Shoe Monster ~ Caregiver Training 101

When I say I have been a primary caregiver twice to someone who was dying, its technically not true; there have been 4x actually. This is the story of my first time.

Kitty Litter ~ Shoe Monster & Gizmo April 1991

I was married for 9 years from August 4th 1990 to November 19, 1999. On February 14 1991 I choose from a litter of 4 kittens the little gray female one in the middle of the other 3 little white & gray boys. They were 1 hour old. When they were 8 weeks somehow my friend managed to convince me to take the 2 boys with me as well. I should have known better. So I went from having 1 cat, Maxie, to 4 of the fluffy feline beasty’s.

Now Maxie was, how shall we say, ………psychotic. She really seemed like she thought everyone was out to get her.  Our rural vet once cleared his throat at one of her exams and said “I actually never thought I’d ever say this, because I don’t know if I agree with it, but this cat might benefit from Prosaic”. Ah Peden, love the man. Our family went to his little rural location for years. He was your typical rural vet….if he wasn’t standing in some barn with his whole arm up some cows arse, he was giving Fluffy or Spot a vaccination.

Pop Case Kittens – 1991

Maxie hated the kittens. I think she must have thanked her cat gods when at least one of the wee terrors left later the same day. Maxie didn’t know it yet, but her days were numbered. So, a year later we finally put her down. Well, anyways, long story short….Shoe Monster (boy) and Gizmo (girl) of course both stayed.

Shoe Monster acquired his moniker first and foremost, he was a monster. However, the first night he was home he spent the night with his head lodged in my shoe. Did not look comfortable at all, but maybe it smelled like his nest at his old home. Gizmo, well because when she was little she had great big GIANT ears, and this little wee head attached to this fat little kitten tummy; from the front she looked like Gizmo from ‘The Gremlins’ movie.

A Long time ago, in a land far far away…. probably like 1994 – that is my hair BTW…took a whole 2 days to get it all that stuff out

So merrily 8 or so years pass by and then WHAM. My whole world shattered. There are a lot of stories I can tell about my ex-husband and I, but lets just say that a lot of pain and suffering was had by all. Lets also say that Clinical Depression is not pretty, and that childhood abuse left unacknowledged becomes like a WWII explosive buried in the backyard. Well, one day the earth shook, I don’t know…. maybe Jupiter aligned with Pluto….but it went off and all those in its wake were wounded.

I kicked him out, starved myself, moved in with my girlfriend 5 months later, dragging poor Shoe and Gizmo with me. One of the reasons he said he didn’t love me was because I didn’t do the dishes, or cook. Well fine then, I thought, go live with your sister she’ll do those things for you AND she’s a Social Worker so she can straighten your damn head out.

Genevieve, Mom & Me 2000

In the wake of the disaster my girlfriend and I had both got hit with the shrapnel – her just as much as I. So we licked our wounds, lay on the couch Monday nights and listened to CBC Radio’s Monday Night Play house, and drank gallons upon gallons of the best dang red wine our budgets would allow {and a few they really didn’t allow for….numnumnum}.

Now at some point in those first few months Shoe Monster developed Liver Disease – he was 10 yrs old. My Mom was alive then so she donated $3000 or so to the save my kitty cat fund, and 3 months of 3x a day feedings through a tube into his stomach and a bag of saline/day later….and I was a basket case, but he was healthy and hail. You really haven’t lived until you’ve had to poke a sick cat with a hollow needle then try to get him to stay still for 20 minutes. So I used the palm under his belly, high in the air technique. Worked like a charm, wiggle all ya want….as I’m sitting on the bed with this sick cat up above my head….I must have looked like some demented Statue of Cat Liberty or something.

Shoe Monster – 2006

However the most fun would have to have been the 3x a day feeding with a syringe through a feeding tube. Once before work, once the minute I got home, and the third 4 hours after that. The times varied because I was working in a Call Centre and worked anywhere from 6AM-1PM all the way to the finally rotation of 1Pm – 9PM. Fun stuff. Jolly fun stuff. If you did it too quickly you’d have to start ALL over again because he’d puke it up. Its unsettling to know you have the life of another living being literally in the palm of your hand; A being whose life means the world to you at a time when so many things in your world have shattered. Those were difficult times.

I know…..CRAZY. Crazy crazy crazy, spending that kinda money on a “free” mangy old cat…who may have 1? Maybe 2 years left? OK, I love Gizzimodo, the wee Tyger that she was, but Shoe Monster wrapped his little self round my heart one day and until he died at 17 years old …..did not let go. Yes, Shoe Monster lived another 7 years. I put Shoe down July of 2008, three months later I met Tim.

To this very day I miss my Shoe Monster, and I know I will the rest of my life. He was my “familiar”. He met me at the door when I got home from work, would follow me around until I sat down, then plant himself as close to me as he could. There are times when I’m sitting here at the computer and I can almost feel his warm, purring little body wrapped up in a ball beside me. I had a friend once say to me “I’ve never seen a cat look at anyone like the way he looks at you, he really really loves you, he adores you”……and I said “well he should, I saved his furry little arse”. :)


  1. rarasaur

    A beautiful story! I know, there’s hardships and pain and sickness and trauma in it… but it also had love, friendship, cat-awesomeness, and real life heroes. So yep, I’m sticking with my word choice — beautiful.


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