Gatsby’s Story Will Never Be Over
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Photographs by Shawn MacKenzie
Post Created Tuesday 30th July 2013
Posted On Wednesday 31st July 2013
[born] Gatsby 2011 [died FIP] 29th July 2013
Gatsby-mum to Poe Parker Carter three kittens born 22nd April 2012
My meeting Gatsby for the first time was a wake up surprise. Shawn walked in while I was sleeping. Told me she had a surprise. I had wanted another kitten after our wonderful Spootiepaws died a short while back from cancer. Her death broke my heart. She was there with me in the late nights of writing and creating.
Gatsby with a promising look. We were going to love her and give her home for the rest of her life.
When I woke up, Shawn placed a cat carrier on the bed, opened it up and out jumped Gatsby. Of course, that wasn’t her name then. She was so affectionate, wanting to be pet over and over, rubbing both our hands, Shawn’s and mine. I have never seen such enthusiasm of love be so demonstrative immediately, seconds after meeting me.
What a surprise. I estimated her to be about 6 to 8 mos old. A kitten in all her playfulness. Surprise! I was so happy to have another member to our family and felt such immediate love for her.
Now we have a naming process in our home. We keep saying out names, seeing if they fit. We make lists. Give them time to sink in. Rate the names in a hierarchy. I am an avid F. Scott Fitzgerald fan and I love his book The Great Gatsby. Now you have to know we name all out animals, particularly cats with the first letter of “S” — it’s a peculiarity or eccentricity.
Confusing at times when you go to call one of them in particular. We have Sanji, Soyer, Spike, Sigmund, and Schroeder. We did have a Stuart Vincent Little, who lived a full life, and mentioned Spootiepaws earlier. Our parrot is named Saki, also. We do have a degue named Squeak and two chinchillas named Sagan and Sundance.
Sanji-an ally amongst the rest. Acted like a big brother. Watched out for the wee ones.</em>
We went off course, though, when Gatsby arrived. We broke with tradition. Somehow, Gatsby’s name came up. I’m sure from both Shawn and myself. The rest of the list is gone from my mind now. I use to call her momma, or mother. She was like NaNa in Peter Pan. She kept us all in line. And she really did rule like a protective mother. She only let Sanji downstairs for the first months of her kittens lives. But I am getting ahead too soon.
On April 16th 2012 we found out from the vet Gatsby was pregnant
We felt after a week the vet should give her a once over for her health. When Shawn got home she told me the “good” news (to me it was) and Shawn just wasn’t so sure about that idea. She wanted to give the kittens away after they were born and old enough to leave home.
Gatsby looking very pregnant
I pouted. No way. I was going to do that. We came to a compromise eventually, I would let one of the kittens go to another home. (Secretly, no way was that going to happen.) Shawn didn’t want that either after we got the contest going for the kittens, when would they be born and how many. Niamh Clune won the when and I won the how many.
First day babies were born April 22nd 2012
In the middle of the night on the softness and cushiness of the bed, Gatsby went into labor on April 22nd 2012. OMG the sound shattered glass. We both, Shawn and I, sat around Gatsby, trying to reassure her and assist in anyway possible. With each birth, the pain diminished. She was so efficient cleaning up each one immediately after they were born. All three were so tiny and so adorable.
Gatsby and kits sleeping on mat in new bathroom with sun shining in on them. They loved that spot
This was the perfect moment to put in my pleas. We have to keep them. We were for one brief moment going to give the orange one with the most white away. No way. Not if either of us had a say. We gave them names. So they would start out life with some sort of individual identity.
Gatsby clan snuggling
The only old name that I recall was Scout. Scout became Carter aka Sparky & for a short while a nickname of Spanky. But now he is the Little Prince Carter. And we were going to choose him to be the one to give away.
Babies and Gatsby snuggling on floor in living room
I fell in love with them all, but most of all, I fell in love and so did Shawn, with Carter, the smallest and the grandest of Gatsby’s children. Carter has a posture like someone Oscar Wilde would write about in a play as a grand character. We never did give any away even though some people kept wanting to take Carter.
Baby Carter in his first box by himself
He was our charmer. He will always be our charmer. The sweetest of natures ever to be present in a Little Prince of Orange and some white. The eyes melt your heart. Carter’s eyes are so soulful. He was the slow starter, so he had to fight harder to do everything.
Prince Carter attempting to wink as he is sitting proud and brave in his favorite cat carrier.
They all loved their mother intensely. The other two were given the fine names of Poe (b/c I am a Poe addict) and Parker, for the many Parkers, i.e Dorothy Parker.
Poe is 2 1/2 months old
Carter was named after a Wendy Wasserstein character in her play Uncommon Women. They may be names of woman but they are manly names just the same even if the boys are just so sweet. Carter is definitely metro-sexual.
Babies with Gatsby snuggling. Carter is the one with the white on top in center
Parker is the tough outer skin but with gentleness inside.
Parker with Sundance one of our chinchillas
Poe is the super-demonstratively-most-affectionate kitten of them all. He could be pet for days and he would not want you to ever stop.
Poe at 3 1/2 months
For the first month of their life there regular spot was usually with Mom Gatsby or on my lap or chest, sleeping soundly. Now I thought that would instill there wanting to continue the tradition when they got older, Nope. They like to sleep on beds and feet but no laps except Gatsby and that lap was Shawn’s. I rather tried to protect the egregiously overlooked cats that Gatsby confined to upstairs. So we were always having a struggle with balancing insecurities and tempers. I loved Gatsby and wanted her to love me.
Gatsby clan snuggling
Then there was the first night I was left to babysit. The kittens were maybe just over a week old at the time. Gatsby was feeding them on the bed on the first floor. Shawn was at her writers group. All was going well. I kept an eye on them while I made myself a pasta dinner. I put the sauce on in the microwave. Homemade, my own recipe. The water was boiling. In with the pasta and salt. I went back and forth to be sure all was okay with the kits and mom.
Gatsby being gutsy hiding the babies while I wasn’t looking. Who Me.
Well, I left the room one too many times. A 15 second stir of the pasta so it wouldn’t stick ended up with me entering the room they were cozy in. Surprise! They were GONE. DISAPPEARED. OMG!!! I looked and listened for sound of any kind. Gatsby hid the kittens. WHERE??? I was starting to get just a touch frantic looking every place possible. Called Shawn, got her cell – voice mail – left frantic message – COME HOME RIGHT AFTER WRITERS GROUP ENDED — KITTENS MISSING. That was the vocal message. No response so I sent an urgent text. Still no response.
I united pasta to sauce and put in a covered dish and proceeded to look for the little guys some more. Finally, I found them. They were as far out of reach as possible behind my reclining chair, which was kitten proofed. It was a dangerous spot to crawl into and impossible to get anyone out from under. Thank goodness we foresaw that possibility.
Gatsby so proud of herself. I couldn’t eat until I found her hiding place
Ok, how was I going to get them out? I couldn’t reach with my arms. Too deep. Way back. Smart. I thought they are sleeping on a towel we placed behind there where the cats liked to sleep. I tried easing the towel out. No luck. A cane. A wooden cane. I used it ever so gingerly and was able to retrieve each kitten one at a time. Keep in mind, once I had a kitten, I could not put him down or Gatsby would take him someplace else to hide.
Gatsby Parker and Poe
Eventually, I had collected them all. Never even woke up. So here I am with an arm full of kittens. I could actually hold them all in one hand if held against my body. I got my food. By now it was cold spaghetti. Not bad. With the kittens asleep in my left hand I placed the pasta bowl on my lap and with one hand, my right, I eat my dinner very carefully. It tasted good and I was hungry after all that excitement. It wasn’t over though.
Gatsby nursing kids. That’s what she wanted to do so I told her she could get in my lap and do it there. She took me up on the offer while I ate and we all waited for Shawn to return
Gatsby kept wanting to take the kittens away from me, but I wasn’t about to let her hide them again. Told her if she wanted to, she could climb onto my lap and feed them while I held her and the kittens. She seemed to like this idea. Told her I wasn’t letting them go until Shawn got home and set up a deep box behind my reclining chair, with lots of soft cloth to make a bed. Gatsby could have her space and keep her kittens safe in that place and after all she was the one who chose it.
Gatsby clan snuggling
Well, to come to an end of this saga, Shawn did just that after she got home. I relayed the story to her. So that is where the kittens spent most of their sleeping and nursing time. Only one entrance that Gatsby had to protect. They came out several times a day to be held and socialized with us and the other cats when Gatsby would allow them to come near her charges.
Bungalow for Gatsby clan. They sacked out here often
The rest of the story was all about balancing the hierarchy and trying to stop aggression between who was going to protect who. Sanji was Gatsby’s ally. He is a very large Black Maine Coon mix.
Sanji the big brave Big Brother and Protector for Gatsby to keep her babies Poe Parker and Carter safe and give her reassurance
No one messes with him so that meant no on messed with the kits and mom. But she actually took care of any transgressions herself. She was one fierce M*ther F@#ker. I wouldn’t want her mad at me.
Gatsby with Poe Parker and Carter looking right at you
Eventually, all settled down and everyone could come and go except Soyer. She was constantly in a state of WTF. She didn’t know when to feel safe. We tried to reassure her. I was on her side and Gatsby was with Shawn. Soyer was originally a stray wild kitten that Shawn gave me as a coming home present from the hospital. It took her a long while to catch her and bring her inside.
Gatsby clan on stove vent
Now that Gatsby is no longer with us, Soyer is the only beneficiary. I am sure she will not miss the animosity. But the rest of us feel her loss in a painful and really sad and tearful way. She gave us the present of Carter-Poe & Parker, who I sometimes like to call Patrick. I have odd nicknames for a lot of the animals. They respond so they don’t seem to mind.
Carter and Gatsby loved hanging out in the basket on top of the degues habitat
It is awfully quiet in our home today. The fans are off but it’s more then that. A huge spirit that embodied so much love. I was always trying to win her favour. Always doing special things for her. I wanted her to love me and I believe if given more time she would have come around and realized just how much I loved her. On the first day, I was and she was able to show that affection and love. But now she is gone and I will never get to know her as well as I would have wanted to. I gave her a lot of affection over the last days of her life and she let me. I would try to every other day before that but she was being stubborn. But I just kept trying. I am a very determined female, just as she was.
Prince Carter will be the wise one and guide his brothers through. He may be the last born and the latest to develop but he is filled with soul and heart. He is the chosen one. The one that will work together with Sanji to guide the clan as Gatsby watches over us to be sure all goes well.
Prince Carter of Wisdom and Truth. This young boy is one of the three gifts Gatsby gave to us. She would want us to keep him safe along with his brothers Poe and Parker. She came to us for a home and we gave it to her and in return she gave us the blessings of love in the highest scores possible.
Losing her and losing so many of our animals is so painful but it doesn’t stop us from opening our home to a kitty who needs a good home, food and love. And some little critters that are in need, also.
Escape Into the Unknown — Remember When It Rained
Gatsby you came to us from out of the freezing rain and scary night to escape from the storms and you found a home filled with love for you. It may have been a short time but your stay with us was an experience of life and love. A place to leave your charges where they will be safe and well looked after for all of their lives. This we promised you when you came into our family, your family, and your children, our children’s family. You will always be with us in their hearts as they have their adventures in life. They will always know love and care. Most important they will have a family who will cherish them forever as we cherished you and they adored and loved you. You were the best mum ever a kitten could have been so lucky to be born to.
This story was for you Gatsby. I just wanted you to know how much we shared even if you didn’t let on you knew that already. I am going to miss you. Your kids are going to wonder where is their mom. Why did she just disappear? And Shawn’s heart is broken because once again she has been robbed of being able to have her tortoiseshell cat that she’s always wanted to love. It seems they are always taken away from her long before its time for them to go.
Gatsby with a promising look. We were going to love her and give her home for the rest of her life.
Goodbye Gatsby. We have all your music videos and photos that Shawn took and made. You will always be remembered. Your little guys will keep your memory alive probably for the rest of their lives and ours. Love is what we will always feel for you and we will take great care of your kids for you. You know we have always loved them and we will love them and you forever.
One of Two of Gatsby’s Mothers…
@>-;— play with all of our other charges. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms and lots of stories and lots of time to play forever until we someday can join you all.
In Memory of Gatsby — Created by Jennifer Kiley
The Swan from the Carnival of Animals — Yo-Yo Ma
The following is a treat for all of Gatsby’s Kids. They love their TV Set. I thought I would show some samplings from the viewing that they do on it. A few still shots and a video of the entertainment. I think Gatsby would approve. She enjoy this program herself. In Memory of Gatsby I present the Tuck and Gonzo Show. Stay Tuned.
Tuck and Gonzo, the exotic in orange and the darker one wild. They are the kittens TV, especially Parker and Poe. Carter is not as interested.
Mice running on wheel having fun while being a TV Set for some cute adorable kittens, almost cats.