He is in a better place now; he is out of pain… I never knew losing a pet would be this hard. He loved me unconditionally from that moment a scant eight years ago when I spotted “Zeke” in the paper and sat with what became ‘B’ on the basement floor. I sat with him for hours that first night, falling utterly in love and fearing even then how difficult it would be to part with him someday.
That someday came far earlier than we’d expected. Unfortunately his time has come.
I learned so much through his dying process–flickers of Auntie, Happy, Mama, Janis, Grandma and Uncle Bill certainly flashed through my mind. But this death made me really understand more about the natural cycle of life, what quality of life is, what artificially extending a life can mean, what it is to die with dignity, how an animal can be a “someone,” how emotions are displayed across species, and how putting a cat down can be a peaceful thing.
It’s still raw right now, it was difficult to see how rapidly he declined, but I’m so grateful J and I had this special time with him, since finding out about his chronic renal condition a mere three weeks ago. I’m especially glad that I had this past weekend to devote to my kitty. Before the terrifying last few hours when he really wasn’t himself anymore, he was able to spend a quiet, restful, cuddle-filled weekend with T and J and me–purring a little, sitting on my lap for the last times, rubbing noses with T, even kneading again a bit at the very end. In return he received endless love and scratches and wind on his face, bird calls, sunshine, concern and grooming from T, and the smell of a final salmon dinner.
It was impossibly hard to say goodbye. He really did transform my life. I didn’t understand my vet friend Stacy years ago, when she told me that a pet could change someone’s life. But after just that first night on the floor with him, I got it completely. B provided love, comfort, humor, and companionship to me when I was very new and lonely here. He became our first pet soon after our marriage, in our first house of our own. He never, ever stopped loving us throughout his short life.
He was a trooper–living in two houses here, then a car trip to Wisconsin (his year “abroad”), then a trip back west, to the Garagemahal, to Bellingham, and finally back to the ‘snatch in our new house. He was an indoor cat for so long, but I’m so glad he got to explore the outdoors finally. This past year he loved his sojourns into the backyard to pee behind the garage, sneak in under the broccoli, and sun himself under the Adirondack chairs.
He was a finicky, persnickety little dude. He loved tuna and could figure out we were having it for lunch almost before we could! He loved his basket, his box, his ledge on the sofa, napping on his paws on “his” dining and office chairs, chasing his binky (especially when it was filled with kitty weed), chattering at birds from the kitchen window (“Up, up, up!”), curling up on my lap in front of the fire…
He loved his ginger chews, grass, treats and bonito flakes. He used to be sociable as a kitten, like when he helped the fireplace installer with his measuring tape and when he was the life of our open house party. And he was a good role model for T, who still pauses before he eats, looking around for his big brother to lead him on.
We wondered if something was up when his patterns changed a while back, urinating innapropriately (which we won’t miss at all), acting antisocial and getting pretty sleepy. But thankfully he bounced back and showed his renewed affection–purring wildly and kneading hard core on my tummy and firmly planting himself between my legs at night in his rightful resting spot, all 17 pounds plopped there like a paperweight, refusing to budge when my limbs were asleep or I had to get up.
So rest in peace, little guy. We love you immensely still. You had a good, adventurous life and were wiser than any cat I’ve ever seen. We dragged you through a lot and you put up with quite a bit in your too-short life. In every way right up to the end you were determined to do things your way.
I held you yesterday and looked up at Saddle Rock. The idea had just come to me that since I always wished you were a hiker cat and since you often looked up there from your spot on the couch in the living room, we might scatter your ashes there to reflect in the sun, brilliant light and colors up there–so that we and T can be reminded of you every day. When this thought came to me with you in my arms I looked up and saw a large bird–a hawk or eagle–circling in the sky over Saddle Rock, flying graceful and free. Now every time I look up there I will think of you, and every time I see a bird soaring high above, I will hear your chatter and melt a little inside, thinking about how you warmed our souls.
Thank you for being the best cat we could have ever asked for, B. Your memory will live on in the softness of T’s fur (which is lovely in its own right but is nothing like your rabbit-like fur I loved so much), the steady calm buzzing of his purr (so different than yours but soothing nonetheless), in the great many photos and memories we have of our not-long-enough-but-wonderful-all-the-same time with you in our lives. We miss you so much already and we always will, B. I have a thousand tiny daggers splintering away at my heart. But you are where you needed to be. We are comforted knowing that you are at last at peace.