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Miskin - Circle of the Sun
(Back to Part I)
(Back to Part II)
(Back to Part III)
May 20, 2016
It's been almost a year and a half since my last update on our new/old cat Miskin, and a bit more than 2-1/2 years since he came back into our lives. And in the last year and a half, Miskin became a bit more assertive at times, pushing his way onto the favored side of my pillow (which meant Tilahun - the other cat who is sleeping on the bed at present) would have to retreat to the other side of the pillow. (It's funny - they never seemed to worry whether or not there was enough room for me....) But he was equally willing to have Charlie move him over so he could snuggle next to Charlie - he mostly just liked to snuggle. ♡
And we did keep him in for a while after his little adventure (see Part III) - but once we stopped closing him in at night, he never showed any interest in wandering far from our yard and the tiny bit of woods next to it. He liked sleeping where it was warm - and eating. He happily ate his food, and almost anything the other cats didn't eat (usually waiting until they walked away - but not always. ☺)
Then, about a month ago, he stopped eating everything in sight, and began to lose weight. We took him in for a check-up - and they found a mass in his lungs. He was about 15 years old and had been FIV-positive since he was a young cat, both of which made the chances of recovery fairly small no matter what we did, so we chose to pamper him. He enjoyed eating a bit of tuna, and little pieces of hamburger (organic, free-range, of course!), and was willing to try most of the semi-liquid cat foods in little pouches, though he generally didn't have more than a spoonful of anything, and often not that much. He had a couple of days where he was pretty shaky, but for the most part, other than eating less and sleeping more, he was pretty much himself, though he appreciated the extra step we added to make it easier for him to come up onto the bed at night.
Charlie's family has a little cottage about a half-hour away, and we usually spend a night there in May, to make sure everything is working, and have a mini getaway - and we had planned to go down on May 12th because it was supposed to be a beautiful warm day - and we decided to take Miskin with us.
So - it's a funny thing. I'm very certain that we packed at least twice as much stuff to go to the cottage for a day as we pack to go to Australia for three weeks - LOL. We had Miskin, his very big litter box, a bag with food he might eat, his fleecy blanket that he uses to sleep on the couch here, one of the pads he uses to sleep on the floor - and my two guitars and Charlie's banjo (because one of the things we like to do at the cottage is sit on the screened-in porch and play music) and food for dinner (because the Osprey Restaurant within walking distance isn't open until later in the month) and enough clothes to handle the fact it might be up into the 70s and down into the 40s.
And it all worked out perfectly. Miskin wasn't thrilled about being put into his carrier (are cats ever?), but once we arrived and let him out, he sniffed around a little, and we showed him where his litter box was - and he promptly used it - and we showed him where his water and food was - and he drank some water, though he was not really big on eating that often. And we put his fleecy blanket on the sofa there, and plopped him on it - and he promptly went to sleep. A little later, when we were on the porch with guitar and banjo, he wandered out, and we put him on the couch there between us, and he looked at us, then pushed his way into my lap, pushing my guitar aside - and I was much happier to cuddle a cat than play guitar, and he didn't mind us singing or Charlie's banjo - and after a bit, he decided that he should go for equal time, so he crossed over to the other side of the couch and pushed Charlie's banjo aside, so he could spend some time in Charlie's lap.
After dinner, we brought him, his litter box, and a couple of food and water bowls upstairs, and showed him where the bed was - and he curled up between us and went to sleep. He did get up every couple of hours (and woke me every time) - and even though we had assembled steps up to the fairly high bed, the first couple of times he took the big leap down to the floor, before visiting his litter box and water bowl - and the first time he came back to the bed, I got up and showed him the steps up, moving him from one to another - and the next time Charlie did that - and the third time he still did the mega-jump down, but made his own way back up the steps - and the fourth time, when it was getting light, he went down the steps as well. We did have a night light - but perhaps not bright enough for him to see the steps.
All things considered, we were very pleased with our experiment. Miskin did not seem stressed, and seemed to enjoy having our full attention - and at the cottage, we have more time for cats and music. We had tried bringing one of the other cats once, and she was spooked, and never seemed to relax, and slept trembling under the covers between our feet - not the sort of happy family experience we had in mind, so we didn't try that again. But Miskin really seemed to enjoy the experience. Or at least the part where he was always our first priority. ♡
He went downhill fairly quickly over the next week, and we were glad we had a tracking device on his collar because he did try to walk as far as his weary legs could carry him into the woods and away from the house, with the instinct inherited from his ancestors to keep predators attracted by his weakened state away from the rest of the pack. By May 19, we knew it was time, and made an appointment to bring him in that afternoon. I spent most of the day out on the lawn with him, reading a book, and watching him take a few shaky steps from time to time as he followed the little patches of sun across the lawn.
Our friend Sally Rogers has a song Circle of the Sun ©1982:
"Babies are born in a circle of the sun, circle of the sun on their birthing day
Babies are born in a circle of the sun, circle of the sun on their birthing day
Clouds to the North, clouds to the South, wind and rain to the East and the West,
But babies are born in a circle of the sun, circle of the sun on their birthing day."
The song continues through other life stages, ending "spread my ashes in a circle of the sun" - and like a lot of songs, for me it works on a lot of levels. Watching Miskin finding comfort in the sunny spots (and sometimes in my lap), I was reminded again that while we only had him for three of his 15 years, he would not have been the affectionate, trusting, snuggling cat he was when he returned to us for his final years if he had not spent a good part of his life surrounded by love and light - a circle of the sun.