Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lava Bean

About 5 years ago, I saw my husband with a kitten for the first time. It was a little stray that ended up being my brother and sister-in-law's cat. I honestly felt like I'd never seen Luke love anything like he loved this little kitten. I immediately thought, "I have to make him this happy all the time."

It was shortly before Christmas and I realized that the perfect gift would be to get a cat for Luke. We were engaged and not living together so I decided that I'd get him a cat that could stay at my apartment until we got married.

I spent the next few days going back and forth to the local Humane Society in search of the perfect cat for Luke. I was hauling myself over there on my lunch breaks (I have never been good at just waiting until the appropriate time when I get an idea in my head - I must do it RIGHT THEN) and leaving work immediately when I got off to see if any kittens had been brought in.

On one of those trips, I walked into the Humane Society and a new litter of kittens had just been dropped off. There were a ton of people there for the holidays, but I found a worker and she told me I could hold one.

I selected an orange tabby and found a windowsill to sit on in a little hallway. I cupped my hands together and held this little kitten right there, knowing that this was the one for us. He was just really lovable and so content sitting there in my hands. It just seemed like a good fit.

I started to go through the procedure of adopting him. I had to wait a few days before I picked him up and I spent that time getting everything I needed to house a kitten.

(Keep in mind that I think we set our Christmas gift budget at $100.00. I think I spent $120.00 on a carrier/litterbox/toys alone. You might say I went overboard.)

So when I went to pick him up, I told the worker at the Humane Society which cat I was there for (I believe at the time his name was Prancer or Vixen or something like that since it was the holidays) and they brought him out. And when the lady handed him over to me, she said, "ohhhh...he didn't want to leave his sister."

You know what happened.

This little boy cat (right) and his little sister (left) came into our lives and we (correction: LUKE) named them Lava and Magma. I called them Lava Bean and Magma Girl. To say we immediately became obsessed with these cats is an understatement.

I've often said that if loving children is even better than loving cats, then I can't even imagine that kind of love.

Luke's often said that he doesn't think he'll ever love children as much as we've loved our cats.

Like I said, obsessed.

What made Lava and Magma so special is not just that they were the best little pets, but that they were the first things that were really ours. Mine and Luke's together. We loved loving on the cats together and we loved sending pictures of them to each other and we loved bragging about how awesome they were to anyone who would listen.

Lava and Magma lived with me in my first apartment and then they moved with me into the condo that Luke and I lived in when we were married. Two years later, we moved from our condo into my parents' house. Two months later, we moved into our first home. The cats were with us during every move. Constant little companions to us during each change in our lives.

Yesterday, we had to put Lava down. About eight months ago, we found out that he had an autoimmune disease called pemphigus. We spent the time between then and now going back and forth to the vet, trying different antibiotics and steroids in an attempt to keep him alive. He would get better for the first week or so of each new treatment and we would get really really hopeful, and then he'd just get worse again. Sores would show up on his nose, around his mouth, inside his ears, between his toes.

Last week I was gone for a week. I came back and within a day, Lava had sores all over his face and ears and so we called to make an appointment with the vet to get his steriod shot.

I put Lava in the car to take him into the vet. He immediately peed all over his crate. When we got him in the vet's office and he was weighed, he was down a little bit. I knew that both of these were bad signs and when the vet's assistant left the room, tears filled my eyes. Something in me knew that it was time to make a hard decision and I had already started to come to terms with that.

The vet came in. He was the same vet that had been seeing Lava the whole time. He was sympathetic to our situation and had tried to make decisions throughout the process that would help Lava. He looked at my little cat and asked a few questions and then become silent for what seemed like forever. I knew that he was figuring out a way to delicately say that it was time.

I started crying and I have no clue what I said during our conversation, but I do remember that I told him I felt guilty putting a not yet 5 year old cat down because of a skin condition. And then the vet told me that we've faught hard for Lava and that the fact that we felt guilty showed how much we loved him. And then he told me what I needed to hear - that making the decision to put Lava down was a perfectly acceptable and understandable choice at this point.

I asked the vet if we were able to do it right then. I knew that dragging it out would be too much. I called Luke and told him that I felt like it was time. He came right up to the vet.

We cried as I held Lava in the cradling position that I always held him in. Even though I thought I wanted to hold him until he was gone, in the end, we asked the vet if we could just go and if he would hold him until he passed. Then Luke and I left and went and cried in the bathroom of the vet's office together.

Lava was a great cat. He was so cuddly and so sweet and even our friends that didn't like cats said that our cats were different. Lava would cradle himself in my arm at night as I slept and he would always let me hold him for as long as I wanted (his sister lets me hold her for as long as she wants :)).

This is the last photo I took of Lava. It was two days ago and was actually a photo I snapped to send to my mom so she could see the pillows I got for our window seat. This is where Lava spent most of his time the last few months of his life. He wasn't himself and it always made me sad when I would stop to pet him as he laid in this room. I knew things were coming to an end.

Naturally, my mom commented that she liked the cat shaped pillow the best.
But I won't remember Lava for how he was at the end of his life. Instead, I'll remember him like he is in the picture below. Our first little pet together. So lovable. So sweet. So affectionate.

We're sad, but I know we'll move on. I understand that Lava was "just a cat," but I also think any pet owner knows that that's not really true. You open your hearts and you love these pets and they become a part of your life - a part of your story. Lava brought unbelieveable joy to our lives. So much more than I would have ever expected when I held him in my hands that day at the Humane Society.

We'll never have another cat just like Lava, but as my mom told me last night, we'll have another cat that we love just as much as we loved Lava. Until then, we'll keep loving on his sister, as long as she'll let us hold her. :)


  1. (please note this is the fourth time I've tried to submit this comment - recreating it from scratch each time!! Tech fail!)

    A blessing in disguise that you brought home two cats that day instead of one.

    I can still remember my mom calling to tell me that they wouldn't be able to keep our cat, Tiger, anymore what with moving and a lot of uncertainties in their life at the time. Unfortunately, I was in no place to take him. I never really got to say goodbye.

    I said a little prayer for you, that you would be comforted, and that Magma would be as sweet and lovable as ever for as long as you need her to be. Wish I could give you a hug!!

    1. Don't you miss the days of walking out of your dorm room and instantly being able to find about 20 girls to hug? :) Thanks so much, Brooke. It has been really helpful to know that others understand that it is a hard thing to go through. :)

  2. So sorry for your loss... I understand how it is. Pets are part of our family, so it is understandable we are sad when we lose them. I lost a puppy about 5 years ago and it took me a long time before I could even walk past the dog food aisle in Target with out crying.

    Hang in there. God bless you both. I'm sure his sister misses him too. Love yas.

    1. Thanks, Annette. Oddly enough, Luke and I went to get Magma a new toy today in Target and couldn't look at the cat picture on the wall because it looked too much like Lava. :)

  3. Oh Lava Bean Haddad, you will be missed. Also, your pillows look fabulous :)

    1. Not Chicago fabulous, but Canton fabulous. :)

  4. Bawling my eyes out reading your sweet post!! Animal lovers unite!

    1. Yes, I've been so thankful that so many friends and family could understand because they love their own little animals, too. :)