FlashBack Friday – Gizmo

I have gotten into a trend of attempting to make my FlashBack Friday posts humorous. This week’s post will not be. Instead I’d like to tell you about someone who was very special to me.

In 1998 when I moved to Dublin I was alone in a new city, missing my friends back in Boston and lonely. My boyfriend at the time –not CableDad. Gizmo, Tiger and I lived as a happy threesome together in Dublin. We didn’t meet Simba and CableDad until we returned to the States. We didn’t have Eleanor adopt us until all five of us moved to Canada. In the interim the boys and I lived with SoulGlow, my former roommate, and his fluffy black kitty Sativa. But those are all stories for another time. (Sorry Lilacspecs.) — as I was saying, my boyfriend at the time decided that presenting me with a pair of kittens would help my adjustment easier. He was right.

I’ve talked about Tiger many times in the past, and here is a photo of him and just to be fair, here is a photo of Eleanor and one of Simba. What Ihaven’t mentioned, however, is that Tiger had a brother, a litter mate, named Gizmo.

wild Gizmo of the herb forest

Gizmo was a gorgeous black cat. In fact, he preferred to be called Gorgeous or Beautiful to his own name. He was all cat. I know that sounds like an odd comment, but if you had ever met any of my other cats, you would understand what I mean. Gizmo was graceful, aloof (to all but me), vain, intelligent and unabashedly superior to his surroundings. He was also the only one of my cats who ever watched his figure. CableDad and I used to joke about the fact that while Simba, Tiger and Eleanor were all rather gourd shaped (please, don’t tell Eleanor I said that), Gizmo was the only one who was actually cat shaped.

I loved Gizmo dearly. I’d never say this aloud for the others to hear, but he was my favorite. He was my first baby. It is because of Gizmo that I have an incredible weak spot in my heart for black cats. Gizmo had no interest in anyone other than me. He’d follow me around the house, pretending the whole time that he wasn’t, of course. CableDad used to joke that there were only two people in Gizmo’s world: Mamma and Not-the-Mamma.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of his death.

In December of 2003 CableDad and I took a trip out to Seattle to visit his parents. When we left the three boys and Eleanor in the capable care of our neighbor, Gizmo was showing no signs of illness. By the time we got home, there was obviously something wrong. Well, obvious to me anyway. As I mentioned before, Gizmo had always been on the slender side. CableDad used to joke that he was watching his figure. I noticed when we got home after Christmas that Gizmo was significantly thinner. But, fool that I am, I chalked it up to his missing me and not being interested in eating while I was gone.

I delayed taking him to the vet for at least a week or so. I kick myself about that now all the time even though I know it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Towards the middle of January I took Gizmo to the vet. The vet could find nothing overtly wrong with him and agreed with me that he was rather underweight. He ran a whole battery of tests and drained about a pint of blood from poor Giz and we went home. On the way I stopped off at the store and bout all of Gizmo’s favorite treats. I figured at the very least I could bring him into the bedroom and spend my time trying to fatten him up away form the prying eyes of the Ever-Hungry.

Over the next few weeks Gizmo and I were in the vet’s office countless times. Eventually we got the news. It was bad. Gizmo was dangerously low on red blood cells. His bone marrow just wasn’t producing anymore. Bone Cancer. The vet explained that we could attempt a bone marrow transplant but any positive results would be temporary and the outlook wasn’t good in any event. His advice to me was to keep him as comfortable as I could, keep him happy and fed him as much as I could get him to eat, but bring him back to put him down before it got too bad.

The next few weeks were very hard. I did my best to make my little boy comfortable. I was perpetually trying to feed him his favorite foods, but towards the end eating was just too difficult for him.

His last day with us I awoke to Gizmo lying in his litter pan gasping for air and coughing a horribly sad raspy dry cough. My poor little neat freak kitty was lying in his own filth unable to breathe. My heart broke and I knew it was time.

That afternoon I wrapped him up in one of my sweaters, one I had found in Galway when he was a kitten and had always been incredibly attached to, and brought him to the vet. CableDad came with me to hold my hand. The vet met us immediately and asked me if I was sure I was ready. He said something about Gizmo not being in as bad shape as many other’s people pets when they brought them in to be put down. I lost it. While he told me repeatedly what he meant was that I was making the right decision for my little boy by not letting him suffer for my sake alone, what I heard was that I was acting too hastily and killing my baby prematurely.

I’m not the sort of person who cries easily. I don’t usually break down and if I do it’s never in public. That evening, as I sat in a chair in the vet’s office with my Gizmo in my lap I sobbed hysterically. My tears left his fur soaking wet. I kissed his head repeatedly and told him I loved him while the vet gave him the injection. He was just 5 years old.

It was over more quickly than I could have imagined and I sat holding his lifeless body for a good half hour crying and feeling myself break apart. CableDad did his best to comfort me; he told me I had made the right decision and that since I loved my little boy I couldn’t let him continue to suffer. I told him to leave me alone. He did.

Eventually the vet came back into the room and asked what I wanted to do with Gizmo’s body. I could have the vet’s office take care of his remains, or I could bring him home with me to bury him. We lived in an apartment in downtown Toronto. Bringing him home wasn’t an option. The last I ever saw of my little boy was when the vet carried his lifeless body out of the room and out of my life.

I spent the night awake on the couch because I couldn’t bring myself to go to bed if Gizmo wasn’t going to curl up on the pillow next to my head. Tiger spent the night on the couch with me. We sat silently through the night comforting each other. I knew Tiger missed him at least as much as I did. He would roam the apartment for weeks after Gizmo died calling out to him eventually settling down in my lap at my desk when Gizmo didn’t appear.

I know that there are many people out there who won’t understand this post. They might say something like, “It’s just a cat,” something I heard from various people at the time. To those people I say, if you can make a heartless statement like that you have never truly loved a pet.

Gorgeous Gizmo, my beautiful black boy, I still love you and miss you terribly.

a rare moment of ignoring dignity
black cat on a white couch.


~ by CableGirl on Friday, February 29, 2008.

24 Responses to “FlashBack Friday – Gizmo”

  1. I hardest I ever cried when I lost someone dear to me was when our first cat Bill died. I understand and sympathize with your grief. I am truly sorry for your loss, he was beautiful.

  2. I’m not a cat person…but I am a dog person and I know how upsetting it was when we put our black lab down. I admit, this post made me weepy.

  3. A tear just hit the desk. I miss Rex so much right now and can’t wait to get him from Pittsburgh next month. He’s not even two yet and I know part of me would curl up and die if I had to put him down or if he ever got sick like that.

    Thank you so much for sharing something that I’m sure was painful to remember.

  4. Okay, I have to admit that I have only skimmed this post as I already felt the tear well up and memories of my beloved BC coming back. And as I am trying to get out of the house for the weekend I just can’t break down, so I’ll be back. But I am so sorry and know full well that the pain only lessens a bit over time.

    I am playing this week, BTW. You inspired me last week!

  5. From the girl who tends to cry too easily to the girl who doesn’t: this is just a beautiful post and I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful guy.
    I can’t live with cats any more since growing into an allergy to them in my 20’s but oh, how I love them. My particular missing is of my Frank who we had for 17 years. I had long moved out of the house when we got the call that she would have to be put down, but oh-how I cried over her loss. I miss her still. Thinking of you on this sad anniversary.

  6. What a gorgeous cat!

    Are you still in Dublin? I love that city. Visited it many years ago when we lived in England. Strange I should read your blog today, because tomorrow I’m off to Hollywood for the International Family Film Festival where the screenplay (The Ardanea Pendant) I co-authored with Jeanne McKinney is one of the Finalists. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland in the 1960s!

  7. I understand, hun. Fortunatley I haven’t had any of my babies die yet, but I know if either cat should get sick & have to be put down, I’d be so sad. I never had real pets when I was growing up, so when I fell in love with our first kitty at the adoption center, I just HAD to bring him home. The rest is history.
    Big Hugs- I’m sure you still miss him.

  8. I understand! I’m a cat person, too, and my first cat – our family cat that was around before me – was my favorite. I sobbed in the middle of a restaurant when my mom told me they’d put her to sleep while I was at school.

  9. At my age the list is long–Poco (childhood), Schroeder (18+ years), Chrissy (my beautiful, beautiful black lab…broke my heart), Roxanne (sang to The Police), and Devilcat (small, black kitty missing her front teeth who ruled over three large dogs). Duck Duck and I now have Winston, a 12-year-old, yellow lab who is showing his age and Bella, a 6-year-old, black lab. We’re currently considering getting another lab pup to keep Bella company when Winston leaves us. CG, I cried for beautiful Gizmo today.

  10. Oh my gosh, huge hugs to you! And I completely understand. I still miss Starlight every. single. day. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal it is, those attachments run very deep. And good for you for being selfless in not having him suffer longer than he had to.

  11. Thank you; I am now a sobbing wreck. Oy.

    How sad, my friend. You have my sympathies. Gotta go blow my nose.

  12. Someone you love is never just a cat.

    –HP, Blog Hoppers

  13. Stopping by to say hi and you have my sympathies.

    Blog hopping on by…….

  14. It is so very hard when a pet, which is always more than a pet, passes away. I still think about my cat Weezie and she has been gone for 3 years now.

    Blog Hoppin~

    Anastasia Beaverhousin

  15. Some people ignore the fact that in 2006 I lost two kittens and six grand-kittens. Did I cry? Every time, like Meryl Streep and Al Pacino combined.

    Some people don’t know that between 2003-2007, twenty-two (22) human beings died, all of whom were significant. Did I cry? Only once.

    When my kittens Kundalini & Cacique died in 2006, I had them embalmed in the ancient Egyptian technique for cats. I wrote a rubai poem (posted below), had a memorial garden constructed, and hosted a New Orleans Voodoo-Style funeral for my children. The next week I had to terminated my relationship of 4+ years. For which event do you think I cried?

    My remaining two daughters each bore a litter for their fabulous dog-hunter bloodline. Kali’s whole first litter of 4 died shortly after birth (see: Kali) and Kallisti’s 2 children, Loqui and Batcat died on the same day, aged 8 weeks. Batcat succumbed to a strange illness which took her in less than 24 hours. The kicker is that I vacillated to take Batcat to the vet, and in the morning she was dead. Ironically I found her brother Loqui nearby, and he had been clearly attacked by a larger animal. Those days I cried too, with what little remaining emotion I could scrape together. Do those days haunt me still? Yes, more than every other event of the last 6 years combined.

    The death of a child or familiar takes a piece of you with it. As certain packs of animals came ’round to take a stab at me (see:”Friends”, et al V.) there was absolutely nothing left to take. It was so much drama that even my beloved Xochitl left me, and my heart has been in recent years, a very cold, unforgiving place for non-cats. There are those people bear me ill will while seeking to repair their own self-image, but what can they do to me? Having nothing left for others to take is also a position of advantage, and I have made that strength my own.

    I take some sympathy in knowing I am not alone in my grief or regrets or losses. Thank you, CableGirl. I know this was a difficult subject. I miss Gizmo, too. Here is one person who knows how you feel many times over, and across the ocean my heart goes out to you.


    “Oh Ra, come to your daughter Bastet, whom a scorpion has stung on a lonely road. Her cries reach heaven. The poison which has entered her limbs now flows through her veins. She has sucked the wound, but lo, the poison is in her limbs. Come then with your might, your frightfulness, your magnificence!” -Exorcism for Cats, The Metternich Stele (Egyptian, c.4000 BCE)

    Firstborn, you came to me, out your mother’s backside,
    Breech birth I saw with morning eyes, asleep on my side
    ‘Til I righted you, cradled you, toweled you alive,
    A veterinary nursemaid spontaneously qualified.

    More distinctive and clever than your siblings five,
    Nose halved black & white, white booties to drive
    Your clumsy bunny frame, ill-named Kundalini,
    With mittens and blue eyes to complete your jive.

    Less meows, more squeaks, diminutive & teeny
    You trotted into my office demanding to see me,
    Soft-cradled again in silly Granddaddy’s arms,
    Who’d sing to you, tickle your white fur bikini.

    I chased you then, sounding my paternal alarms,
    For lollygagging in the street, would put you in harm’s
    Way… today. But that day, you just bunny-hopped away
    From me mockingly, forgiven only for your charm.

    Your brothers bundle together, sleeping off the day.
    They stood vigil with me as your broken body lay
    In my arms again, as when you were first born and new,
    Not so long ago, just six months to the day.

    Your mother rages, like a human mother would do,
    But with sharp claws to slice reckless drivers in two,
    Unlike me. In three years I mourned sixteen souls dead
    And wept not. This flurry of tears I saved only for you.

  17. I understand – your post brought back the heartache of losing Hank this fall.

  18. Damn CableG… I’m not a cat person at all, but picturing you sobbing at the office as the vet put him down was too much. Even for me. Love is love.

  19. Oh Dammit. Here I am, tears streaming down my face. For I have three cats and a dog; one of my cats looks just like Gizmo nad my heart breaks for you,for I would be devastated too….

    I am so sad for you; but what a lucky cat to have found a caring and loving person like you in his short life.

    Wow, am I glad there is no one around to see me wiping the tears off my cheeks.

    (and BTW, two of our other cats from my past were named Tiger and Simba too).

    Blog Hoppin’

  20. I couldn’t understand – because I’ve never had a pet. But I do have babies. And that post had me bawling.

  21. Cablegirl – I completely understand and sympathize with you. And I’m not gonna lie – I had to stop at the part where you found Gizmo in his litter box. The only pet I’ve had to have put to sleep was a guinea pig (yes, a guinea pig) – and I cried like a baby. Over a guinea pig. But he wasn’t *just* a guinea pig. He was a guinea pig with a species disorder – he thought he was a little lap dog.

    Our pets are not “just a pet”, they’re our companions. They’re the ones who know us like no other – oh, the stories they could tell! They know EVERYthing and see EVERYthing. They’re loyal to a fault, and love us unconditionally.

    Even on our worst of days.

  22. Your pets are like your children. Like family. It hurts to lose family. He seemed like a wonderful cat and I’m glad you had the time with him that you did.

  23. Aw, little Mo-mo!!! Such a sweet boy, he even deigned to lay on me a few times to get his ears rubbed. He was such a love!!!

  24. I’ve recently gone through that sort of pain when my cat died of kidney failure. He was a person and not ‘just a cat’. (No cat is, of course). I have two kittens now, playing around the house, but I’ll always miss my last boy – we moved house together and he knew where I came from before. The kittens probably think I’ve always lived here. 🙂

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