Third floor overhaul and painting after the Panleuk babies.
Our third floor is the kitten room… it’s empty because Panleukopenia is deathly contagious– anything that cannot be sterilized must be tossed.
I’ve thrown away everything: rugs, furniture, cat towers… for the things that must stay: the walls, the floor— I’m going to paint; I am afraid that bleach and scrubbing are not enough… I am afraid to miss one tiny germ.
Preparing to paint is an enormous task and I would give anything to skip it, but I must feel certain that it’s safe.
Scrubbing like a tornado is super hard when you literally cannot see out of your face.
Scrubbing turned out to be equivalent to telling my brain– NOW IS THE TIME TO RELIVE ALL OF THE HORROR…. be sure you really GET IN THERE and roll around in THE MOST HEARTBREAKING DETAILS.
This next part is sad. You can skip by going to the next photo.
The tiniest little one… his death was terrible. And it returns to me. The remembering of it is awful. Overnight he faded. When I found him, he was actively dying. It was obvious. But I refused to see. I WILLED myself to BELIEVE that if I could get to the vet in time they could give him something and it would be okay… I drove as fast as I could in my pajamas.
Finding him was the most terrible feeling I have ever known… he had collapsed between the litter box and the heated bed. Overnight he had the worst diarrhea you can imagine. So much brown water. And he always tried to use the box. Always. And that’s where I found him— collapsed near the litter. He could not make it back to the heat. And so when I found him he was cold.
Knowing he was cold while he was dying.
It breaks me.
I wrapped him up and took a microwaved heat pack and talked to him. Stay here. Stay here. We are almost there and they will fix you… The only way that ride could have been worse would have been if I understood what was really happening.
Anyway. My point is that engaging in the aftermath of deep-cleaning brought it back so strongly that I simply could not… below is my tiny man, his sister is here, and his big brother is here.
View this post on Instagram
After the kittens died, Marilyn lined up right behind them, and Paul was staying at his parents while his mom received hospice… it was a lot.
I’m only now feeling ready to get going… I’ve scrubbed about half the molding; I’ve not started on the stair spindles because torture.
The horrible crying is still there but I’m flogging myself through it because the only cure is kittens.
The third floor’s flooring is already painted, (as it was when we moved here)… I had originally wanted to paint the floor white, but Paul talked me out of it.
Yes, white shows dirt. It’s also light and bright. And my favorite thing about this space is how BRIGHT it is.
Here is a photo of white primer on the floor the first time we painted… I loved it white… but Paul… so I compromised on blue… I was into it for about two minutes, after which I hated it and regretted not insisting on what lived in my head.
Previous owners had it painted a dark-wood-tone… and after living with a light floor, I do see the appeal of dark, even though a light bright space is absolutely my favorite thing and I literally just typed the words that I regretted not-white… I still said to Paul about maybe we should consider dark, and he was all, I REALLY THINK WHITE WILL MAKE THE SPACE NICER.
Oh interesting, Paul.
Did we consider finishing the floor back to “real” wood? Yes.
The original random-width boards were painted before us, and probably 57 times before that… the amount of sanding to get all the nooks of paint would be AGGRESSIVE.
If we wanted to finish, we would probably choose to install the same nail-down-2-inch that is in the rest of the house… but that makes no sense to me now that this is a space for wildhooligan fluffdumplings… keeping it a WORKROOM where I can drag the big dog crate, put water dishes without nine layers to protect the floor… all that stuff.
Plus, a bright floor immediately alerts the cleaning crew to the band’s after-hours activities.
This post is not well-written or well-edited but I’m done because I have to go scrub.
What I’m reading:
Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich.
A while ago I mentioned that I was re-reading and re-LOVING Those Who Save Us… Frauen is referenced in her acknowledgments.
The spectrum of ways that humanity responds to the OPTION for compassion… I’ve been thinking about this.
Here is a page of my favorite books.
PS: In case you were thinking how PRACTICAL the previous owners were about choosing paint… BEHOLD.
Here are before-photos of this house.
Here is the index of our front porch project… not only was it purple it was also ORANGE.
March 29, 2019 @ 10:57 am
You do so much good, but are you sure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard? You have such a tender, sensitive heart, and it sounds like it’s taking a toll on you. You can’t help anyone else if you’re physically and mentally depleted. Please take care of yourself!
March 29, 2019 @ 10:58 am
Oh, VEB!!!! I am so SO SORRY!
March 29, 2019 @ 11:05 am
I didn’t understand one word of this but in case it was very sad – condolences. Sorry.
March 29, 2019 @ 11:30 am
Oh, I would give anything to have that kind of space to “bring in the kittens”….anxiously awaiting your kitten posts in the near future and hoping it helps you heal…..
March 29, 2019 @ 11:39 am
i’m so sorry for your loss
March 29, 2019 @ 11:40 am
Thank you for the love and care you provided those kittens. They knew they were loved during their short little lives. Sending you healing energy to help you get through the scrubbing and your tears.
March 29, 2019 @ 11:40 am
As a fellow cat rescuer I knew immediately what you were going to say before I read all the words. I know those frantic trips to the vet to try to save a dying creature, the fear that you keep tamped down as you accelerate as fast as safely possible, and then the inevitable “I’m so sorry…”
Today marks the ninth anniversary of my baby boy, Ashton’s, first day with us. He was a day old, tiny tiny tiny and so trusting. I fought hard to save him, to save my husband, to fix the world that allowed kittens to be abandoned by their mother and cancer to exist. The kitten lived, and thrived. But he got sick last November and before I could do whatever it was I could, he died. I held him, and when my now ex-husband came in to check on him I had to sob out that Ashton was gone. Six weeks later my ex-husband died. No one can tell me one isn’t related to the other.
Now I scrub. Scrub everything I can get my hands on because I don’t know what killed either one. I have no answers. I scrub and organize and try to move forward.
Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of a young woman named Ashton’s death, from cancer. I never met her but her life and journey was so soul-touching that I named the abandoned kitten after her. Ashton’s mom loved that, felt that her daughter still lived just a little bit in the tiny orange kitten we nurtured.
I sobbed all the way through your post. I feel your pain and thank you for writing about it. The world has been a tough place to be as of late.
March 29, 2019 @ 11:46 am
As you re-do this space, do not remember the details of their death, remember the details of their life and their unconditional kitten love. If they could tell you the same, they would. Bring positivity and love to this room, because someday it will be a kitten room again. When we lost our 16yr old cats just 3 months apart, I could only focus on their death, and I could not stop crying (ugly ruin-your-mascara cry). Then it dawned on me, I was not allowing myself to feel their love. Now I focus on that and believe when they left us, they left all the love they had for us with us, and took all the love we had for them with them so we are never without each other. Focus on the good.
March 29, 2019 @ 1:43 pm
Stacey Clark, I want you to know your story about them taking all the love we gave them with them and vice versa…It’s brought a bit of comfort to me since losing my dad and several pets in a short span of time. I’ve heard people say “think of the happy memories” but it’s not the same eloquent way of saying that all the love is still ours. Thank you. And Elizabeth, I am so very sorry for your loss.
March 29, 2019 @ 2:56 pm
Stacy, that was so helpful and right about sharing the love, always and forever.
I watch our little adopted cats breathing and sleeping and my heart is filled with love. I try to save up as much as possible to get us through any hard times in the future.
Victoria, you are an amazing person. That sweet little kitten knew you went all out to give him a completely loved life which you did.
I like that you are cleaning the space up for more kitties to love in honor of him. Your wit and sense of humor will get you through this hard time too.
March 29, 2019 @ 9:58 pm
Stacey Clark, your thoughts on the love we give and receive from our furry children moved me. Really a beautiful way to explain how I’ve felt since the loss of our Bailey. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. I am sending light and love to VEB, all who posted on this page, and all who share in the joy of sharing life with animals/grief in their loss.
I wouldn’t trade a day of it, even knowing the cost of saying goodbye.
March 29, 2019 @ 11:46 am
My heart is breaking for you. My husband walked in and asked what was wrong and I started sobbing while trying to tell him the sad story. I can’t imagine your grief. Such trusting, loving souls. We have four kitties and the oldest one is very frail and has a difficult time walking. She’s dozing on a heating pad next to me. They give so much love and ask for so little in return.
March 29, 2019 @ 12:09 pm
I’m so very sorry you lost your sweet little kitten. I have never heard of Panleukomenia. It must be something known by a more common name.
March 29, 2019 @ 12:14 pm
OK. Feline distemper. It makes me so sad to hear this. I’m so very sorry Victoria.
March 29, 2019 @ 12:41 pm
I don’t believe our words can change the deep grief you feel but I have found a life philosophy in the children’s song
Row, row row your boat,gently down the stream
merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.
It tells me that I must row my own boat,think and act for myself and not mind someones else’s business.
To be positive and merry with each day and leave of yesterday that which was negative and be merry about the positive.
When our little boats pass round the bends and storms of our life stream,the past is gone from sight and a new day dawns. Stick with the dream -avoid the nightmares
Grief can become a whirlpool that spins us round and takes us down for far too long and so hard that it begins to encompass all frustration and disappointment,almost addictive.
I apologize for the amateur attempt at advice,it is sent with care and concern for a person I admire greatly and wish her happier times ASAP
March 29, 2019 @ 1:33 pm
I was a devoted, enraptured fan before this post. I flacked your blog to everyone I could. But now…
Now I love you and wish I could adopt you as my little sister, you sweet, impossibly darling floofball-loving girl..l
March 29, 2019 @ 1:45 pm
My heart aches for you… Heads bowed. knees bent. Asking for peace with this pain.
March 29, 2019 @ 1:47 pm
Victoria, we have been kitten foster parents for 10 years and have also had a few bouts with PanLeuk, with similarly devastating experiences. Holding a dying kitten and trying to save it/comfort it has to be one of the most difficult things we’ve ever experienced. I’m so sorry you had to go through it. Hugs.
Our Humane Society gave us a spray bottle of a special disinfectant called Accel after our first PanLeuk case. We clean obsessively too but we also sprayed this anywhere the kitten has been as an extra precaution. We also waited 6 months before getting another. We have had LOTS of kittens since and none have been infected and our house is a similar 1900 victorian with lots of nooks and crannies that make it hard to feel like you can possibly get it 100% sterilized.
Sending hugs, and thank you for what you do for the kittens, and for the passionate posts you share about animal cruelty. I have followed you for years and think you are wonderful.
March 29, 2019 @ 3:55 pm
Losing a cat is it’s own particular hell. I would give you a hug if I could. Be extra gentle with yourself.
March 29, 2019 @ 7:31 pm
Your story about broke me. I’m sorry for you and for the kittens but happy you will keep saving cats.
Marianne in Mo.
March 29, 2019 @ 8:40 pm
I won’t comment on your pain; it would only put it on your mind again. But I will instead comment on the lovely space you have for fluffkins to feel secure in. It is beautiful, and I want to be a stray cat so I can find a lovely space in your third floor to build my confidence! As for the spindles and railing, why not just use a clear poly coat? You could spray it on (with ventilation!) very quickly and be done. Just lay something protective over the flooring and stairs so the overspray doesn’t land where you don’t want it. Boom – done!
March 29, 2019 @ 9:41 pm
I am so sorry. I clean when I am mad, but I can see cleaning when you are sad.
March 29, 2019 @ 11:19 pm
Oh, my, such sadness and regret are hard to cope with. I hope you know you gave them the best life that they possibly could have had. Understanding that nothing is permanent here on earth is the toughest of the many tough life lessons. I wish I knew how to tell you to understand it, but I cannot, because I do not know. What I do know is that experiencing this pain cracks you wide open, bringing you closer to the answer. Sending you much love and light and understanding.