naamah_darling: Sepia picture of Heath Ledger from A Knight's Tale with the words "I Miss You." (Heath Miss You)
[personal profile] naamah_darling
Tazendra. The Mocus. Stinker. Pantaloons. Circus Ape. Gorilla Lips. The Creature Known As "the Mocator."

I lost her two years ago last night, and it's still like hitting that missing stair on the way down every single time.

Long before she died, I made the decision to have her bones professionally cleaned and prepared, and I made the arrangements with Skulls Unlimited some time in advance. They did a good job.

It wasn't a decision I came to lightly. I'm not a stranger to pet loss. I've had something like 25 cats in my life, and all but four of those are gone now. The one unifying thread of regret is that I have nothing of any of them but pictures. I didn't want that to be the case with her.

Now I have her bones in a box near where I sleep, where I can reach her, and that's comforting.

I've meant to get some good photographs of her for a while now, and yesterday seemed a good time. I think the results came out well, and I'm willing to let them stand for the time being as final portraits. I'm aware some people find it disturbing, which I do understand, so the squeamish among you may want to turn aside. No hard feelings.

In the meantime, a picture of her with her fur on:

Tazendra Sepia 01

Tazendra 01

Tazendra 08

Tazendra 07

Tazendra 06

Tazendra 02

Tazendra 03

Tazendra 04

Tazendra 05

The people who worked on her commented that she had beautiful bones, very clean, with no hint of arthritis, and looking at them, I can see that it's true. That came as a relief. Cats are so stoic. I'd been afraid that she was hiding some sort of pain. She wasn't, apparently. She lived happy, she was never in discomfort or pain. She went fast, and without warning, and there was no slow decline. It was as good as such things can be, and it was more or less what I would have wanted for her, if one can be said to want such a thing at all.

All cats have lovely skulls -- big cats and small, feline skulls are my favorite hands-down -- but hers is especially pretty. I have three or four others and there's no comparison. I'll take comparison pictures someday, but not today.

I am struck by the texturing around her eyes and on the sides of the brain case, in contrast to how smooth the bone is on her forehead and nose. Those are things you see in older animals, so it's not surprising, but it is beautiful. Her nose is surprisingly broad, though. Not surprising, either, since you can see even in the pictures of her alive that her muzzle was pretty wide, especially for a petite girl kitty.

I do love that first pic of her in my hands. It makes me happy.

But, really, this is how I remember her best:

Dey Had Teef Like Dif

I have never stopped laughing like a dumbass over that picture, and a 9x12 copy of it sits next to her box. She was beautiful, in her cockeyed goblin way, but she was also a ridiculous moldy pajama bag of a cat with a heart brim-full of loathing for all living beings save myself. She was consistently one of the best and most hilarious things in my life.

I've had a couple of people ask, over the past two years, but yes, those of you who see me IRL are welcome to visit her wee little bones anytime. I don't mind at all.

Anyway, questions welcome, if you have them. It's not a subject I'm touchy about at all, so it won't bother me.

Thank you, by the way. You guys have been lovely about it since she went, and I appreciate all the sympathy more than I can say.

I can honestly say, all of the other cats I've had were, in comparison to her, "just cats." She was something else entirely.

Date: 2013-03-16 09:14 pm (UTC)
jackandahat: A brown otter, no text. (Plain Otter)
From: [personal profile] jackandahat
Is it appropriate to say the pictures of her bones are beautiful? Because that was my first response.

Date: 2013-03-17 05:18 pm (UTC)
bkwyrm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bkwyrm
She was lovely - both alive and otherwise.
I've lost cats as an adult - my childhood cat was really more my mother's cat, and when my mom died, the cat just hissed at everyone until she died of old age. And spite.
I carried around the ashes of three cats (all black with gold eyes, btw, as all my cats have been) until I was able to sneak into the panther enclosure at a zoo while it was being cleaned (sister in law is a vet, but it was still tricky) and spread their ashes under a bush. Since most of the cats were convinced they were actually very fierce predators, I figured they'd enjoy being among their kin.
Our 17 year old cat has been on a slow decline over the last four years. I don't know if he's happy, I don't know anything other than I take him to see my sister in law and she gives him medication for his pacreas problems and IBS and it helps. The younger cat hates the children, and I've thought about finding her a new home, but now that the kids are older she objects to them...slightly less.
Edited Date: 2013-03-17 05:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-03-18 02:59 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Those photos are beautiful. I'm particularly touched by last one, your hands cradling her skull.

Date: 2013-03-16 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know, I don't even think this procedure is even available where I live, because I'm pretty sure that here in Italy we're only allowed to cremate animals and keep their ashes if we want to. There's a firm in my city that does that and manages a pet cemetery, but I'd rather have the ashes myself.
I recently took home the sweetest cat I've ever owned, a rescue black&white lady cat, and she's the first pet who's only mine, because the other two cats were family cats from I was kid/still lived with my parents. It breaks my heart to think about what to do when she passes away, moreso because she's a new cat and still a young adult, but the sensible thing to do is to give this matter a lot of thought before the time comes and you're too distraught to plan anything.

PS if you're curious about the kitty, you can see her pics on DW

Date: 2013-03-16 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope you have many more years with your kitty! I just went and looked at pics and she is lovely, and that is the cutest name. :D

It's legal here to keep animal parts, but it's not common at all. I only was able to do it because I live less than two hours away from the osteological museum that does it, and was able to physically drive her there and then go and retrieve her. Even then, I had to pay a hazardous materials processing fee for it, both for the chemicals used to de-grease the bones and for the incineration of the non-bone remains. Hunters and taxidermists do this kind of thing for hunting trophies in the backyard, and that's perfectly legal, hobbyists do it for pets and for animals they find dead on the road. Universities and so on do it all the time, as well. It's just not common for regular folks, most of whom aren't even aware that it's a thing that can be done -- and who would think it's gross to do it anyway. (Because, honestly, the process is preeeeeeeetty gross if you do it the way most people do.)

I know that by law you aren't allowed to bury pets in the backyard, here, but flippin' everybody does it. The only other option is letting the vet dispose of them or calling a cremation service, and it costs to get the ashes back. Or doing what I did, but most people aren't going to go that route. It's pretty expensive, or you have to do it yourself, and it's messy, smelly work.

It seems odd to me that you can keep domestic animal parts when you aren't allowed to *bury* them, and when most taxidermists won't come within a mile of a pet, but nobody ever said laws had to make sense. :/

Date: 2013-03-17 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know that by law you aren't allowed to bury pets in the backyard, here, but flippin' everybody does it.

This happens here as well, sometimes even vets ask you if you have someplace to bury your pets, I know it happened with both of my former cats, who had to be euthanized. But yeah, it's definitely forbidden. I believe cremation services for pets are still rare (though they're rapidly growing in number), even human cremation services are just starting to become widely accepted over here, for religious reasons: the Catholic church didn't allow it, now it does but with "reservation", and privileges the "regular burial", so to speak. I could really go on a tangent about how this is incredibly backwards and idiotic, so I'll stop here. Italian law, though, is becoming more and more open to all of the possibilities of cremation, including keeping the ashes at home or dispersing them in a list of specific places, practices that were forbidden a few years ago.

Date: 2013-03-16 07:49 pm (UTC)
ashbet: (Lacrimosa 2)
From: [personal profile] ashbet
She is, and was, beautiful. I'm glad that you have her with you still, and that she gives you comfort.

I don't think it's morbid or gruesome or anything else -- I am comfortable with skulls and bones, I know that death is part of life, and I can completely understand wanting to have her mortal remains close to you. Frankly, I think we've gone too far away from having family crypts that we visit and decorate, you know?

I'm happy that you have something tangible to touch and hold when you are missing her. And she is truly lovely. It's also good to know that she didn't have arthritis or bone degeneration, because, as you said, it does your heart good to know that she wasn't hiding pain.

**loving hugs**


Date: 2013-03-16 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was a serious fear of mine that she was hurting and we didn't know it. I am pleased as can be that apparently she really, truly never suffered, except maybe for that last tiny little while, and we took care of that literally as quickly as it was possible to do, once we realized she wasn't coming out of the seizure. So I feel about as good about it as one can feel. I don't feel like I failed her or screwed up. And that's a blessing.

I am glad to have her around, still. Lovely beast.

Date: 2013-03-16 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She was stinky and cranky and I loved her, anyway, as I would love any of my friend's kids. I was glad I got the chance to know her, as much as she let anyone know her. Kind of like you in that. And you both let me pet you, and that's a good thing.

She's still beautiful.

Date: 2013-03-16 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In retrospect, with Smooch around? I cannot believe I ever thought she was smelly and fucked-up looking. *laughs* HE REDEFINES THOSE THINGS.

She was a weird little gremlin, and I'm glad you got to meet her. I'd say something flattering and kind like "She liked you," but unfortunately, she was horrible and hated people. Whenever she'd accidentally show affection to someone else, she'd always act vaguely embarrassed and disgusted with herself. She was so hilariously awful.

And yes, I think she is lovely still, very much. She has, seriously, the prettiest little long bones you ever saw. She was a dainty thing under all that stinky fur.

Date: 2013-03-16 08:15 pm (UTC)
ext_17983: Photo of an orange tabby curled up and half asleep (I should have been born a cat)
From: [identity profile]
This is not something that I think I would do (but I'm not sure—my cat, my one true soul-bonded cat, is just over two years old and with the best of luck I don't have to think about her death for a good long time), but it is so beautiful and so very you that it honestly makes me teary-eyed. It's a fantastic and active memorial—no more gruesome than keeping ashes, but perfectly suited to how you interact with and appreciate bodies and death. I'm glad for the chance to see these pictures. Thank you.

Date: 2013-03-16 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope you have lots more time with your baby. Good time! It's a tough decision, what to do, and we have to make it, since they aren't people who can express a preference for such things. It depends very much on the owner and on the cat. I can't say that I'd make the same choice about any of the others, not for sure. (Well, Smooch, because he's such a unique animal and will have a really interesting skull.)

It's a fantastic and active memorial

Yes. I like that.

It's not as clean or quick a process as cremation, to be sure, but it leaves something I can interact with and look at and hold, and it's faster and cleaner and was less disturbing to contemplate than simply burying her and letting nature take FOREVER to break everything down . . . and . . . I just . . .

Okay, the thought of her being out in the back yard, when she was an indoor cat NEVER IN HER LIFE further than a stone's throw from me when I was in the house, that was heartbreaking and unacceptable, and I still can't tolerate even the thought of it. The idea of burying her and then moving away from this house? Just . . . NOPE. Leaving her out there with the weather and the strange animals and the big, open, scary sky? Any other cat, maybe, yeah, sure, back to the earth, but . . . not her. That's sooooo not what she would've wanted, if she had been able to care about any such thing. I made the absolute right choice for me personally, and I've known that since I gave her up to the vet to keep for me until I could make arrangements.

It's a thing I did with great respect, knowing exactly what I was turning her over to, and I don't feel bad about it in the least. I'm glad people seem to be getting that it's coming from a place of love.

Date: 2013-03-16 10:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-03-16 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Those pictures of her skull are beautiful. And that picture at the end just screams "I are fierce kitty too! See my fangs?"

Date: 2013-03-16 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you.

I still think that's the best picture of her I ever took. That was, indeed, her FIERCE KITTY face. She was about to attack a feather I had in my other hand.

Date: 2013-03-17 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL! It's adorable.

Date: 2013-03-17 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is so beautiful! (and what I plan to do to my monsters when they shuffle off this mortal coil) She truly does have a gorgeous skull. so dainty and lady like :)

Date: 2013-03-17 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's really cool. I'm glad not to be the only one.

She was a petite little thing. Her bones are so tiny!

Date: 2013-03-17 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just have to say, that is the most wonderful cat picture that I have ever seen. "Oh, you like teeth? Here ya go!"

Date: 2013-03-17 05:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Isn't that the best picture? I adore it. ADORE. I saw it on the camera checking through the shots and laughed so hard I almost dropped the thing on the tile floor. Like, I had tears in my eyes, I laughed so hard. It just struck me funny, and still does, and I don't know if anyone will ever think it's as utterly hilarious as I do.

She was SO GOOFY sometimes.

Date: 2013-03-17 02:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So lovely, in life and death.

I lost my beloved Nyx kitty two months ago, it was sudden and unexpected and it just about broke my heart. I didn't have the option to do anything to her bones, so I did the next best thing so that she is always with me, I had her cremated and I keep her ashes near me on my table and a little bit in a locket around my neck. I was criticised by people for wasting money on 'just a cat'.

She was not and never will be 'just a cat' to me. I still wake up nights and put my hand out, you can't break 13 years of night petting habits so quickly, and it kills me when I reach out and she's not there.

Date: 2013-03-17 05:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All my sympathy, truly. I obviously know the feeling.

I used to sleep with an arm thrown out and, most often, a furry kitty on or under my hand. One of my sharpest memories of her is of the night before she died, when I was restless and uncomfortable, and rolled over, and she just kind of went "SIGH." and got up and switched sides and put herself under my other hand, like "Stupid human. Just GO TO SLEEP so I can go lick my butt in peace." Affectionate exasperation while putting the child to bed, you know. She took good care of me, and not having her there at night was and is a terrible, terrible thing. A friend sent me a stuffed plushie sheep a few months ago, and it's super-soft and squishy, and now Sheeples sits where she tended to sleep. It's partly solved the problem of what I call "lonely hands." Nowhere near the same, but it gives me something to scrunch in my fingers that's really agreeable in its own way.

The other option I considered was to have her ashes made into a diamond, but that's more expensive, and didn't appeal as much. I am sorry you were criticized for taking care of your baby in the way that was best for you. People can be such insensitive dickholes sometimes. I am glad you have her remains near to you. <3

I've thought about taking one of her bones, a toe bone or something, and having it put in a ring or earring or made into a pendant or something, so I could wear her near me, but I wouldn't want her little bones to be damaged, so I haven't yet thought of a way to do that that seems sturdy enough to me. (I am super hard on jewelry.)

Date: 2013-03-23 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think this way of honoring her remains is perfect for you and her and your relationship. We buried one cat outside, but he had been an outdoor cat and always wanted to be again. The others? Cremated, and we have various sets of ashes around.

Probably the best way for jewelry would be to embed them in a clear resin. An advantage is that if the resin does get scratched up, it can almost certainly be re-polished, or even dissolved off the bones and re-done (I'm pretty sure, but I'd test it with a chicken bone or something first). I know people have done some amazing work with really clear resins; I'm not sure what equipment one needs to get the really crystal ones to work right.

Also, pendants and earrings get a LOT less hard wear than rings and bracelets.

Date: 2013-03-23 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Resin hadn't occurred to me! Hmmmmm. An acetone-soluble resin would work, since that won't harm bones.

Date: 2013-03-23 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think most resins are acetone-soluble. I wasn't sure if acetone would affect bones, though. Obviously, one would want to try a sample of the resin and dissolving it, and soak a chicken bone or something in it, before doing anything with special bones... but I've seen some GORGEOUS work with stuff embedded in resin- one woman does line art using HAIR, for heaven's sake!- and I just thought it could be both protective AND expressive.

(I love trying to solve technical problems!)

Date: 2013-03-23 09:01 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-03-17 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She is still beautiful. {{{hugs}}}

Date: 2013-03-17 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She is. *purrs* Thank you.

Date: 2013-03-17 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow! What a lovely little skull she had!
I wish I'd thought of looking into doing this for Uura. Damn.

Date: 2013-03-17 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Isn't it adorable? In its sad and quiet little way, yes, but very, very cute. Her other bones are really cute, too. It seems kind of awful to say it, but no, seriously, cats have the cutest bones, and she was a little thing, so hers are especially cute.

Date: 2013-03-17 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love how you can still recognise her face in her skull. It's beautiful.

Date: 2013-03-17 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is. I was concerned, you know, that they would make a mistake and give me the wrong cat. I mean, I know how they track their specimens through the cleaning process, which ensures no mistakes, and I know that they are very careful, and that I was really, really explicit with them that they were to take good care of my hero-kitty ("She saved my stupid life, SO YOU TAKE CARE OF HER."), and that they are professional and ethical and all that, and they were super-kind and respectful about it, but I was still so scared. And I'm pretty darn sure it's her. There was nothing exceptional about her bone structure that I noticed in life (most of my other cats have features I'll be able to recognize, like Sif's little bump on her forehead, or Smooch being a gimpy-looking dude, or Fish having the MOST ENORMOUS sagittal and occipital crests I've ever felt on a cat, let alone a small female . . . like a SHARK FIN), so there was nothing for me to really navigate by beyond "right size, right age, no old injuries", but I'm content that they did right by us both. I do remember the feel of her head under my hand very well, and the size of her skull under my palm is right.

Date: 2013-03-17 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for sharing. I too have been planning to have my pet dog's bones cleaned and preserved once he no longer requires them, and it's good to know that I'm not the only weirdo considering it. I'm really very sorry for your loss, but I am glad you're pleased with the taxidermists' work.

Date: 2013-03-17 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gahd I love your icon.

It was the folks at Skulls Unlimited, so I knew they did good work. I'd bought from them before, and their stuff is always sturdy and very white, so I knew they'd do her up nice, and they did. I hope you have access to someone equally competent! It's a good decision, if you are the sort of person who would make it. If that makes sense. I don't think you'll regret it. Although I do hope you don't have to do that anytime soon. <3

Date: 2013-03-17 07:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad you're reunited and she gets to stay indoors. *hugs*

Date: 2013-03-17 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It must be so nice to *hold* her again. Such a wonderful thing to do, and it really sounds as though she would have approved :)

Date: 2013-03-17 06:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is nice to have something I can touch and pet. I think she would've wanted to be by me, comforting me, whatever the means. I don't think she would've minded.

Date: 2013-03-17 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My goodness, has it been two years already? I could have sworn it wasn't more than six months ago.
Tazendra was a hilarious cat and I loved reading your stories of her, and seeing her silly faces in photos. I wish I could have met her in the fur.
In my experience cats pack on more personality as they age, so who knows, perhaps Etrigan and Snooch might one day take on her larger-than-life mantle, although I have to say you're right, that is a helluva collar to fill.
R.I.P. Tazendra, I hope wherever she's gone there's lots of warm sunbeams and stolen chicken.

Date: 2013-03-17 11:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aww. {{{hugs}}} If you do hugs. Some of them are just special. My Shadow Man has been gone almost 8 years and I still miss him every. single. day.

Date: 2013-03-18 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I did not expect to find her just as beautiful fur-less - I expected to be squeamish. I am surprised and just a bit teary at seeing what a graceful and beautiful creature she was. (Well - and goofy. :-) ) I am glad you still have her with you.

Date: 2013-03-18 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw, she was an itty bitty girl, wasn't she? I never realized how small she was until I saw the pics of her skull in your hands. I love that last picture of the two fanged beasts. Adorable.

Date: 2013-03-18 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think her adult weight was around seven pounds. She was LITTLE. Only one of the house cat skulls I have is smaller than hers, and it's from what I *think* was a young adult female feral. Barring her fur and her tail, which were both so poofy, if she'd curled up, she would've easily fit on a standard dinner plate without overflowing.

She had loads of loose skin on her shoulders, meaning I could pick her up by the scruff even as an adult without hurting her. I could pick her up with *two fingers*.

Such a tiny thing to leave such a big empty space!

Date: 2013-03-18 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I, too, am glad that you have something tangible of her. :) *hugs*

Date: 2013-03-18 06:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This truly is a beautiful way to remember her and it truly suits both she AND you.
We had to have our oldest cat put to sleep due to SEVERE kidney issues right before our son was born (4+) years ago and I STILL miss him.
We have one of those paw print ornaments to remember him by.
The vet tech (a personal friend) offered to put some of his fur in it, but he'd been shaved so much from the ivs we didn't have the heart to.
I now wish we had, or had kept his ashes. He could never figure out of he was a human or a dog or a cat or what, but he was ours.
I wish I could have met her. I always loved seeing the pictures you posted of her and love these as well.
I'm sure she'd be pleased with this memorial for her and knowing that she's still with you always.

Date: 2013-03-18 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He could never figure out of he was a human or a dog or a cat or what, but he was ours.


This is by Spencer Madsen, and it reminds me of Etrigan very much, and what you just said reminded me of it, too. It is why I call Etrigan "little brother", and always make time for him, even when he is being an utter asshole. He brings me his toys, this one is his favorite, and he eats my food, and I do my best to make him happy. He's shaping up to be my closest cat friend, and I am not sure how to feel about that.

my cat is sad.
no one else in his family is a cat
we are all human except for him
he is excluded from most things
and no one tells him why
he just wants to play
and be loved
he looks at us with wonder
and disappointment
he says hello i am a cat what is my existence
what is that / why it and not me / please can you look at me and love me too
can i have some of your food please im sorry i dont like my food so much
do you want to play with my toys? this one is my favorite
do you like me
are we brothers
why didnt i grow up
why am i so small
can you help me be happy
where are you going

-- Spencer Madsen

That poem always makes me cry. But in a good way. It reminds me of what my job is as a friend. Yes, dumbass, we are brothers.

Date: 2013-03-18 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also, *hugs*. I'm sorry about your baby.


naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)

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