grieving the loss of a cat

This morning, I lost my Didymus the Cat.

Didymus was the only surviving kitten in a litter of five (I like to think he’s the one looking back, but he could be the one firmly attached at the front–he was a voracious eater).

It was a litter of outdoor kitties and his siblings didn’t make it. I won’t go into details but it was a case of cruelty involving minors so there was no justice in the end. Didymus was 5 weeks old when he appeared in our garden, hungry and scared, but alive.

We weren’t allowed to have pets in our apartment, but I begged and pleaded to keep him until my mom let me have my way. I said I would find him a home and I did–with me. He was a funny little cat from the start and enjoyed being carried so much he learned to lift his front legs into the air whenever he wanted to be picked up.

His markings became darker with age, until he was mostly gray and black with a white belly.

And he always had the most amazing blue eyes.

He was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma after I discovered a strange lump on his shoulder. He underwent surgery in February, but the bump was back within two months. The vet wanted to try again, but I refused. I knew it was a terminal illness and that it was progressing too fast to have any real hope of long-term recovery. I made the decision to watch and wait. His quality of life started to take a turn for the worse on Tuesday evening. It was getting harder for him to walk and lifting his head to eat was becoming difficult but he was still eating. Last night it was nearly impossible to get him to take more than a few licks of the moistened food and the only thing I could get him to take was a spoonful of yogurt. I knew that I was only prolonging his suffering so I asked my mom to take him in to the vet to see if there were any other options for palliative care, but there were none. I knew it was time to let go. I wasn’t there when it happened. I felt obliged to go to work for a meeting and because I needed to take care of business before going on vacation; I drove as fast as I could, but I couldn’t be there in the end.

I keep thinking he’s just around the corner every time I walk into the living room, plopped across one of his many blankets. It’s going to be hard to put his things away. There will never be another cat like him, though there will be others. The pain of losing a pet is real, but it would be more painful to not experience the love they bring.

I said goodbye to him this morning and he work me with a happy little mreow this morning. This is the last picture I have of him. I took it when he came to wake me at 6:30 am. I was surprised that he was able to make it to my room, he was that tired, but I was grateful to see his little face at my bedside one last time.

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in memoriam

I’ve had to make the tough decision to put my sweet Crookshanks to sleep. He’s been a survivor, having been diagnosed with FelV and having undergone surgery to remove a growth that was affecting his ear and throat about five years ago. At the time, the vet suggested we put him to sleep because he was a stray and we couldn’t keep him indoors, but we said he was frisky and lovable despite his ailment and we would take care of him as long as we could.

He stayed with us all this time, waiting for me by the door every day when I came home from school or work just so I would rub his head and give him cuddles. He lived on love, craving caresses more than food when it was feeding time.

He’s been wasting away since the summer, and it’s been heartbreaking to watch him lose his health, but his sweet temper is still there and today he still waited for me by the door when I arrived from work. I saw how badly he was and I realized there was no amount of love I could give him that would make him better, so I had to decide to end his pain. It’s terrible what is happening to him and I won’t go into detail because I choose to remember him as he was when he was big and strong and golden-pink, when the sound of him running towards me sounded like tiny hoof-beats, he was that strong.

This is my Crookshanks as I choose to remember him today and tomorrow.

a much loved kitty

 

Springtime surprises

We had some windy spring showers last week and my gran found a perfect little bird’s nest that fell from one of the trees. It is such a cleverly constructed little basket, the tiny twigs woven round and round.

basket weaving

Yesterday, we had another nest-related surprise… the neighborhood hen has been making an awful fuss lately, cackling at all hours and terrifying the cats, turns out she’s been laying eggs. She belongs to someone who lives down the street, but she’s made herself a nice little nest among the trees behind our apartment. We hope the troublesome neighbor kids don’t notice that they’re there… or that the brave rooster gives them a good pecking if they get too close.

Nestled

Crookshanks (below), Lola, and Kittygirl (the outdoor cat colony) are terribly frightened by the chickens because the feathered beasties scare them away and steal their kibble.

Crookshanks is confused

a tough decision

After many failed attempts, we finally managed to get Crookshanks (one of our outdoor kitties) to go to the vet. A few months ago he developed this weird growth in his ear and, though it only looked like an infection at first, it turned into a nasty bloody mass rather quickly. Since he’s an outdoor cat, getting him into a carrier was a trial, and we ended up having to ask the vet for a sedative to calm him down before we could take him in for a visit.

Crookshanks

The test results came back and the vet says he has FIV (feline aids) in addition to the tumor in his ear. The lab tests for cancer haven’t returned yet, but they wanted me to decide whether they should put him to sleep because of the FIV, or proceed with the ear surgery and hope for the best. It was a tough decision to make under pressure, but I decided to let them go through with the surgery. I’ve read that cats can live for years with FIV and do just fine; and he’s such a young cat, I’m hopeful and think that he’ll recover once the tumor has been removed and he can eat without pain. He’s so sweet-tempered and silly, I didn’t think it right to euthanize him if he’s still strong and healthy. Aside from the ear, he’s fine. It’s just that the growth was so large that he could barely eat. With that gone, he should improve.

Update

Surgery went well, so he’s home now, but still sedated and very weak. I hate seeing him like that, unable to stand and move around — it reminds me of when Didymus was ill a few years ago, before we knew that he has diabetes and he was wasting away fast. The vet said the growth went deep into his ear, so they had to go inside to get it out. He’ll be in pain for a few days and we have to watch to make sure that he doesn’t remove his stitches if he scratches himself.