Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts about the kitty. We are doing okay, all things considered.
He had been sick for nearly a year, with a long, slow decline for the past few months. For a while, it didn’t even seem like he was sick. He ate the special low protein food, he drank a ton of water, and he carried on. He eventually got more picky with his food and he rejected the low protein stuff, making his displeasure and nauseous stomach known by puking around the house. At that point, we gave him whatever we could get him to eat. In the past couple of months, he was getting skinnier and skinnier. He was already a thin kitty. He’s never been gluttonous or food motivated.
But he still seemed to have a lot of energy, he was as affectionate as ever, and he still wanted to be with us. So much. He was my kitty, and he followed me around like a little gray shadow. He waited outside the bathroom door when I showered. He demanded an invitation to sit in my lap when I was working. And of course, he loved to Occupy Dave (also here, here and here.). He rolled around on the floor when we came home, so, so, so happy to see us.
We returned from Thanksgiving away and it seemed like he dropped off a cliff. He barely ate. He didn’t even drink that much. He moved slowly when he moved at all, his eyes were glassy and his fur seemed to be getting greasy. He didn’t seem to want to roll around like he used to, like his back was hurting him. He would find a spot to sit and tuck himself into a little gray puff. He seemed to get smaller and smaller.
He still followed me around, and he still came jumped onto the bed to curl up on us at night, as he had always done. I’ve almost always kept my door open at night so he could jump up on the bed with us. When he was young, I found it a comfort. Feeling the twelve pound lump of fur on my hip meant that he was sleeping and being a good kitty, and not, say, hanging from the curtains or shredding the furniture like a little bastard. Towards the end, it was a comfort because it meant he wasn’t hiding, or he wasn’t puking his guts out from the nausea.
But he was a ghost. We took him to the vet to see if there was anything we could do to make him more comfortable, or to help him eat. At first, the vet said his weight seemed good. He felt “hefty” for such a skinny kitty. Dave and I were witnessing his slow decline, and perhaps it wasn’t as bad as we thought. The vet wanted to run a few tests to rule out infection. We sort of knew what we were dealing with, and didn’t want to cause any more discomfort than we needed. But we did run a blood test in the hopes that the vet might be right. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as we thought.
We were at a small, but well regarded vet in Astoria, and they had the equipment to analyze the blood on the premises. It took about 15 minutes. I waited in the bustling lobby, where there was a Santa Claus and a Christmas Tree, so people could get their pets’ photo with Santa. I sat with Dinger in my lap and wished I could block the chaos out. He’s always been a skittish kitty. There were curious big dogs wanting to sniff his crate, loud voices and terrifying smells.
The vet was grim when he came out to the lobby and sat with me. “It’s really bad,” he said. He handed me the blood results. They were off-the-chart bad. They were unbelievably bad. The vet dropped his sunny optimism and suggestions that there was anything else we could do. I bought some expensive medicine to help his appetite and took him home.
The funny thing was, as soon as I got him home from the vet, Dinger RAN to his food and snarfed it down. I sat on the floor with him and cried a little. He head butted me and demanded pets and scratches. I gave him as many treats and he wanted to eat. Later that night, he puked everything up.
Dave and I took him back to the vet two days later. We waited for a room in the lobby, and clung to each other. We cried quietly amidst Santa and the weekend crowd of people and pets.
In the end, I was just so relieved. So relieved. I didn’t want to wait another day. I didn’t want to remember him as skinny, sick and weak. He was brave for us and loved us to the end. They sedated him in my lap and I held him. I told him he was a good kitty as he went limp in my arms. He was such a good kitty. Such a good kitty.
Even after a year of preparation, it was a horrible thing to finally have to do. But I was just so relieved and so glad for him to be able to rest. I don’t second guess that there was anything else we could have done. I know he was happy, and he was just a light in our lives. A cute, furry, puke factory, stink bomb, and light in our lives.
The house feels empty. I don’t have that gray shadow waiting outside the bathroom after my shower. I don’t have the little lump sleeping on my hip at night. We don’t have our happy welcome committee when we get home. Dave doesn’t have the little gray wrist warmer draped over his arms as he tries to work.
I have said it numerous times: It is complete bullshit that our pets can’t live forever. It’s bullshit.
We will likely adopt a new stink bomb or two after the holidays. Because, as you know, I am a crazy cat lady. And our house feels so empty and lonely.
So thank you to everyone who has sent their well wishes. We are doing okay. Thank you.