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When Lavana Fox went into a dangerous diabetic low in her sleep, Maryn was sure to wake her.
As paramedics wheeled Lavana Fox out of her apartment, the diabetic woman looked over to her cat, Maryn, who had climbed onto the back of the couch so she could watch over her human companion.
“Just the look on her face, it devastated me because I knew she was just beside herself with concern for me,” Lavana explains.
Diagnosed with diabetes two years before adopting the cat, Lavana started having a lot of trouble with her blood sugar levels not long after Maryn came into her life. The 11-year-old Chartreux kitty seemed to instinctively know when her human needed help.
“She saved my life more than once. Over the years, I’ve gone into diabetic lows in my sleep, and people have actually died because they don’t wake up from them,” says Lavana, who lives alone. “She always knew when I was in trouble. She’d get up and walk all over my head and body and howl and talk and nudge my face to try to get me to come to — and she wouldn’t give up until I had called for help.”
Perhaps Maryn was repaying the love Lavana had always shown her. In 2007, the beautiful grey cat found herself in the custody of Calgary’s MEOW Foundation — and she wasn’t too pleased about it. At 11 years old, Maryn was already a senior. Her chances for adoption were not great, but when Lavana — a mature woman herself — saw Maryn’s adoption listing online, she knew she’d found her match.
“I called immediately, and when I phoned, the woman who answered yelled out to the office — she said ‘somebody wants to look at Maryn!’ And then I heard them cheering, yelling and screaming and clapping.”
Not long after that loud phone call, Lavana and Maryn were meeting each other in a quieter corner of the MEOW Foundation facility. It’s a moment Lavana will never forget.
“I picked her up, and she looked up at me with those eyes, and you could just tell she was miserable. I started to cry, and ‘I said, you’re coming home with me.’”
The next day, March 25, 2007, a Meow Foundation adoption worker delivered Maryn to Lavana’s 12-floor apartment.
“When I opened the door, I could see the little paws just reaching out of the cage as if to say ‘get me out of here!’ As soon as we got her out of the cage, she just plopped herself down on the couch and made herself at home.”
For the next nine years, Maryn and Lavana took care of each other. Between 2009 and 2013 Lavana would be hospitalized seven times due to complications of diabetes. Although it broke her heart to leave Maryn behind, she was comforted knowing that her apartment building superintendent and his spouse would take good care of her cat — they loved Maryn almost as much as she did. Concerned that she might not come home from the hospital one day, Lavana asked the couple to take permanent custody of Maryn in the event of her death, but she hated the thought of saying goodbye to the cat who’d saved her so many times.
“I kept saying to myself, I can’t leave the planet and leave her alone.”
With that in mind, Lavana’s health stabilized. Sadly, it turned out Maryn would be the one to leave the world first.
After nine years with Lavana, the cat finally started showing her age. Her kidneys were failing, and she needed to be carried to the litter box. Around the same time, Lavana found out her name had finally come to the top of a waiting list for senior housing. Unfortunately, cats would not be welcome in the new building. Knowing she could never abandon Maryn in her time of need, Lavana declined the opportunity to move and stayed home to take care of Maryn.
“The last couple months, she started getting very skinny. I knew it was coming, and she knew it was coming too,” Lavana recalls. “A week before she passed, I said to her ‘you can go.’ I think she understood that.”
Just when Lavana had made peace with the idea of compassionate euthanasia, Maryn slipped out of the world without any assistance on March 3, 2016. She was 19 years old.
“She passed on the couch, with me by her side,” says Lavana, who is now spiking her insulin levels before bed as she can no longer count on Maryn to wake her during a low.
The bond that saved her life so many time has been severed, but Lavana says it will never be forgotten.
“She was surrendered all those years ago, but their loss was my gain. She saved me. She was just such a comfort and a friend.”
Heather is a wife, new mom, and former TV journalist in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Google+.
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