The year was 1985 and it was the first kitten birth I’d ever witnessed. Zipper was finally having Ziplets after meeting the orange tabby down the street during an unauthorized night out.
There were two boys and a girl, and all were purrfect. I only saw her give birth to the first one before leaving for work. Somehow, I knew this first kitten for both Zipper and me, was spectacular!
Zipper had already had quite a wild life in her first three months of kitten-hood. She was rescued in Mexico by a San Diego couple. She was covered with fleas and they found her trying to get into a rabbit hutch for safety. I really wanted her when they shared photos at work, but I had to wait them out. They didn’t know how to introduce a new kitten to their current cat and I certainly wasn’t going to enlighten them because then they would keep her. (I know, completely self-serving.)
Waiting and ready to pounce.
It was just a few days until she was up for adoption because current cat, Sneakers, didn’t like her in his space. I picked her up immediately after work that day and she got out of her box on the way home and laid across my shoulders looking out the window for the rest of the ride. She got the name Zipper because she zipped up and down the stairs across the furniture and up the walls playing. For a week, all we saw was a furry white blur. (Little did we know at that time, she would love car rides, windsurfing and win over dog lovers.)
I kept her firstborn kitten and named her Ziplet so Zipper could have her own cat. It was a girl with a long muzzle and big paws. I speculated that if she was a child, she would probably have been bullied in school for being awkward. She was constantly bonking her nose on things as if she didn’t know how long it was. And every bonk made her that much more adorable.
I made the same promise to her I’d made to her mom… that when the time came, I would help her to move on, grateful pets don’t have to suffer like people do when their bodies wear out.
Six months later, during a bath on my bed, to my surprise, I learned she had been hiding a few things… Ziplet was a BOY!
Suddenly, the big paws and galloping crazily down the hall awkwardly made more sense. He and his mom Zipper were best friends. For two years, he continued to play the kitten card and bury his face in her tummy as if he was nursing so she’d lick the top of his head as only a mom-cat can do.
Ziplet and I were attached at the hip for the next 20 years!
We had lots of adventures. He sang in the hallway every morning to the applause of anyone within hearing distance and always answered back when spoken to. He was love personified, outlasting several boyfriends, two fiances and a couple moves.
He would play outside then come in to use the litter box and then go back out. He would come and get me when he found a hurt bird instead of eating it. And he always came when he was called.
At age 15, after a year of being mis-diagnosed by several vets, Ziplet was said to have chronic kidney disease. The invasive treatment was fluid injections at home with a needle in his neck for 10 minutes and to stop feeding the little carnivore meat (he wasn’t producing enzymes). The prognosis was that even with the vet’s plan, he would only live for two months.
Nope! That was not good enough! I skipped over heartbreak and went straight to my theory of there’s gotta be another way that no one is talking about.
I fired the vet, bought a natural pet cures book, ordered enzymes for cats I could sprinkle on his food and steamed him all the ground turkey he could eat. The vomiting stopped immediately, he gained weight and the sparkle came back to his eyes!
During my research, I learned the part of the spine that protects the blood supply to the liver and kidneys is the middle. I speculated that everything a cat does moves this part of the back and it simply gets overworked. That’s why I kept reading that by age 7 or 8 most if not all cats have the beginnings of kidney disease. Made sense given the blood flow of oxygen and nutrients was compromised by vertebra slipping out of place.
My chiropractor was certified to adjust animals so to solve the problem at its source instead of blindly signing a death warrant for my best friend, she adjusted Ziplet every 3 weeks for the next five years with a little clicker (activator tool). The middle of his back and his atlas (dish the head sits on) would get out of alignment and I could tell by his eyes when it was adjustment time. He would purr every time he saw her and loved his adjustments. For five more years, he lived like the energetic, funny, vocal, full-sized, love-ball kitten he’d always been!
One day he was purring, but his eyes didn’t look clear and I had a gut feeling I’d only had once before. I told him if he needed me to “help him out” that day, to stop purring so I’d know. He stopped immediately. We both knew it was time.
My heart was broken but I was happy to honor my promise made 20 years before.
He needed a new body because this one was worn out. The next morning, he wandered his favorite garden, laid by the pond and ate everything he wanted that wasn’t good for “kidney kitties” like tuna. The vet came by and put him to rest that afternoon.
For 20 years, every time I’d walked into my home, I called is name and went to find him before I did anything else. And every time I left, I kissed the top of his head and told him I loved him. We’d been through everything together. Twenty years!
After burying him, my mom and I went out for a banana split and ended up just sitting there without talking.
Ziplet was loved by many and had birthday parties with 8 or 9 people for sleepovers. The kitty enzyme company would send him a big box of his favorite organic treats each year for the big day. But now… even knowing he was safe and healthy and happy… no words came. Just tremendous gratitude for the 20 years of love and adventure.
I had a huge lump in my throat as I typed my code to open the security gate at home that day. I wondered how I could possibly walk through my front door and not see him there. But I’d stayed out as long as possible and it was time to face my new reality. I couldn’t breathe. I felt myself holding my breath hoping it was all a bad dream.
That moment at the gate, and the, next two times I at the same exact place at the gate, the chorus to the Anna Nalick’s song Breathe (2 AM) came on the car radio, “And breathe, just breathe, whoa breathe, just breathe.” It was magic. It was Ziplet. All I had to do was breathe. He and I had breathed through tough times before and although he wasn’t there physically… he was there.
The most valuable lesson I learned from Ziplet is that there’s gotta be another way that no one is talking about. His newspaper story of him beating the odds was instrumental in saving other cats’ lives. And he also got his kitty enzymes into two health food stores in his city. So although no one else seemed to be talking about this empowering treatment for feline chronic kidney disease, we were! He even had his own email address where people would write seeking support. Ziplet made a positive difference and that continues today.
There’s gotta be another way that no one is talking about fuels my life and empowers my business. Rather than buying into the rat race and stress or struggling with physical or mental illness, I’ve found ways for myself and my clients to heal that are empowering and freeing rather than invasive and restrictive.
Keeping an open mind of curiosity and looking for another way to get something, do something, or be something is a fun, empowering life game.
As for Ziplet, well… the memory of his purr still ignites my heart.
Sometimes your soulmate is furry.