life. Thanks for sharing this, even though I'm sure it was hard.

thatdamngreendress said...

darn, I made the mistake of reading your story on public transit...

I'm so sorry about your gorgeous fuzzy boy, but I'm glad he got to spend those years with you, for all the snuggling and head-butting.

It all reminds me too painfully and beautifully of our sweet fuzzy grey stray Rousseau. We had to say goodbye to him in August after what seems like too short a time (14 years). I never knew how hard it would be, to say goodbye to a little critter that shared every part of your world. Those little reminders every day hurt, but I am happy to still find little grey tufts attached to my sweaters and blankets...

Big hugs to you two and your kitties.

Daisy said...

Oh my gosh, your story just broke my heart a little. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes, thinking how much it would hurt to lose my pet, a bubbly Jack Russell terrier. I'm very happy that you give him such a warm home though, I'm sure you made his life so much more love!

Kimi said...

From one cat lady to another - so sorry, girl. Stella was a singular dude. ((hugs))

briannelee said...

Ah, I have tears in my eyes. So sorry Yen. My heart goes out to you.

Rachel said...

...and now I'm crying. But not as much as you are, I'm sure. It's so hard to lose a furry little friend, and I'm really sorry for your loss. I'm so glad he didn't suffer.

Hope you get some extra snuggles from your other kitties.

lisadenoia said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so sad to lose a pet. :( What a wonderful story though -- I'm sure Stella appreciated that you gave him such a wonderful home and family over the last few years.

Sweet Laundry said...

I've never owned a cat, but I can appreciate the sadness one experiences when they lose a pet. Sorry for your loss. Stella was lucky to have had you in his life.

Lab geek said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It is heart breaking.
I also have a kitty who's ear were frost bitten (frost bit?). She looks like a little lion.

Stella said...

So sorry for your loss. He was gorgeous!

(And so sorry for the fact that my name will remind you of Stella...)

Merl said...

you are an amazing woman with a big heart perfectly shaped for our furry friends to snuggle in. Stella is one lucky little man that you wore Matt down enough to bring him into your home and life but it's you guys that really won in the end. even though he unexpectedly left, you can look back at these last 4 years of photos and experiences -both good and exasperating- with love and affection for that little bear cub cat. love you mama and sending the biggest kitty headbutts and wet nose kisses. <3

Sheila said...

Oh, Jen, I am so sorry to hear about your dear Stella. What a lovely and touching tribute to your furry family member. As I've lost two of our cats in the last 2 years, here I am sitting at my desk in tears as I read your words and think of your lovely kitty.

All the best to you and Matt, and your other cats. Sending you good vibes, and I'll give Vizzini extra snuggles tonight and tell him about Stella.

Hug,
Sheila

Adrienne J said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! I too work at a Vet. It breaks my heart to see heart failure on a weekly basis. He will live on in your memories. :)

Kelly said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss :( As a fellow cat-lover I know how hard it can be. He sounds like he was such a sweet boy and it was amazing that you took him in and gave him a wonderful and loving home. He had a good life, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Aw. That's sad. I liked him and he always looked so nice where-ever he flopped himself down.

Henk

Sarah said...

This is such a sweet story. I loved hearing about Stella and how he got a second chance at life! A lot of people don't get why some people get so attached to their pets (I'm one of those people that treats their pets like children!) but this makes it so clear. It's those tiny things about their personalities,habits and look that just makes you fall in love with them. Its clear that Stella was a pretty lucky cat to get to be part of your family!

Lois said...

Lucky Stella to have had you for these 4 1/2 years. What a beautiful cat. Mine are all rescues, and recently we took in a young female from Blake and Maplewood. She had been abandoned by her evicted people, just left behind to fend for herself. She is our third,and you are right, you never want 3 cats, but sometimes it just happens.

Kat said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Stella was very lucky to have found you- most people would have given up on him long before you did!! It's clear that you feel just as lucky to have found him, too.

Sending you hugs,

Kat in Calgary.

Jennie Butler said...

Stella sounds like a very lucky guy to have had you. Thank you so much for sharing his great story! I lost my own sweet baby this summer and there's really nothing worse in the world. Never forget that he's looking down on you with love!

greenbean said...

my thoughts are with you. *hugs*

Amber said...

What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing! Stella is one very lucky cat! I'm so very sorry that you've lost a sweet cat and a close friend. My heart weeps for you and your family. <3

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about Stella but thank you so much for sharing that story and making all of us hug our dear ones a little tighter tonight.

Ingrid said...

I, too, am sorry for your loss. It's so hard to lose someone who loves you...

K.Line said...

So sorry... What a lovely tribute to your beautiful kitty.

Vanessa said...

Oh my darling. I am so sorry to hear that you've lost your gorgeous Stella. Losing a pet hurts deeply, but try to remember that the pain is so great only because it is borne from tremendous love.

Best wishes. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

gleeps said...

I'm so sorry you lost your gorgeous boy, Jentine. I know how intensely you will grieve. I'm so glad you have your other furry babies to comfort you.

Erin said...

My heart just broke. I will hug my kittens a little longer tonight. Sending love your way.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about Stella. My heart goes out to you at this sad time. :(

kate l'atelier said...

so sorry to hear this, the entire story brought tears to my eyes. my thoughts are with you, going to give my little girl a big squeeze.

Joanne M said...

I might have cried my little eyes out after reading this. Stay strong missy. You are lucky you had her in your life:)

Anonymous said...

so sorry :(

Unknown said...

RIP Stella

Angie Pelekidis said...

Holy crap you made me cry! I'm so sorry for your loss. God I love cats. You did a wonderful thing taking him in, and I'm sure he had an amazing life in the short time he was with you. How different it would have been if you hadn't adopted him. Life on the streets is brutal on animals. Especially ones that love to be loved as your guy clearly did.

tragicomedia_gmr said...

*Crying in the office* I'm so sorry for yout loss Yen! I know how heartwrenching it is to lose a pet/part of the family/child even... But be happy for the life and love you gave him. He's now in a better place and you'll reunite.

newpetite said...

So sorry about Stella! Its hard to lose someone. Their memories will forever be with us. Thanks for sharing beautiful and handsome Stella with us. *Hugs*

Anonymous said...

:(

Sorry for your loss. I am a doggie momma (adopted from the SPCA) and I dread the day my doggie will pass.

What a wonderful 4.5 years you had with Stella. Now he is where there is no more pain.

Amber of Butane Anvil said...

Jentine, thank you for telling Stella's story so beautifully. He was a good kitty and a precious friend - I'm so glad you had each other. xo

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful cat . Sorry for your loss.

Dee

Jessica said...

Your post made me cry, thinking of you and squeezing my kittens extra tight tonight. When I was little my mom and I made it our business to take in strays and feed feral cats, now that I have two rescues of my own, I can't imagine life without them. Stella was lucky to have you, and his life was full because of you both!

Anonymous said...

i am so sorry, yen. your tribute to stella brought me to tears. i am so happy you could rescue him and give him so many extra happy years. he was a beautiful cat; i love his ears. hugs from a faithful reader in NC.

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Stella. Your tribute to him was so lovely and touching. Wishing you and your husband comfort during this sad time.

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Myrna said...

I'm so sorry for you loss. Sweet Stella was lucky to have you guys love and care for her. My dog died 3 years ago from congested heart failure and those last months with her were awful there was nothing we could do for her. My hubby took her to the vet one Tuesday morning and just before I left for work I snapped a quick pic of her snuggling with her daddy.That was the last time I saw Lucy. We were scheduled to pick her up on Friday and that morning my vet called and gave us the bad news. For a couple of weeks I was so angry at myself for not saying good bye. Time kept moving and my tears have dried up but the pain is still there. I look forward to seeing her in my dreams however that's only happen a few times.
I will hug my kitties extra tight tonight. Thanks for sharing your story. From one cat lady to another.

XX-Myrna

http://mybeatboutique.blogspot.com

Van Nguyen said...

I'm sorry for your lost. You've loved Stella so much.

Kathy said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I had to had my sweet kitty put to sleep one month ago, so I know exactly how you feel. Even if it was only for a short time, you were able to give Stella a loving home and a better life than he'd ever known. May Bec & Kyle be a comfort to you during this difficult time.

Emma said...

So sorry for the loss. I just wanted to post a comment to let you know how much this post was appreciated- an absolutely beautiful tribute to what looks like an amazing cat.

Lisa M. said...

I am so sorry for your loss! I am also child-free for life and my furry babies are my children and my parents grandchildren. I have a bunny named Stella, her husbun who is named Simon, and two cats, Soma & Ravi. I will be devastated whenever one of them passes away. I admire your courage to post this story - I don't think I could have done it.

Brenna said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Stella sounded like an amazing cat and family member. Keep him in your heart and you know that he had a wonderful family and life with you!!

Lindsey A. Turner said...

I cannot even imagine how devastated you must be! He was beautiful- such a unique color! So sorry for your loss!

Lindsey
http://thriftandshout.blogspot.com

forefrontfashion said...

I am so extremely sorry for your loss. I recently adopted a feral cat named Jasper, a big male that originally ran and hid and cowered everytime I entered the room. It's been 6 months and now he sleeps on top of me every night. I am so blessed to have a cat like that and you are so lucky you were able to be such a good mama to stella! lots of love!

Sydney said...

aww schmea, I am sitting here at work totally crying. I am sending you some catlover healing love (if thats a thing), Im really sorry that he's gone but I am glad that you see a silver lining, that always helps.

Suzanne said...

First time posting, but I wanted to say that I'm so sorry for the loss of your Stella. He was gorgeous.

Kimmielovesparis said...

A lovely post and a tribute to Stella. I am so sorry.

Meg said...

Many hugs, Yen. Stella sounds like a wonderful cat.

s said...

And you've just made me cry...so sorry & bless Stella

Rebecca Jane said...

This is such a sweet but also really sad story. I'm sorry to hear about poor Stella, it's always so hard to lose a cherished pet.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! I'm sorry you lost that dear kitty so young! It sounds like he greatly enjoyed life with you, though. I'm happy to hear you gave him a good home for those few years you had him.

Sarah said...

Well that just made me cry. So sorry to hear about Stella, he was very lucky to have you.. xoxo.

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