Writer’s Workshop: Pepper

Pepper

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a cat, especially if it’s your first. We had had Kismet, aka Kittyface, aka Poo-Poo Kitty (long story) since before we were even married, which by that time was almost twenty years, and she was very skinny, deaf as a doorpost, not eating well, and pretty feeble. I came home one afternoon and Mary was holding her in her lap, crying. She said "I think it’s time we let her go," she said, and I agreed, so we took her to the vet and sent her beautiful soul off to the bridge.

About a week later, Mary said, "let’s go to the pet store and look at the kittens." People would bring strays and litters that they didn’t want to our local place and the owner would find homes for them. The way he worked it, if you bought a bag of food, you got a kitten (if you wanted one). He kept them in a large cage at the front of the store, as a hint to shoppers that yes, he had kittens available.

We got into the store and Mary immediately saw a black-and-white "cow cat," looking adorable at the bottom of the cage. My eyes were drawn to the little gray tabby that was climbing the bars of the cage, trying to get our attention. Well, of course, I fell in love, and after a little finagling, got Mary to agree to take both kittens. The owner of the store cut us a deal: both cats if we bought a large bag of food. We went home with two kittens and a 25 lb. bag of Meow Mix.

Mary named her little guy Mikey. He was kind of a comical little guy, a medium-hair with most of it sticking out all over. I took one look at mine and said, "her coat looks like pepper," so she was named Pepper.

In those days I’d get up at 6 AM and sit at the computer and write for an hour before getting ready and going to work. The first morning Mikey and Pepper lived with us, they both climbed up on my bathrobe and perched themselves on my shoulders, Pepper on my left, Mikey on my right. They did it for the rest of the week.

Unfortunately, Mikey didn’t do so well. One afternoon he was droopy and sluggish and before we knew what had happened he was headed to the bridge. I was shocked and Mary was devastated. For her part, Pepper never came into my office and sat on my shoulder again.

I’ll save the rest of Pepper’s story for later.

28 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Pepper

  1. Oh come on, we need the Pepper story! I wonder what caused Mikey to deteriorate. Sometimes those pet store kitties have hidden little respiratory problems. Poor thing. And poor you and Mary!! Forced to endure another kitty goodbye so soon after Kismet!

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    1. We got home after taking him to the emergency clinic, and about ten minutes later Mary just went to pieces. The vet at the clinic said something about “fading kitten syndrome.” I’m thinking he might not have been weaned properly (if at all).

      I might go off the reservation a little and write part 2 this week…

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  2. I can’t imagine life without pets, but it’s so sad when they go off to the bridge. I’m glad Mikey had you for his short time on earth.

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    1. It’s sad when it happens, but I think you gain your perspective. He was an adorable little guy when he was here, and to this day I have never had a cat who sat on my shoulder like he and Pepper did.

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  3. Some non pet people don’t understand what pets mean to people. They are not really pets but part of the family…with us everyday.

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  4. Hi John – so lovely to read about Pepper … I loved my childhood cats and remember them well … delighted you enjoyed your snuggly cats, as you continue to do so – cheers Hilary

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  5. I’m so sorry, John. I recently lost a rescue kitty that had just had his first birthday. the vet said he may have been born with the disease that killed him.

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    1. It happened 25 years ago. It was sad, but we got over it, and it wasn’t as though we had a shortage of cats around here. Still, thanks… I saw that you had lost a little one… very sorry about that…

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  6. Sweet and sad story, John. Our “fur babies” have such a way of fitting into our lives, most perfectly. They all leave us with great memories and it’s so, so, hard letting them go.

    And, they have a way of telling us that it’s their time and leave us wiping tears away at that bridge.

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    1. I know… we’ve had a lot of cats (I won’t say exactly how many, but it was a lot), and each one was special in its own way, and each one left its little footprints on our hearts.

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  7. We’ve had to say good-bye to so many pets over the years. Cats, kittens, dogs, birds, and even more smaller creatures. It breaks our hearts, but we were blessed to have them for awhile. Their memory lives on in our hearts. ❤

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  8. I am glad you were both there for your pussy cats. Even if Mikey died too young, you gave him a beautiful home. It almost sounds like SIDS but for cats. It is really sad. This morning, my dog, Wallace, had his tumour, on his left leg, break open and blood was everywhere. Last year we had 2 operations on that same spot to remove the cancerous growth but the vet said it would keep coming back and it has. When we called about this tumour, the vet said that Wallace is old now (over 12) and may die on the table but that the skin is too weak now to cover that spot and would always break open plus it would just return in a vengeance. We have to be logical and so, on Monday, my first day at my new job, my hubby will be bringing him in to go across that rainbow bridge. I can’t be with my Wallace because of my job and I am just so sad.

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    1. It was, but we still had Pepper. She had breathing issues that developed about ten years later, but by that time she had raised a kitten (not her own) herself. These things happen, sadly.

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      1. I had a dog called Pepper. She was a heinz variety and my first husband and I took her on when his sister got fed up and dumped her on his parents who couldn’t cope. She was terrified of thunder and wrecked my kitchen tearing the fridge freezer doors apart and exposing wires. She was lucky she didn’t electrocute herself. She was a lovely dog, but so traumatised.

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  9. Oh that is so beautiful!! 😥😪🤗 It’s so difficult to let them go when it is time, because we experience a huge loss and a relationship of trust and love all in one act. I’m so sorry Mikey didn’t thrive, did he contract one of the illnesses that young kittens get which prove lethal? Pepper sounds like she’s been a great companion, even if she never perched on you again. One Christmas we got a puppy – a pure-bred Maltese (little white hairy dog). Within a very short time it became obvious that the puppy was seriously ill (she had Parvo, which is lethal in dogs unless caught really early and even then it’s iffy how well the dog will do going forward). The responsible pet owner gets a yearly vaccine for it. Anyway our little puppy died on December 27th and it broke my mother’s heart. It’s so difficult, but I’m glad you and Mary are Rainbow Bridge believers. I truly think our furry angels wait there for us to join them. (and excuse me, I have to go wipe my eyes). I’ll watch for the rest of Pepper’s story too. Take care John!

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    1. They call it “fading kitten syndrome,” where a kitten is born and sort of fades away. Could have been several reasons for it: he might have been weaned too soon, or he was too young to survive, or, as you say, he might have been ill with any of a thousand ailments. Pepper was not a littermate, as far as we can tell. We took in a pregnant cat about a year later, and after she had her kittens Pepper kind of mothered one of them. She probably would have been just what he needed, if she were older. We have a bunch waiting for us…

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        1. That’s the way it’s been with a couple of ours. On the other hand we took two kittens that were about a month old, worrying constantly that we’d kill both of them inadvertently, and they ended up being the healthiest of them all. Of course, we had a lot of help from Lucy, who was like an Oriental nursemaid (she was part Siamese and barely that much bigger than they were). She knew just how to take care of them. Amazing how instinct works, isn’t it?

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