April 1st, 2016 seemed to be an evening like any other. My husband and I were sitting on the sofa, watching something on TV and our cat, Lena, was lying on my husband’s lap. At some time, she decided it was time to go to bed. When she jumped to the floor and walked to the stairs, we noticed that she was hobbling. We didn’t think too much of it first, but it didn’t get better over the weekend and so we made an appointment to see the vet. The devastating diagnosis was that cancer had eaten most of the bone in her leg. We took her to the animal hospital on the next day. We were told that bone cancer most of the time hasn’t spread in cats when it is diagnosed and that we could amputate her leg. We were worried, because Lena was almost fifteen years old, but the doctors said that she wouldn’t have any problems soon after the surgery. We waited for the results of the biopsy and bloodwork. The cancer was malignant, but it hadn’t spread and her bloodwork showed that she was healthy enough for the surgery, which happened on Friday, April 15th. We got Lena back on Sunday, minus one leg and were told to come back or call our vet if she didn’t eat or drink in the first 24 hours. Despite all our efforts, she didn’t want to eat or drink, so our vet came on Monday and gave her cortisone, injected water under the skin and set some acupuncture needles. A little bit later, Lena began to eat again and we were so happy. She was also trying to walk and already getting better at it. On Tuesday, I had her lying next to me on the sofa and suddenly she jumped down on the floor. I was frightened, but she didn’t fall, walked a few steps to a sunny spot on the carpet and lay down to sleep. I let her lie there, but when I left the room for just a few minutes and came back, she wasn’t there anymore. I searched for her everywhere and found her in the garden, lying in the grass. She had crossed the living room, the dining room, gone outside through the cat flap, went to a step, up the step and then a few more meters in the grass. I was frightened, but also proud of what she had achieved. I brought her back inside and put her into the enclosure that hubby had built for her and she began to cry. When I brought her to lie on the sofa next to me, she calmed down again. Two hours later, I realized that she was completely apathetic. I called hubby at work and asked him come home immediately. I also called our vet and the hospital, but they just said to bring her on the next day if it didn’t get better. Every now and then, she cried – most of the time when somebody stood up and went away. In the night, she began to cry more often. In the morning, she was so cold. We put her into a heating blanket and drove to the hospital. They suspected that she had an aorta thrombosis, something similar to a stroke, and kept her for more bloodwork. Back home, I read about aorta thromboses, neither hubby nor I had ever heard of it. I was devastated when I realized that Lena’s symptoms matched exactly and that it would mean she didn’t have a chance. A little later the hospital called with more bad news. Her blood had way too little oxygen, which had already damaged her liver and her kidneys. At half past eleven that morning, we had to let our baby go.
A little later, I ordered a skein of Ancient Fibre Arts The Meow Collection, and as soon as it arrived, I knew exactly what the shawl I wanted to make from it should look like. I wanted hearts, pawprints on and between the hearts, a cat’s eye pattern and a border with beads in the color of Lena’s eyes. Knitting the shawl has given me great comfort, and although I still miss my baby every day and still cry a lot, I can now snuggle my Tribute to Lena.

Pawprints on my Heart is a triangular shawl work from the top down. You’ll need to know how to (or be willing to learn) work a garter tab cast on, simple lace knitting, knitting on a border and – this is optional – adding beads. All techniques are explained and / or a tutorial is linked in the pattern.

If you’ve made it to here – thank you! Use the coupon code “Lena” (without the quotes) to receive 30 % off the single patterns from my Ravelry store (except Daddy’s Prayer Shawl)! The code is valid until September 4th 2016, end of day (Switzerland time).