I’ve been hitting backspace every time I start to write. I don’t know how to start it, but I want to document it. I want to get it down so I don’t forget.
20 days ago, November 4th, I came home from work to find no kitty waiting for me at the door. This cat that ran to the door when he heard me pull up outside, and demanded to give me welcome hugs every time I returned home. I called him. He didn’t come.
I knew immediately something was wrong. I checked my room to see if he was just sleeping on the bed, I checked his litter box area to see if he was just busy, I checked the bathtub to see if he was in there catching drops from the faucet. I checked all these places even though I knew in my soul he wasn’t there, because I did not want to check his go-to when sick hiding spot behind the never-used chair in the corner of my living room.
I tried to get him to come out. I reached behind the chair to pet him and he croaked at me. I moved out the chair and tried to pick him up. He meowed from pain. I put him down and he stood still. It was like he couldn’t move and his tail was vibrating. I ran around my apartment trying to figure out what he ate. He ate everything. Little fucker. I couldn’t find any stray bits of plastic or open containers. The last time he wasn’t feeling good was because I shared too many goldfish crackers with him so I just thought he had an upset stomach. I looked for vomit everywhere but only found it when I stepped back into it. It looked different than I’d ever seen come from him. I sat back down next to him, just petting him. He purred for me. I thought, You’ll be okay, and I’d just let him be and he’d come out from hiding when he was feeling better because he always did.
He always did.
I sat on the couch trying to quell my own anxieties, talking to him. I arranged everything because I was going to pick him and lay on the couch cuddling him. He managed to make his way back behind the chair and I looked over at him, telling him I love him, begging him to come back out.
I’ll never forget the look on his face. The eye contact. It was like he was trying to tell me something. I think about that a lot. If I could have one minute of magic in the world I would use it to give him a voice at that moment, to just know what he was thinking.
I kept talking to him, petting him. I started to make dinner. He seemed to wake up a little more. Or at least he started moving some. He slowly made his way to the spot I’d found his vomit in and started gagging. I watched as nothing came up. Dry heaving. This cat had never dry heaved in his life and when I looked I saw foam. This is what freaked me out. This is when I started calling vets. I finished cooking. I told the lady on the phone I wasn’t sure if I’d be bringing him. But he laid in the corner of the dining room lazily, occasionally looking up at me, alert but lethargic. It just wasn’t right.
I said fuck it, fuck overdrafting my bank account, this cat is my family, my best friend. Seeing him in pain was killing me. Not being able to help. I threw my clothes back on. When I turned on the light in my bedroom I found vomit all over the bed that I’d missed before. He must’ve been sleeping and gotten sick.
20 days ago I put him in his crate and took him to get better. 20 days ago I came home without him. His kidneys were shutting down. He couldn’t pee. The crystals had been so backed up in his body that on the xray you could see a thick white line all the way out of him, like someone had drawn it with a marker. It had been happening for awhile. I had no idea. His box had pee spots in it the whole time. He never gave me any indications. I thought his peeing on the floor was just his way of getting even with me for going back to work and not being home. “He will pass away, probably tonight,” the vet said. He couldn’t even clear him out it was so bad. His organs were overlapping each other and he couldn’t have gotten through without nicking something that might cause him to bleed out. The only option that might have worked would’ve been a surgery that rerouted his urethra, but it probably would have happened again. “In two months or two years.” But $1700 would’ve kept him alive long enough for me to love him some more.
I called people. I texted. I tried to post on Facebook begging but I got no signal in that stupid room.
Money is funny.
I just kept petting his head, kissing him, telling him I loved him. I scratched his chin and he purred. He wasn’t fighting at that point. It was almost like he was content. His eyes were heavy like he was napping. And I knew. I just knew. He was in too much pain.
I stayed with him the whole time. I petted his head as he went down. Everything you hear from vet techs is that your animals do look for you when they are being put to sleep. I didn’t want him to be alone with strangers. He needed me. I was his just as much as he was mine. Our bond was insane. I know people say that but if you’d ever seen us together you’d understand — my landlord’s girlfriend only met him one time and said to me “He loved you so much. I’ve never seen a cat love like that.” We’d been threw everything together. We were best friends. We were family. He was the only family I had left. The first and only being in this world that loved me as much as I loved him, and showed me what unconditional genuine love is supposed to be. The only thing that kept me from going under when I lost my job, or kept me from giving up when the last of my family died knowing that he needed me to survive because I was his world and hope. He was everything to me. I can only hope that I gave him back everything he gave me.
I know death well. But this hurt differently.
I had him cremated and his ashes are with the rest of my “collection” (my mother, my grandmother) on a shelf. I saved his collar and his favorite mouse. They sent me his paw print. I framed it.
From eight weeks to eight years.
You saved my life so many times. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save yours.