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Digit, Actually Dead This TimeNovember 8, 2013

Digit was the worst cat ever. He arrived as a tiny little jerk. 

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Even in that picture, he’s probably about to scratch me.  

He fell in love with me, though, instantly. I was mama, since he was too young to leave his own who’d abandoned him under a house in San Francisco, but he was never my “fur baby.” I didn’t call him my son. No offense to those who call their pets that—it’s lovely. It just wasn’t the way we rolled. We were bachelors together in that little mother-in-law hovel that clung to the hill in east Oakland. We both went out at night and came back tore up. I’d have careless cigarette burns in my clothing, and he’d have foxtails and other cats’ claws stuck in his. 

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We bunked together. Happily. He nuzzled under my chin and shoved his paw in mine, using his claws to get closer if he needed to. He attacked visitors with creativity and enthusiasm, clawing his way up their jeans and over their shoulders to the sound of their curses. He drew blood first and often. I told visitors, “Don’t touch the cat, I mean it.” Then if they did that silly, “Oh, all cats love me, watch,” I never felt sorry for them and handed out bandages. 

My neighbors, when we moved to a tonier section of Oakland, hated my emeffing cat. They demanded recompense for Digit chasing their cat into their house and beating the hell out of her—and I was about to pay their vet bill until I saw their cat beat the hell out of Digit in my yard, so we agreed to pay our own bills.  

Digit saw me through six relationships. He didn’t care for most of the people I dated, but he loved Lala. Hated her dogs, though. Hated. He spent years thinking about ways to decapitate Harriet in her sleep, but Harriet could hold her own. He also hated me for a while, for introducing such low-bred animals into my life. He forgave all, however, when we got Clementine, a pit bull of his very own. For at least the first year that Clementine lived with us, all Digit had to do was breathe to make Clementine cower. Digit loved it. Nothing was better than punching Clementine and making her cry. It was fucking Disneyland. 

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He cost me at least fifteen thousand dollars over the years, and that’s not including the five thousand the knitters raised for his care after he returned from the dead (first, he died. Then, three months later, I got schmittens. Then he came back from the dead. After that, there was a raffle that put him back together again. If you haven't read that story here or in my memoir, I'll let you have a minute). 

Fourteen years ago, I had him de-manned entirely, removing his penis because of a life-threatening disease. Last year, a vet told me soberly that, in fact, the cat I thought was male was actually female. I laughed my way out and I remain impressed with the remarkable job the first vet did. 

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Because that cat was all male. He stood up to pee, his beer farts were terrible, and when he lost at poker we had to eat ramen for weeks. And he was my guy. I was his girl. We were each other's. We’ve been each other's since the very first moment. It was love at first sight for both of us, and tonight, as I held his paw as he drifted off, there was no one else in the whole world but him. 

Today's decision to let him go was the right decision. It was a terrible day, deciding. Lala called me at work this morning, and I was able to take vacation for the rest of the day.

I spent almost seven hours in bed today holding him as he slept like this.

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By the time we got to the vet, he was almost all the way checked out, not even able to purr. Strangely, it was a relief to let him go.  

He was a jerk. A real, complete asshole. And he was MINE. 

My face hurts and my head aches. My eyes are almost swollen shut. I miss the hell out of that beast already and it’s gonna get worse, I bet, before it gets better. We have a lot of animals, yes. We still have three dogs and two cats left. And you know what? I like them all. I even love them.  

But I loved no one and nothing like I loved Digit. We came as a package deal, and for the first time in seventeen years, he’s not yelling at me, and I’m not yelling back.  

Lala has said for a while that his first name is Fuck Off. This is because of how many times a day one or the other of us said, “Fuck off, Digit.” Because he was a ridiculous, demanding jerk who tried to eat the food off our plates constantly. But he’s dying, I’d joke. 

Not a joke, I guess. 

Tonight, after we said our goodbyes, before the vet pushed the needle, I said, “Fuck off, Digit.” 

Lala said, “Fuck right off.” 

As we left, we saw the vet petting his body. 

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Some cat. Fucking love of my life. 

Comments

What an incredible life Digit had with you. I'm touched by your love and caring for him. You made a difference to each other. Hugs.

Safe journey to Digit. He was one lucky boy to have spent his life with you.

It's hard to type through my tears.

Aw honey, I'm so so sorry. Digit had more lives than most, and each was better than the last because he was with you. We're all wrapped around you, with Digit.

Oh, honey, I'm so very sorry. Hug Lala a lot. Make her hug you too. ((((hug)))) These are from me.

This post made me cry. My Maine Coon (Elwood) is 17 and I am really dreading the day he leaves. They really wrap themselves around our hearts, don't they?

I am so sorry Rachel. I know how much it hurts to have a cat-sized hole in your heart. I am sending you a virtual hug.

So sorry for your loss. I've been reading your blog since Digit went on a walkabout and you thought you'd lost him, and remember crying when I read your entry that he had made his way back. What a marvelous cat he was. So glad you two had each other.

You made him a cat I cared about through your writing. I remember being so happy when he came back to you. That seems like yesterday.

I'm so sorry.

I am so sorry.
I have followed your blog for years and always loved your Digit stories.

By any measure, he was an outstanding cat, truly a once in a lifetime cat.
Thoughts and prayers to you and Lala.

I am so sorry. We all know the name of the ONE. I love my present two but neither is the ONE that I still grieve.

I'm crying my eyes out for you and Lana. Love...

My heart aches for you and I'm crying my mascara off at work. (It's a nice look.)Consider yourself virtually hugged.

But still, I had to smile a little at your blog post title. I have been here, reading along, for so much of the Digit story throughout the years.

Third time Digit made me cry: when he ran away, when he came home, and now. Damn cats really do "take over our hearts" as saranlap said.

I'll be thinking of you, Rachel, and Digit too, and my old Rocky who was so much like Digit, and all the other tough old cats. Glad to have had them in my life.

I'll bet that m-f cat is giving Saint Francis one hell of a hard time.

And that may be the best piece of writing you've ever posted here, a fitting memorial to a hairy relationship.

RIP Digit, off to the Happy Hunting Grounds. I lost my Stevie to kidney disease, it is so hard when that day comes. HUGS.

I'm sorry for your loss, but glad you got to have him (be had by him) for those years.

Dammit, you made me cry at the service desk at work.

Oh, fuck all. I just put my boy Jake down after twenty years of hell raising boy-cattitude. Even with advanced face cancer, he was The Boss Cat, tuxedo and all, and my two English mastiffs still deferred their dinner to him even to the last. He was the most self-assured but insistent cat ever, not to be denied entry onto your lap or your pillow, and I miss the hell out of him. Love to you, Rachael. Our boys would have made a hell of a team.

So sorry to read about Digit. We lost our Rocky, also 17 years old, a few months ago, and I think that he and Digit are probably hanging out together now - they seem to have a lot in common.
Take care - it does hurt to lose them, no matter how long we have them.

So very sorry for your loss.

I am so sorry for your loss. We said good bye to our Lady Argon this summer and as much as I was often telling her to fuck off, we dearly miss her bossy little mew.

Oh, hell, I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm so very sorry Rachael.

Oh. Speechless. The best and worst thing about having furry creatures in our ovens are how short a time we have them. I loved Digit stories so much. I am a bit teary, and I don't usually cry.

(like you I had to get 2 shittens to fill the hole my Emma left. I love them, but it will never be the same)

I am so sorry for your loss.

Damn it. I know it happens. I've made that horrible awful terrible choice myself twice now. But still... I hate it. Hate the loss, hate the empty, hate the hurt.
But... I love the years with. The purring and licks, the playing and catnip fueled wack-outs, the snuggles. The love.
The first is a terrible price to pay and totally completely and fully worth it all the way.
Much hugs to all of you including the other furry members of your family.

I am sorry for your loss of your handsome boy. I cried when I read your post just like I cried when he came back from the dead. Cats and dogs hold a special place in my heart, and I know the heartbreak of when it's time to say goodbye. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of your animals with us through your blog.

I'm so sorry to hear about Digit. I've followed your stories of him over the years. I lost my jerky cat a few years ago, and although we have three other cats, he was very special. It's a weird bond and most people don't get it. I dreamt about Zak for a long time afterward and each time, I'd say I was so glad to see him and I'd hold him. Heartbreaking. Take care of yourself and know that you were lucky to have each other.

Oh, Rachael, I'm so sorry. Your post made new cry. Hugs to you from Ohio.

Oh man, I'm sorry to read this. You have all my sympathy. I had a ridiculous old cat of my own, and I was always glad to follow along and read the adventures of your old asshole cat while holding on to my old asshole cat. Kitty demanded to be carried around almost constantly for his last 5 years, and if you didn't oblige he screamed so terribly that over the years I have pet sitters beyond count call me to tell me they thought he was dying, because he was just SCREAMING. When you picked him up, it was like someone hit the off switch. Then he would give you a big "that's right b*tch" wink and fade off to sleep in your arms, exactly like he wanted. Who would have thought you could miss something that caused so much sleeplessness and irritation, yet there it is.

Some of them just take a bigger piece of your heart when they go. It's the cost of the privilege love, and I would pay it every time.

OMG - I'm sooo sorry sweetie!!! You and Digit have been a part of my life for sooo long! I've stalked your site and loved your boy for a lot of years. I sat here at work and had a good cry - I will miss him! Please know that Digit's life has touched many of us and his spirit will live on in our memories. HUGE hugs to you and Lala - love you all!

I'm so sorry. First loves and all. Be well.

Oh fuck off Digit. You stinkin rotten jerk.

**sobs**

Yeah ... fuckoff

I'm so sorry for your loss. Wish I knew words of comfort but there really aren't any that even come close.

Love for you and Lala and creatures left. So very sorry.

I am so sorry to hear about Digit. I had a similar beast of a cat called Tabby (I was 6). He was an orange tom cat, 18 lbs. without a scrap of fat on him. He owned the neighborhood for about 3 miles in any direction and would only come home when he needed to go to the vet because one of his battle wounds was abscessing. He wound up with FIV when he was 8 and became an indoor kitty immediately. He pissed on everything from my textbooks to my bedclothes to express his opinions of this change. I've still got a piece of sheet music with his blood spatters across it from the billionth time he managed to slip his cone and re-open his wounds in an impressive and artistic spray of fluids. I don't usually tell people about all of the shit he pulled, because they don't usually get it. The war stories just make the bond closer. We had 16 years together. Now he's resting in my parents' courtyard, right by the birdbath, under the shade of the mulberry tree. Lots of birds to kill. Let's hope Tabby and Digit are both raising hell in kitty heaven, but hopefully in different parts.

There is no logic to who we love, we just love them. Digit loved you and you loved him. Mourning is the appropriate response. Very sorry for your loss.

We raise dogs - - we've raised many - - sold some - - kept many . . . buried more than we can stand, because they don't live as long as we would like them to live . . . we love each one, hate/love some of them, . . . but respect and honor each one. They are "us" . . . our buds . . . our best friends, sometimes - - but always, our trav'lin' companions. They "know" us, sometimes better than we know ourselves. We just damn luv 'em. .. .

I had tears in my eyes reading this post, so hard to say goodbye to a beloved pet
I broke my heart each time I have had to go thru it over the years
I am sure he/she is smiling down from up ther

You were both well loved. Fiercely.
xoxoxoxox

Oh I am so sorry!

Suzanne

I am so very sorry.
I've always enjoyed hearing about Digit; thanks.

Thank you for sharing your and Digit's story with us. So very sorry for your loss :(

Rachael, I'm so sorry to hear about this. You have a way of making me either laugh really hard or cry my eyes out! Either way, your writing invokes so many emotions.

I am so happy for your darling Digit-he was so lucky to spend his life with such a loving soul mate. The tragedy of our pets is that they don't live as long as we do, so we have to pack as much loving as we can into the time we have. It seems to me he was one of the luckiest cats in the world.
Fly high Digit.

Oh Rachel, I had not read the blog for a couple weeks and now I am so sorry to read of Digit's passing. We lost our little Daisy-lee in 2010 and now our Smokey-Josephine is really thin from chronic kidney disease and our Sammi was just diagnosed with the same thing 3 weeks ago so that is how my month has gone. Trying to keep them eating and giving them the CKD meds. You did everything you could for Digit and he knew that and he loved you....I pray the Rainbow Bridge is real and we will all see our furbabies when it is our time to cross over. So very sorry for your loss.

Oh, Rachel. I am so sorry about Digit. They have a way of sticking to your heart that makes it so hard to see them go. We have said good-bye to both our housecats and one outside cat in the last year. But, I guess, the joy and happiness when holding a purring furball makes it possible to take in another. Hugs.

I was behind in reading my blogs so I'm just finding out about Digit. I'm so sorry. He was a wonderful little fucker. My thoughts are with you and Lala.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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