So long before I met Steve, as a single lady over 20, I knew it was important that I have a cat. One or two but never three because that would put me into crazy cat lady territory. I have had three cats over the last 20 years (but never more than 2 at a time) and as of this weekend, I have none.
I had Larry, by far, for the longest amount of time – nearly 17 years. He was a tiny sick kitten when I got him. I had just moved out of a crappy situation and was adjusting to life alone and didn’t want to leave the other cat I had home alone and one day, outside at my parent’s house, there was this little orange kitten who just wanted to cuddle. I like to think he picked me. So on a whim, I brought him home with his ear mites and tummy problems and got him on the straight and narrow. He was always a cuddler and would sit with me for hours watching TV while I held him kind of like a baby. Again- I would like to remind you- I am not a crazy cat lady.
Thinking back, I’ve done lots of living in the last 17 years. Paid $500 to have a hair tie surgically removed from said cat’s intestine, I fell in love at least 3 times (or so I, thought) and out of it just as many times. I changed jobs, moved, put the first cat to sleep, got a new kitten, put her to sleep, traveled, got mono twice and he was always there, trying to cuddle, steal my emory boards or pens and eat out of my bowl or off my spoon or drink out of glass. He was good with change and it never seemed to phase him. Even when I brought home a dog – he just ignored her and slept on the other side of the bed.
So, when I came home from my trip this summer, I noticed he had mats in his fur on his far back. He was always a really clean, well groomed cat and so this was alarming. I started combing him to pick up the slack in the grooming. And then he was so thirsty. All the time. And then the confused meowing started and then progressed to screaming. Some days for hours without reason, some times at night. I started giving him wet food with extra water mixed in to try to keep his fluid level up and then he stopped eating his dry food. He stopped drinking water and would only drink broth. And then I knew it was it time to let him go.
Luckily, I know people and so my very good friend, who also happens to be a very good DVM, came over and checked him out one last time. His problems included a serious heart murmur, thyroid troubles, kidney troubles and about 90% blindness. With this information, I was ready to let him go with a clear conscience – because I mean, how do you not second guess yourself at a time like this?
My family also has some vet connections and was able to help take care of putting Larry to sleep and all that. All I had to do was get him home. And in my head, I pictured this all being very dignified and peaceful. But my quiet steady cat could not go quietly into the night.
I’m getting ready to leave and I go to load him into the carrier, which I would like to mention, he had been sniffing and had climbed like halfway in earlier that morning, and he just would not do it. He spread all four paws out as far as he could get them and fought me pretty hard, but eventually, I get him in and get the carrier “secured” and sobbing, I carry him out to the car and put him in the back and pull out to leave.
I had two stops to make on the way and he screamed non-stop the whole time the car was moving. I don’t blame him – he always had balance issues, so I’m sure he had inner ear problems and the motion probably bothered him. So after I buy helium balloons and load them into the car, I get back on the freeway and away we go. And then I notice he sounds different. I look in the rear view mirror and there he is – standing on top of the cat carrier – looking out the window- watching the world go by at 60 miles an hour. So then he starts moving around the inside of the car – into the backseat with helium balloons and full bags of potato chips to walk on. Now I’m panicked. I have a crazy, almost blind cat with back claws in a car going 60 miles an hour with like an entire seat full of things he could potentially damage. Luckily, I was able to grab him and I was thinking maybe I can just let him roam around the car until I get to my parents and it will be fine. But then he tried to cuddle against my chest and neck and seemed to be headed towards the pedal area. This is when I realize I’m going to have to take some action. I get off the Beltline at Todd drive and am looking for a parking lot to deal with this and if you’re from here – you know that the first option is an adult “bookstore”. I bypass that option and find a different store and try to secure him in a box as obviously the carrier is not super secure and he keeps popping his head out the middle of the box and the packing tape is no longer sticky. Having no other options, I hesitantly open the way back and am able to get him back in the carrier but this time, I but the door tight against the side wall and use some of the really important stuff I refuse to take out of my car to keep it in place. And with that, we are finally back on the road and the screaming re-commences for the next hour.
So finally, I get to my parent’s house where my dad is waiting for me to unload my cargo. I hug him on my way into the house to check in with my mom and we go on with the day.
Hours later I make a much quieter ride home alone.
Maybe I’ll get a fish next time.