Saying Goodbye to Slinky Malinki

slinky-december-15hWhen you love unconditionally, you permanently wear your heart on your sleeve. When you love a cat, you turn a blind eye to the fact that you will most likely outlive them.

I knew Slinky was at the end of her life, and I somehow thought I could prepare myself for what was to come. I know better.

Still.

Slinky died at home Monday night, resting on a soft blanket on the heated tile floor. I was with her off and on most of the day, but she took her last breath in the ten minutes I was gone to pick up my son. Mike stepped into the garage to let me know when we returned. She quietly slipped away. I sobbed.

Back inside, I held her frail little body, wracked with grief. Her eyes were a giveaway that she was no longer there, but it was hard to let go.

Slinky Malinki captured my heart, not because of her sweet disposition and loving ways but in spite of them. She showed up as a stray on the steps of our front deck about six years ago. We had a bowl of dry food out for another cat we were feeding at the time and she helped herself. I mistook her confidence for friendliness, and she took a swing at me with open claws and then left.

She returned every few days, and gradually spent more time with us on the deck. She wrapped herself around our legs, but if you reached down to pet her, out came the claws, or worse. One afternoon I was sitting on the steps and she sunk her teeth into the back of my arm. Hard.

Then one day, out of the blue, my oldest son bent down, picked her up, and carried her into the house. She froze in fear, but I was so happy to know we could catch her and get her to the vet. A week later I took her in for a checkup. They confirmed that she was already spayed and she checked out for all the scary things.

We tried to make her an indoor cat, but she wanted no part of it. I did the next best thing and made a little “apartment” in our sheltered side yard. She had an elevated bed, enclosed on four sides, with a roof and an umbrella to keep her dry. She had her meals outside for a year.

Once again, it was time for an annual check up, so I brought her indoors over night, then spirited her off the next day. It was after that second visit, and nearly a year and a half that she decided to move in. She claimed a spot under my desk, then moved to the back of the desk and life got better from there. I gained her trust, not all at once, but slowly over months and months. She hated being picked up, and I did so on an as-needed basis but also to let her know it was okay. Slinky had no interest in lap sitting either. Yet she would come to the front of the desk, give me gentle head butts, and gradually we became trusted friends.

Then an amazing thing happened. I had foot surgery last November, requiring me to be off my feet for six weeks. Slinky started climbing up on the couch, then settled herself on the blankets around my injured foot.  What a gift! At a time when I was in pain and feeling fragile, Slinky stayed close by. There is perhaps no better medicine than a warm, purring cat.

slinky-on-my-foot

Slinky resting next to my healing foot

slinky-next-to-copy-of-book

Slinky stretched out across my legs. That’s the corner of my laptop with a photo of the Slinky Malinki children’s book for which she’s named.

I miss her sweet, little soul.

65 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Slinky Malinki

    • That is indeed where she got her name. We have one of the Slinky Malinki books, and as we were searching for a name it occurred to me that our kitty looked a lot like the Slinky Malinki character (though our Slinky is female). If you look above, there is a photo of the book add from Amazon with a picture of the character.

      Thank you for your kind words. A visit to New Zealand is on my list.

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  1. I can see why you miss her so much, having fought so hard but so gently for her affection. I find it harder and harder to say goodbye to beloved animals, which is perhaps the main reason we have no companion animals just now. Perhaps when we are much, much older and can hope to reach the end of life’s adventure together…

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    • Kate, perhaps it reminds us of our own mortality, not something I gave much thought to in my twenties or thirties. It is painful to say goodbye, but the quality of life with them in it makes it worthwhile for me. It also feels good to save a least one kitty from the streets, while continuing to advocate for spay and neuter. I wish I knew Slinky’s back story.

      I hope you find the love of an animal once again, as you say in your later years. πŸ™‚

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      • I had a brush with mortality at a young age when I lost my mother, and have been able to look it in the eye ever since, particularly since my own brush with cancer. I was an urban solitary most of my life despite having a large and noisy family, and longing for a companion animal is part of my nature now! But our life is too irregular and we travel too much to give an abandoned animal a secure-feeling home, at least until the Husband retires.

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        • Kate, I’m sorry to read that you lost your mother at a young age. Those losses are acute when we’re at an age too young to fully process and when we still need our parents very much. I was 9 when my father died. It felt like a canon shot a hole through our lives.

          I agree that with a lot of travel it would be unfair to take in an abandoned animal. You have such a good heart.

          Cancer is such a scary thing, yet more and more, people recover and move on to many more quality years of life. Good for you.

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  2. Oh Alys, I had a good sob for you when I read this. How sad for you. I know what it is like to lose a loved and loving pet. What a good home she had with you though. πŸ™‚ Take care and I am thinking of you! xx

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  3. The tears are flowing when I think how hard it must have been for you to get through your post. Gentle hugs (( Alys )). Dearest little Slinky, you found the right home to share your love. It’s so hard to say goodbye, I completely understand Kate’s message above. Life is so much more complete with the love of our pets, but there’s no escaping the pain and anguish when it’s time for them to go. My heart breaks for you and you’re very brave to share you good bye and all your sweet photo’s. Who knew your surgery recovery would or could be a gift of time with Slinky. I’m really happy you have that to sustain you through this terrible loss. Love you dearly xo Kelly

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    • Thank you, Boomdee. The two of us are cut of the same cloth; I know you feel deeply as I do and that these four legged wonders work their way deep into our hearts and lives. I let the tears flow as I wrote this, and wrote it over a few days. It was nice for me to revisit some of these photos are her timid days, and to realize how content she was when she moved indoors.

      To have her rest on my foot during recovery was a remarkable gift. She’ll always hold a place in my heart.

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  4. Oh, Alys, my heart just breaks for you. I know all too well the grief felt upon losing a beloved four-legged member of the family. How lucky Slinky was to have found such an amazing, caring family to love her. I’m sending virtual hugs your way. ❀️

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    • Thank you, Darlene. We missed you this past Thanksgiving and you’ve been busy with school, so come to think of it, it has been awhile since you visited. I remember your kitty and how hard it was for you when she passed. With Emily away at college, perhaps it’s time for another feline family member?

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  5. This must have been a hard post to prepare Alys, but I am glad you have made this lovely tribute to your special little gal. The photos are wonderful, you have captured something of her kinder nature in them and to hear her story again is so touching. These pets who are a challenge to domesticate eventually claim a special place in our hearts don’t they. My old Moofy, who laid open the nose of a visiting friend one week into her adoption was a twelve year challenge for me, but when she died quietly in my arms I wept a river. I can’t remember if we have talked about this before, the original Slinky Malinki and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy come from New Zealand and are best mates – little kids often tell me that Siddy looks ‘just like Hairy Maclary, only different’. I love that we have shared this connection.
    Sending you love and hugs as you grieve for your little friend. We’ll talk soon xoxo

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    • Pauline, I just let the tears flow as I wrote this, and took breaks as well. It was good for me to revisit all those photos of her. It also reminded me of how many good years we had together. I remember a conversation we had about difficult cats and your old Moofy. I did not know the story of her laying open the nose of a friend. Oh my gosh how painful and how difficult.

      I actually knew about the Slinky Malinki books before I learned that they were based on a character in the Hairy Maclary books, but I don’t think I knew they were from New Zealand. Another wonderful connection, indeed. I love that Siddy has a fan club. “Hairy Maclary only different…” that is so endearing.

      Thank you for your love and hugs. xo

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    • Thank you, Kerry. There was a lot of anxiety wondering if I would wake up one morning and find her gone, but she seemed to hang in there and continued to eat. Once that stopped, it was a short few days till the end, poor old girl. I’m comforted that she died at home and in peace, but I will miss her. I still “hear” her calling out at night. Strange, eh?

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  6. What a lovely tribute, I’m so very sorry for you. Losing a beloved pet is like losing a family member. You just have to hold on to the wonderful memories and be happy that they were a part of your life. As hard as it must have been to write about, I’m sure it was also therapeutic.

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    • It was good to write about Slinky and to revisit her photos. Two of our cats are bruisers, but Slinky, even in her healthier days, was always petite. I’m so glad I have these photos to remember her by, and all the memories that go with it. Thank you! xo

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  7. Thank you for sharing your grief. My Saturday morning tears were for you. Nothing else can be said to comfort you. Time will heal and Kitty’s never ending love will remain in your delightful spirit. You are loved. Jimiji.

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  8. Alys, Slinky knew the right place to call home. She knew she would be loved and somehow knew that she would be able to do it on her terms. This was beautiful tribute to her, such a wonderful, feisty cat! Big hugs to you.

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    • Thank you, Anne. That’s lovely: the thought of her as a feisty cat finding love on her own terms. There were times when progress seemed slow, then sudden leaps of trust. It was an amazing journey. I’ll never forget this sweet, leery, combative and tender cat. xo

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  9. My dear Alys, how deeply I share your grief. I’ve watched Slinky’s evolution with you from the very beginning, marveling at every little bit of progress. My heart was filled with joy over each subtle demonstration of Slinky’s growing trust and love for you. I have no doubt that she expressed her gratitude for all you did to make her life safe and comfortable. You shared a very special bond, forged over those too-brief years. There is some comfort to be taken that Slinky passed away peacefully at home. You might not have been with her at the exact moment of her last breath, but she knew she was surrounded by your love. This is ultimately the best we can ever hope for at the end of a precious life.

    As Slinky’s condition deteriorated over the past couple years, I braced myself for the inevitable, knowing the day would come when I’d see this very title of your post. Again, I steeled myself before clicking the link, my eyes already filling with tears before the page even loaded. Thank you for so candidly and eloquently sharing your experience with us, allowing us to mourn with you. You’ve paid great honor to Slinky’s life, and the lasting impact her presence made on your — and our — lives. Your photos are absolutely lovely. My heart is with you and your family as you adjust to life without Slinky. I will be thinking of you, and sending you much love and understanding with my deepest sympathy.

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    • Dear Alicia, your wonderful card arrived in the mail today. Thank you for the gorgeous card and for your caring sentiments. We so much appreciate it.

      I’m glad you got to meet Slinky and to see how far she had come. You understand cats in such a profound way, thanks to all the advocacy and outreach you do. I too am grateful that she passed at home. She was comfortable and safe and surrounded by love. That is the only way to go.

      Thank you for reading what you knew would be a difficult post. I appreciate your support and love. Thank you for all you do on behalf of cat rescue everywhere. xo

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  10. Alys, thank you for sharing the story of your life with Slinky. I loved reading of the growth of your relationship and the trust that developed.
    Slinky was so very fortunate to have come across that bowl of food outside your home.
    You are such a caring, compassionate person, Alys. My thoughts and love are with you.

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    • Thank you, Laurie, for your kind words of love and support. I too am happy she arrived on the steps that day, and that she returned and gave us a chance. I celebrated each milestone as she learned to trust. I’m glad she could died at home and in peace and enjoyed the years we did have together. xo

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  11. I’m sorry that you’ve had such a painful loss. Slinky (wonderful name – I swear I know all those books by heart) sounds like a very special cat. And somehow love feels more valuable when it’s hard-won. I hope that you’re finding comfort in small things and managing to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even though you’re grieving. At least you gave Slinky a life that sounds like feline bliss. RIP, Slinky.

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    • Thank you, Phil. It helps to have the love of two other cats, but you are right. There is something about that hard-won love that made every moment with her special. I know we gave her a safe and loving home for the last six years of her life, and hopefully we were able to erase some of her angst along the way.

      The books are wonderful, aren’t they? I miss having young boys to read to. That was one of my favorite things at the end of a long day: reading and snuggling at bed time.

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