Sunday, January 10, 2010

Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida

Young Ida

In July 1992, Zed, a cat belonging to my neighbor Peter in Chicago, had a litter of kittens. A couple of months later, one of them made her way across Seeley Avenue and entered my life. My ex-husband and I at first thought we'd choose one of Ida's brothers, but we soon realized he was a little too rambunctious for us. Then one day I came home from work, and there in our living room was a funny-looking kitten with a head that seemed way too big for her body and an adorable stripe down the middle of her face.

Thus began 17 and 1/2 years of happiness.

It took us a little while to decide on the right name for this special cat. One day while at the Art Institute of Chicago, I passed by a painting by Ivan Albright called Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida. I stopped and thought. It was not a favorite painting of mine; I found it rather creepy and depressing. But I liked the title, and so we named Ida not after a painting but after the title of a painting.

Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while know how helpful Ida always was with blocking or modeling my knitwear. She wasn't much interested in playing with yarn, though, and never messed around with any of my projects. A perfect knitter's cat!


Ida and Mimosa



Ida was a one-person cat, and I was that lucky one person. She was shy and easily alarmed and generally hid in the presence of anyone but me. This habit earned her the nickname "Hide-a" from my nephews--they never did see her anywhere but hiding under the bed or hiding under the bedcovers.

She had lots of other nicknames: Funny Face, Miss Ida Mae, Tuna Girl, Little Lovey, Sweetie Pie. She had a thing for rugs:

Ida and Rug_1

Ida and Rug_2

And for sheets or towels warm from the clothes dryer:

Ida and the Warm Sheets

Several years ago, when my friend Doreen and her husband Don threw a combination housewarming and Halloween party after buying their first house, I decided to go as Ida. I found a scarf that had exactly her colors, carefully painted a beige stripe down the middle of a black cat mask, and brought some cat treats to share. Here's me as Ida, with Doreen as a model suburban hostess:

Me as Ida, with Doreen as a Suburban Hostess

Last summer, Ida was diagnosed with diabetes. I began giving her twice-daily insulin shots (which, thankfully, she didn't mind getting). But over the course of the last few months it became clear that Ida was insulin resistant. She had several tests during November and December, but they didn't reveal why the insulin wasn't working.

Meanwhile, she kept losing weight and her arthritis got worse and worse. She was stumbling, falling, and having a hard time getting into a comfortable position. She began losing interest in the things she still enjoyed--her knitted catnip toys, the birds at the suet feeders, her pot of cat grass. Even warm laundry was no longer an enticement. She stopped grooming herself and spent much of her time curled up in the bedroom closet.

Last week I took her to a specialist and, after a thorough examination and discussion of her health, I made the decision to have Ida put down. I was with her during her last moments and was glad to see how peacefully her soul left the world.

Thankfully, we were able to spend a lot of time together during Ida's last few weeks. I'll never forget how loudly she purred on the day before she died, snuggling next to me on the bed and licking my hand. I think she was saying goodbye, and saying it in the most beautiful way she knew how. How lucky I was to have such a sweet and loving companion for 17 and 1/2 years.

Ida's Cat Grass

Ida's pot of cat grass still grows. It will wither soon, as it always does. My sister Betsey gave me this little Eggling yesterday, in which I planted tiny thyme seeds this morning. If the thyme grows and thrives, I think I'll transplant it to Ida's pot.


I'm exhausted after writing this post and out of words. So I'll end with those of one of my favorite poets, Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass:

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward . . . . and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier.

Ida on New Year's Day, 2010


Anonymous said...

Ida was a beautiful cat. I'm sorry for your loss.

Mary said...

I'm so sorry for your lose. Ida was a beautiful and very special cat. Thank you for sharing her with us.

punkin said...

I am so sorry. I tearfully offer my condolences.

knithound brooklyn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful cat.

Cyndi said...

I am so very sorry. I am sure it is very difficult to lose such a special companion.

Trillian42 said...

Goodbye, Ida. You were a beautiful kitty, and you were obviously well-loved. You will clearly be missed.

Jenny said...

Fair play to you, Ida. We'll miss you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Bonnie. Ida looked like such a sweetie from the little blog window I viewed her from. {{{hugs}}}

Kathy Sue said...

So sorry for your loss. She was apparently a wonderful kitty, so you'll have many memories to treasure. I firmly believe that even after they are gone, our pets stay with us, so don't sop talking to her--she'll get lonely, and so will you! Hugs.

Cindy G said...

My heart hurts for your loss. You gave Ida a very good life and she enriched yours. Missing has to be very hard. Hugs.

Suzy Girl said...

I'm so, so sorry. You were lucky indeed to be Ida's person.

Dave said...

I`m so sorry she has left you, but my, what a beatiful tribute you`ve written.

adrienne *+*(^_^) +*+ said...

Such a lovely little lady. Sorry she is gone. {{hug}}

Betsey said...

Beautiful Ida!
Thinking of you and her, Bonnie.

minipurl said...

I am so sorry to read your news about Ida. Thank you for sharing her with all of us.
Hard to say much more.

Anonymous said...

When I saw Ida, (and lace) -- something resonated. I'm glad she found you and you had such a rich relationship. Oh, achey heart.

BP: Much love & kindeness to you.
I know this is a hard thing -- there is something so pure about relatonships with good animals -- Seems everything of value comes at a price.

Ida: for a shy kitteh, you sure got alot of press. I raise this glass (of cat treats) to thee, QotU.
-- laBou & Bou Kitteh

Jodi said...

It's so hard to say good-bye to a beloved pet. Sounds like Ida had a good run, though. Plus a nice stint as a knitwear model/blocking assistant! What a gorgeous girl.

Shelda said...

What a lovely tribute. Kitties just touch our hearts in such special ways. This brings back memories of all of mine.

KPiep said...

Tynan and I are sending our deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved Ida. I know how very much you are going to miss her...and I'm also glad you were able to make the right decision for her.

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Oh, Bonnie, I'm so sorry. Ida was indeed a special feline. Those are hard to come by, and harder to say good-bye to. What a great relationship you had with her! Hugs to you.

Karin said...

Oh I am crying now!!!! Ida was very very lucky to have you as her owner...
What a perfectly beautiful cat.

Batty said...

I'm so sorry! What a special, beautiful cat.

Mo said...

I'm very sorry for the loss of your beautiful and loving Ida.

Jo Frogger said...

One more round of sympathy to add to the pile. I lost ~three~ elder cats within just over a year of each other, and it never got easier. Loved your "Ida" costume -- the scarf's colors are perfect. (I've though of knitting a sweater to match my calico, Chaco.) And yes, Albright is creepy beyond all reason, but some of his titles are wonderful.

May 2010 be kinder to you and whoever auditions as the next great knit model.

All you need to know is.... said...

Oh what a helpful creature Ida is!
I could not knit or - especially - spin without the assistance of my fully trained cats!
My three love being around me when I am busy with yarn, they have to add their, er, contribution to the proceedings,e.g patting,lying on things etc!
There is nothing better in this world than sitting in front of the fire on a cold evening, knitting some thick socks, surrounded by sleepy, contented cats.

Cal at Northern Sky Knitting said...

I did not realise - when I wrote my last comment - that Ida had passed away - oh how dreadfully sad, I know how you mut feel as my father's cat - who we saw born as one of our cat's kittens over 20 years ago - died age 20 lst year. It is devastating. But you have your happy memories of her life and of her little 'Farewell'.
Goodbye Ida, you will be sadly missed xxx

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute. I am weeping. I am so glad you had her and were there when she needed you most. I need to go hug my kitties now.

kittykat said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your cat. I lost my cat Dolly this's so painful...I know how hard it is....