It’s rare that we get everything that we want at the same time. Sometimes, happy occasions are counteracted with sad ones. I handed in the manuscript for my book this past Saturday. That same day, I got a text from my mom saying that my beloved Siamese cat, Coco, had to be put to sleep. I had known this was coming since Christmas, but knowledge and distance didn’t make the news completely easy to take.
Coco and I had been through a lot together. Some of you may remember me posting photos on here when I first got her. I adopted Coco from the Southern California Siamese Rescue in May 2009. I was in my post-college-trying-to-figure-out-my-life phase and was going through a bit of depression and loneliness. I decided I wanted to adopt a cat, and so started looking online for those available in my general area. Then I saw Coco’s picture on the SoCal Siamese website, and was immediately won over by her beauty and obvious diva-ish attitude. Also, come on, Coco? Coco Bean? It was destiny.
I drove two hours to Burbank where she was being fostered by a British couple. They told me that she was very timid, had been abandoned, had some dental work done, and had been in a few foster homes previously because she didn’t get along with other cats and had a tendency to hide a lot. I went into the bathroom and found her huddled behind the toilet. She had nowhere to run but she let me pet her and I took her home with me. It took her a few days to start warming up to her new surroundings, but from then on, we were pals.
Then, about five months in, she stopped eating, began sleeping all day, and was drooling quite a bit. A trip to the vet revealed that she had an unfortunately common problem with Oriental cats: stomatitis. Her gums became so infected that within a few months, I was faced with the option of giving her back to the shelter and having her put down, or paying for a very expensive surgery to have all of her teeth removed. The stress of the situation was overwhelming. I didn’t have enough money to pay the vet bills – I wasn’t expecting a sick cat right off the bat – but I had promised to be her “forever home.” So, I turned to tumblr and twitter for help, and amazingly, total strangers reached out to chip in. Within a week, I’d raised enough money to pay for her surgery. Talk about tears of gratitude on this end. After a bit of a rough recovery, Coco was like a completely new cat – still skittish and only let me pet her, but definitely not as reclusive as she had been.
When I got accepted to grad school and moved to London, I took Coco up north to live with my parents and she ended up taking to my dad. Not surprising, considering he’s basically an animal whisperer. But she still remembered me when I came home for visits, and every weekend when I Skyped with my parents, I’d ask for a Coco report.
A few months ago, my dad said she had started limping. She was older so we thought maybe she had arthritis. The limp didn’t go away and when I was home for the holidays, an x-ray revealed she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her arm. I was devastated by the diagnosis. I’d only adopted her four years ago and she’d had a rough life. It wasn’t fair that this should happen to this poor little creature. We decided that, given the circumstances and cost, we would forego amputation and let life take its course. I’d been home for three weeks and although she let me pet her when she was sleeping it was only on the very last night I was home that she came and curled up next to me on my bed like she used to.
My heart aches, but I think my mom was right when she said that I’d given Coco the best four years of her life, and I’m so glad I got to say goodbye. We’re lucky we found each other.
So, RIP, pretty Cocobean. May your sassiness reign in the next life.
VivAndLarry.com is an historical archive and film blog dedicated to preserving the memories of classic screen and stage stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, and to the discussion of classic Hollywood and world cinemas. The site is designed and edited by Kendra Bean, a film scholar, writer and photographer living in London. What you'll find here: A cabinet of curiosities brimming with vintage articles, video footage, the largest archive of Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier photos on the Web, and much, much more.
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Read Vivien Leigh: Becoming Scarlett by Kendra Bean in issue no. 75 of Bright Lights Film Journal
Read Kendra's article Style Icon: Vivien Leigh at The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower
My running list of films watched in 2013.