Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Final Story

I have put this posting off for long enough. Now it's time.

Hawk's life was a hard one. No one knows where it started. Maybe he was someone's cat, maybe he was a stray or feral, but my hope is someone loved him immensely before he came to me.  I know that not to be true however.  I guess the reality is that Hawk's life didn't start until Best Friends pulled him from FLOCK in 2007. What he lived thru there was no life.  He was starved, beaten, more than likely attacked by other cats. Hawk was left sick, hungry, thirsty and alone.  He was thin and sad. He was terrified... as were the other 900+ cats that were inside those hellish gates. But he never gave up.  I have no idea how he survived since so many others were lost in their time at FLOCK, but he pulled thru.  And one day Best Friends showed up. And although there were there to help, he had no use for humans.  Humans were cruel and hurtful, hateful creatures who made him bleed and withheld food and made him sad and angry.  

Hawk held those feelings in for years.  He never would need humans again.  These humans, the ones at Best Friends were kind and gentle and fed him, but he knew better than to trust.  So he lived in rafters high above the floor and watched. For years. He didn't make friends with the other cats that were scared like him. He didn't need anyone or anything. He knew he could count on himself and that was all he needed.  

He knew Mike.  Mike took care of him as best he could.  Mike always left food out and made sure the litter was clean.  Mike always talked up to Hawk, even when he didn't know if he was listening or not.  Mike was kind.  Yet Hawk was too hurt to come around.

Then one day, Mike came to get Hawk.  Hawk was scared and angry.  Mike had a net. Hawk thought Mike wanted to hurt him.  And then Hawk was suddenly in a kennel.  He knew this because he had been in one many times after FLOCK for trips to the vet to get 16 teeth removed due to gum infection and to have multiple treatments for ear mites and eye infections (one so severe that it more than likely left him blind).  Hawk didn't know what was happening to him so he shut down.  

Mike lifted the top of the kennel and reached his hand in. Hawk jumped and cowered in a corner.  But Mike didn't hurt him.  He pet him. Softly.  And Hawk sat frozen, allowing Mike's hands on his coat.  Mike's hands didn't hurt. It actually felt nice.  As Mike pet him he told Hawk that he was going away, on the final leg of his journey, to somewhere call 'home.' 

Hawk may not have known what home was... and maybe he did.  For certain he was scared.  

That day he was whisked away to the Kitty Motel.  After a night there, he was driven to the Las Vegas Airport and put on a plane bound for Wisconsin.  And that's where he met Eve.

Hawk didn't know who Eve was. He was scared, everything was new, everything smelled different, the scenery was new, the people were new... the feeling was new. 

And in a dark room on March 12, 2010, he was let out of his kennel.  There was carpet and soft things and it was warm.  Hawk bravely stepped out, slowly and very low, to look around at his new home:
And under that bed is where Hawk lived.  He slept well and ate when he pleased and at night Hawk sat in the window and talked to the moon.  Maybe he wondered where his rafters were or what happened to Mike or maybe he was saying thank you to the stars.  

Months later, his home changed.  This home was giant compared to his last and there was something else that was new.  Another cat.  She looked just like him. She was young and they called her Bandit.  Hawk wasn't sure about her.  He'd never had friends.  He didn't know what to do with a friend.  But she was kind and sat under the bed with him and licked the top of his head when she saw him. At night Bandit showed him toys and how to get on the counter top to eat butter and what plants were the tastiest.  Most importantly, Bandit showed Hawk how to play.  Hawk never knew what playing was, but the more he practiced, the better it was.  He and Bandit spent their nights, for almost a whole year, running and tackling each other and batting toys and stealing small items from the boy's toybox.  Hawk loved Bandit and Bandit loved him.  They never fought and they were always together.

Hawk was happy.  He ate and gained weight.  He explored at night.  He still talked to the moon when the humans slept and during the day he came out and peeked at the humans that he allowed to be around him.  Slowly within that year he began to come upstairs from the basement and sit while the humans watched TV or chatted with their company.  Sometimes Hawk would sneak behind them and jump on the counter, but most times he would sit perched at the top of the stairs and watch, nodding in and out of sleep.  

Towards the end of the next year, he and his human moved again.  He was back to his old home, the first one with the soft things and the bed.  He still had Bandit and he was still happy, but he was tired.  Hawk started to feel sick often and had trouble making it to the bathroom.  Bandit started taking care of him, very seldom would she leave his side.  He loved her and wanted to play with her, but he wanted to sleep.  He was always tired.  He was losing weight.  Hawk's previous life was starting to catch up to him.  Maybe he knew this and maybe he didn't, but it was around this time that he started trusting the woman who took care of him.  

She was kind and had soft hands, like Mike.  She called him Buddy Cat and told him he was a good boy and a brave boy everyday.  Hawk smelled her hands and then rubbed against them.  And he was happy.  She scratched his head every day.  She sat for hours in the bathroom with him and did her homework and read to him and pet him.  And Hawk purred.  Hawk liked her.  She made him as happy as he made her.  

One day, after being sick while the woman was at work, the woman brought Hawk to the vet.  She left him there.  Hawk was scared that she wouldn't come back.  He wanted her to come back. He wanted to go home again.  The people at the vet were kind and said nice things to Hawk and had soft hands, just like the woman, but he wanted to go home.  They took his blood and gave him x-rays.  Hawk overheard the doctor on the phone with the woman.  The doctor said something about lymphoma and his stomach and a biopsy and incurable.  

Later that day the woman came back. She smiled at Hawk and Hawk was happy.  Soon they were home.  Things were different.  His food had changed and Hawk had to be patient with the woman while she gave him medication twice a day.  At first Hawk hated the medication. It tasted gross and smelled like chicken and it was a liquid and Hawk made a point to drool most of it out.  After awhile, Hawk realized if he took his medication he could sit on the woman's lap and she would pet him.  It was so warm on the woman's lap and she had soft hands.  Sometimes she cried but most of the time she smiled at him and told him how proud she was of him. 

This went on for months. Medications twice a day, different food, and Hawk still felt sick.  He tried to make it to his litter box, but often could not.  The woman made him a giant soft bed in the bathroom with a large fleece blanket that Hawk loved.  He knew just how to claw at the blanket so he could lay under it.  He was thin and still losing weight.  He was cold and the blanket kept him warm.  

Every morning the woman would come in to give him his medication and shower and she always took time to pet him.  She would scratch his head to wake him and he would always stand up and stretch.  Sometimes he would fall over.  His hind legs were often stiff and weak.  But he knew the woman would cry when he would fall so Hawk always made sure to stand tall and be strong, often leaning on the wall for support.  And then the pets would come.  Hawk purred loudly as the woman scratched his head and behind his ears.  She always removed the hair from him and tried to get the mats free from his fur.  Hawk had stopped cleaning himself when he was in FLOCK.  It wasn't necessary to him and the mats made the kicks from the human's boots hurt less. Every morning the woman would pet him and every morning Hawk would stare up at her making his eyes as big as he could.  Hawk's eyes were grateful. Hawk loved the woman's soft hands and the fact that she gave him new soft blankets every morning and looked forward to the pets every day.  

One morning, Hawk felt different.  He took his medication without a fight. He felt tired and couldn't get to his feet when the woman pet him.  The woman cried and told him to get comfortable.   The woman picked him up and changed his blankets.  Hawk didn't mind.  He had let the woman pick him up before.  Her arms were soft and she always held him close.  Still he curled into a ball, but he was always comfortable. 

 Today felt different though.  Hawk laid and purred as the woman pet him and cried.  The woman told him that she loved him very very much.  Although Hawk couldn't stand to make the woman not cry, he looked up at her.  She smiled and Hawk sighed.  Hawk loved her as much as she loved him.  

The woman left for work that day.  It was a lovely day and the woman had left the window open a crack for fresh air.   Hawk loved fresh air.  Sometimes he would hop to the counter and up into the window to smell the smells and watch the birds pull worms in the yard.  

Hawk decided that he would do just that.  The air smelled so good and he could hear the chips and songs of the birds.  In the window Hawk sat; the December breeze on his face, the sounds of outside ringing in his ears.  And as he smelled, everything went black. 

Hours later the woman came home.  Excited to see Hawk, she ran upstairs to the bathroom.  She opened the door and stopped.  Falling to her knees, the woman began to cry uncontrollably.  There Hawk lay, cold and stiff beneath the window.  The woman didn't know what to do. She couldn't think, only that this wasn't real, it wasn't fair, this couldn't be happening. It hadn't been but almost two years, he was sick but she was treating him and he was happy, he was just beginning to come around.  This wasn't right, it wasn't true, he wasn't dead. 

Later that evening, the woman took Hawk to the animal hospital.  The nurses showed her to a room and spoke with her about what would happen.  Then they left.  The woman stood next to the counter, sobbing and petting Hawk.  Maybe Hawk could see her as she cried and told him how sorry she was for not being there. Maybe he heard her tell him a thousand times over how much she loved him and how proud she was of him for being so brave every day and trying so hard.  Maybe he imagined how it felt when she kissed him over and over.  

Hawk's journey was over.  

When I brought Hawk home I knew that there would be struggles.  Medically he would have problems.  Emotionally he would take awhile to come around.  In knowing all of that, I tried my best to be patient and go at his speed.  I knew that years could pass before he let me touch him.  I thought it would be years I would get to spend with him.  But that turned out not to be true.  I was only given a year and ten months with Hawk.  I say only because it was too soon for him to go, but in reality, in that year and ten months, he made more progress with his humans than I had ever expected he would.  He allowed himself to trust.  He allowed those around him to be kind to him.  He expected nothing from us, but gave us everything he could.  He was incredibly brave.  He was kind, tolerant, patient, and most importantly he was happy and loved.

I've "met" a number of people throughout this journey.   People like Don Amiet, Linda Borcher and Martha Hutchinson.  People like Mike and Lynn Dolan from Best Friends.  The kind folks from Cloquet that drove down to do my pre-adoption home inspection and not to mention all of you who follow and comment on this blog.  Hawk had so many people pulling for him.  He had a team of people that adored him and were so happy that he found his forever home.  I want to say thank you to all of you.  You have been so kind and generous throughout this journey.  I told Hawk everyday how much you all loved him. 

It's taken me almost five months to write this blog entry.  I couldn't find the words and I didn't want to admit that it was true and that he was gone, but it's time. 

I had Hawk cremated and his ashes sit on my desk in an oak box with a photo of him on the top.  The Superior Animal hospital framed an inking of his paw print for me and from that frame hangs his collar.  He will always be close and that gives me some comfort.  

I try not to be angry about FLOCK or the judicial system that failed to prosecute those responsible for what they did to those 900+ cats, but I find it difficult.  Hawk wasn't wrong in believing that humans can be nasty, hurtful creatures, but  I did my damndest to change his mind about at least one.  And towards the end, I believe that he knew that there was such a thing as kindness, love and respect.  

To those that allowed and propagated what went on at FLOCK, I hold nothing but disdain for you.  Your cruelty and lack of compassion (or any emotion other than hate) lead to the deaths of at least 700 cats, mine being one.  I hope that your actions stay with you for the rest of your life.  

To the judicial system that failed these animals, I am ashamed.  Those responsible need  to be held accountable for their actions and I will not stop campaigning until it is so. 

To Best Friends and their amazing staff, I am forever grateful for your intervention in the FLOCK situation, the creation of The Great Kitty Rescue (here and here) that saved the lives of so many cats.  

To Lynn Dolan, thank you for always being there for me with questions and for crying with me at the beginning and end of this journey.  

To Mike, please know that Hawk loved you very much.  I still remember you calling as I was on my way to the airport to pick him up (damn those timezone differences).

To Linda, Martha, and Don, you guys are amazing.  You never stopped checking in, you always had kind and supportive words and you offered above and beyond when Hawk fell ill.   Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

And finally, to Hawk. I will miss you always and  I will love you forever.  I hope you're playing wherever you are and I hope you're happy.  

In closing, this blog has come to its zenith.  March 12, 2012 would have been two years that Hawk was brought to his forever home.  Although it still hurts that he isn't here, I am honored to have given him a chance to be the cat he was always meant to be.  

This photo was taken the morning that Hawk died.  It is the last photo that I will post on this blog.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Still Kickin'

I have been bad about keeping up on Hawk's life despite his major progress in the past few months.  There have, however, been some recent issues that have arisen with him.  Although Hawk is living in the lap of luxury now, he has obviously had a tough go in life (to say the very least).

His weigh has decreased rapidly in the past month or so and he's noticeably tired.  When I found blood in his litter box, I knew it was time for him to go in.  Luckily, he is more accepting of human hands and has grown to be tolerant of being picked up, held, and pet.  A lot of you Best Friends folks will remember  this milestone moment:

And he hardly hated it! The trip to the vet, on the other hand, was pretty rough on him.  

Hawk spent the day getting x-rays and full blood work-ups and pokes and prods.  Dr. Severs ruleed out any kind of parasites and couldn't find any indication of intestinal blockage. She called me this afternoon to tell me that Hawk's thyroid tests came back only slightly elevated which is apparently normal if an animal is sick or not feeling well. 

Then the conversation turned to what it could possibly be and there are two options at this point : irritable bowel syndrome or some type of intestinal cancer, more than likely lymphoma. 
Yes. Lymphoma. 

There is a world of difference between discussing other people's cancer and a cancer that (could now possibly) be in your home.  My heart sank.  I know Best Friends is losing these Pahrump cats on a daily basis (quite a few in the last month, actually).  And I also knew when I decided to adopt him that I would be up to my eyeballs in vet bills someday.  The key is someday. Not a year and some later. Not when he's finally started to come around and grow to be a "normal" cat. Not this soon.  

At this point, it could be either ailment, but in reality, it's bad either way.  Dr. Severs thinks he may be older than he actually is, but it could also just be his past trauma aging his body at a rapid rate.  In any event, I was left to make a decision of what road of treatment would be the best for him to take: a smattering of liquids that were to be administered twice daily for a few months or a biopsy of his intestine that would rule out the threat of cancer.  Unfortunately, the Superior Animal Hospital, despite its newness, doesn't have the option of an endoscopy to preform the biopsy which means that they would proper put him under and cut in through his abdomen.  The problem with this (aside for the glaring invasiveness) is that I've never known Hawk to be big on grooming himself.  There was an incident a month or so ago that we were forced to semi-sedate him and spend hours cutting mats off of him.  Some cats groom, some don't and Hawk falls in the "not so much" category.  Taking the grooming issue into consideration and adding an open wound, such as an incision from a surgery, is asking for an infection.  An infection on top of his current mystery illness is a death warrant.  

So where it stands now is I'm $500 in the hole and Hawk is on three different prescriptions that I have to give to him twice daily for the next month or so.  I'm adamantly opposed to a biopsy at this point because I'm hoping (with every fiber of my being) that these medications will help him gain back the weight he's lost and get him back in fighting shape.  

The silver lining to this story? He is been an absolute trooper throughout this whole ordeal.  ....Except for the first time I had to give him his antibiotics. He refused to swallow them and sat staring at me with a fire of defiance in his eyes while he drooled every last drop of his medication out of the corners of his mouth.  No lie, he looked like Hooch, from Turner and Hooch. And thanks to copyrights, I am unable to link the famous drool scene from that film, but I think this is probably closer. 

Finally, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who already knew this news and contacted me asking if I needed help financially.  I am overwhelmed by your continued support - without boundaries- in Hawk's journey. Thank you. Thank you so much. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Butter Burglar

Apparently the thief in the night wasn't our little Bandit. Hawk proved that he is food motivated... or condiment motivated? He also is conveinently deaf, so he's got that going for him ...

Proof. It's . . . on the counter. . . ? Just watch.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The holidays have been insane. Now that all the activity in the house is starting to slow back down to the norm, Hawk decided that he can start stretching his legs in new areas of the house.  Lately he has taken a shine to a cozy spot in between the furnace and his litter box.  It must be worth sleeping next to the litter box because he is there constantly.  But he surprised me today.  I came home to little Mister sound asleep in the chair that sits at my computer desk. We sat across from each other for about an hour until he fell asleep (and so did I).  He decided enough was enough when I reached for the remote to watch the news.  Apparently Hawk hates the news...

And don't worry- he's still rocking the pirate eye...

I hope everyone had a happy holiday and I promise to get better at keeping you all updated on Hawk's first year in his new home.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


As mentioned in previous posts, Hawk's new-found love of following me from room to room often leads to awkward encounters.  Don't worry, he quickly assumes the 'safety position' within a few seconds of realizing I am there:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Come out and Play!

I've gotten in the habit of grabbing my camera when I head downstairs, especially after work.  Hawk loves his afternoons full of sunlight and naps.  
After I snapped a few not  interesting photos I filled up their food bowl (because if they can see the bottom then it is automatically grounds for lots of meowing and fake fainting spells).  Hawk has gotten in the habit of coming out and peeking, but this usually happens when I'm filling the food dish.
As you can see, he is NOT starving.  He just thinks he is sometimes (especially compared to Bandit. . .).  Unfortunately the minute I tried to get closer Hawk ran.  

FUN STORY: When Hawk runs, Bandit assumes that he's playing.  This only makes Hawk run faster and poor Bandit just doesn't get it.  Hawk runs to hide and Bandit assumes that he is hiding to ambush her.  Here's right before Bandit tackled Hawk:
I imagine that Hawk would be Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Bandit is Cato.  

 (At 3:21)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Anti-Early Morning Ritual Sit-in.

We're not sure how well Hawk hears yet.  Sometimes it seems like he hears everything and sometimes it appears that he just doesn't hear anything.  I have some theories about selective hearing (just like another black and white cat that shall remain nameless...), but in general it feels like we're doing a lot of sneaking up on little Hawk.  Maybe it's because he is starting to venture out more so we're having more encounters with him.  There have been numerous times where I have walked into the hallway or the bedroom and he's out and about, doing his own thing, completely oblivious to my presence.  Naturally this ends in a slow realization that someone is there watching him and a flash of black disappearing under the bed.

Whether his hearing is up to par or not, he's started to shadow me when I'm downstairs.  This is poor decision making on his part because if I walk into a room and he walks in behind me he is always startled when I turn around to exit the room.  However, he is tenacious and will follow, freak and repeat until I grow tired of scaring the hell out of him and retreat upstairs.  There's that old saying "curiosity killed the cat," but I'm not willing to test the health of his little kitty heart.

As much as I believe that his hearing is poor, I find that I seem to wake Hawk up every morning with the noise I make (I am far from graceful at 5am, trust me).

Fun Hawk Fact: He is NOT a morning cat. 

This doesn't surprise me since he and Bandit are up running the stairs, climbing the laundry rack, taking hits off the cat nip sock, and doing God knows what in general between the hours of 10pm and 4am.  So it seems to make sense that Hawk is irritated with noises being made when he's trying to sleep.  I wish I knew what it was like to be almost asleep and be bombarded with the noisiest of noises. . .  I wonder if he dreams of selling me to a carnival just like I did that one time he and Bandit were in the middle of a highly involved game of "chase me, chase me" and Bandit tricked him into jumping up onto the bed while I was in it, nearly asleep.  I felt his moment of realization of where he was when he dug his claws into my calves and catapulted off the bed using his new-found footing as grips.  Precious little creature. . .

Anyway, Hawk isn't a morning cat and doesn't appreciate being disturbed and shows me by coming out and hunkering down in the doorway to the bedroom.  This new daily occurrence looks something like this:
The tiniest of grumpy morning faces leering away from the bright light of the bathroom in a most annoyed fashion, Hawk sits patiently and watches me get ready for work so he can get back to sleep.  Really, he must be tired from being up all night.  I don't know how he couldn't be because I'M tired from him being up all night.   And even though I say good morning to him, I usually get this is response:
He does not seem to appreciate my getting up at 5am Monday through Friday.  These little silent kitten protests are not in vain, however.  Bandit (the brainless follower) is on board with Hawk's anti-early morning ritual sit in:

Four little sleepy eyes (three if you don't want to count Hawk's pirate eye) sleepily look at me as if to say "What in the HELL lady?! C'mon!" 

Unfortunately, my boss won't allow me to create a work schedule that revolves around the wishes of my cats (which I think is ridiculous!), so Hawk's going to have to get used to it. Sorry buddy cat!