I have been fortunate to have known many lovely cats in my life. If I proceed slowly backwards, with each name I recall, I can glimpse a bit of the life I was leading when I had each one, and smile remembering what knowing them brought to me.
Blackitty (Mr. Blaxter Blackington) & Precious (The Yack Star)…Dear, dear Holis and his friend, Miss Mew…Rocky Lou…Yeller, Jasper. Tar Baby. Spark Good Buddy. Sissy Kitty. Tuffy. Big Kitty. Boomer…and so many others.
A few of them have been very special. They had the quiet ability to soothe when the need was there. To calm. To provide warmth and a bit of softness exactly when it was needed. Somehow they just understood that their responsibility was to share themselves unselfishly. I can think of almost nothing else that is as simple, and yet so valuable.
I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t bring myself to deal with it. I didn’t want to imagine how it might be to not see him each morning in the bathroom after I’d dragged myself out of bed. He’d push open the door, slink through it, rub against my legs, and then stretch his velvety body with one paw pushed against the wall.
He didn’t do that today.
I was worried I’d find him somewhere in the house and not okay, but was relieved to see him standing at the top of the stairs. Waiting.
When I called to him to follow me to breakfast, he scurried down, just as he always does, but he wasn’t interested in his food once it was on his plate. He did the same thing last night even though I tried many different flavors of food. He did lap up some of the juice from the albacore I opened for him, purring the entire time he ate. I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
He’s really been struggling to breathe, pulling in air with great effort. And he’s lost weight even though I’d increased his meals, keeping close watch that Her Fatliness wasn’t sneaking his food. No matter how hard I tried, he just didn’t get better.
Early last evening, I lifted him up to my bed so he could lay in the warm patch left by the setting sun. Although he did get some sleep, the difficulty he’s had breathing makes it uncomfortable for him to lay down. Instead, he sits upright with his eyes closed and tries to rest, his body moving heavily each time he takes a breath. I fell asleep with him at my feet and I knew that this morning I’d have to take him to the vet.
We’ve had him for 10 years and the only time he’s been anywhere, really, was to move to this house. That was five years ago. He was an abandoned animal and somewhat feral when he was rescued, and we adopted him. He spent the first four months with us hiding in a closet. Although he’s become a very loving cat to our family, he’s never been comfortable with others around, and hides until they leave. He’s never really enjoyed doing more than nap in the sun on the patio, or in the bushes next to our house. He’s too afraid.
The idea of having to get him into a cat carrier first thing this morning was not pleasant. But bless his heart, he went in with a few yowls, some cat nip, and exhausted resignation.
The vet was lovely. And kind. And gently honest.
He said there wasn’t really much that he could do because Blackitty’s lungs were surrounded by so much fluid, they could barely do their work. And because I’d been through this with another dear cat, I knew what he’d say. That he could drain the fluid, but that would only allow some time for the MoH and the RTR to say goodbye. I couldn’t do that to this cat.
And so the vet gave me a warm hug, and I spent some time alone with Blackitty to tell him I loved him, to thank him for his years of comfort, to marvel at the softness of his glossy black coat, rub his nose, scratch the sides of his face, and say good bye. Such a beautiful cat. Such a dear, dear friend.
His eyes were calm, he’d finally reclined on his side, and I knew it was okay to go.
And tomorrow morning, I will miss his daily visit to my bathroom, and his stretch against the wall. But I will be forever grateful that I was able to spend this past year at home with him never too far from my side.
My heart is completely broken.