Friday, July 14, 2006

As one friend comes home again... another departs.

Blazey was missing, and all over BlogLand, we waited, and hoped and prayed that he would come home again to Magazine Mansion.

Blaze is part of Magazine Man's family. Blaze is a handsome, loyal fellow, and came to live with MM and his family after being rescued from a horrible situation.

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As is the case for so many of us, we don't just have *pets*. We have fur-covered friends, shaggy companions, and four-legged family members. Just because they are animals doesn't change the place they occupy in our hearts.

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We were all thrilled to hear about the amazing return of Blazey (Actually, his full name is Blazey Bellow Hoska Boo Boo Ba Doo) to the loving bosom of his family. Magazine Man is an inspiration, and a hero to animal lovers everywhere. His exploits in the name of retrieving Blaze makes even the most devoted pet owner look like a slacker.

To say that he went the distance to bring home Blazey would be a huge understatement.

But even as Blazey was coming home again, to a warm welcome from family and friends, our oldest, number one boy cat Shadow Romeo (aka B the Boy) was fading away.

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B the Boy was, by the vet's best estimate, between three and five years old when we found him. Actually, he found us; there was a tornado bearing down on our little corner of The Greater Metro, and in the middle of this terrible, horrible, storm we heard a scratching and howling outside the front door.

The Wrench opened the door, and B shot in like he had been fired out of a cannon. He bonded instantly with The Wrench; he was Daddy's guy. For the next 18 years.

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By last Friday, July 7th, B the Boy was deteriorating fast, and I knew that it was time to make that last journey. I called the vet's office, and they said to bring him on in. The Wrench was at work, and out in the hangar on a plane - there was no way to reach him.

Our regular vet was not there, but her associate was, and she quickly saw that there was no amount of extraordinary measures that would save our old B the Boy. He had internal bleeding, and his kidneys were failing. His back legs were not working right, and he couldn't sit anymore; he could only stand, or lay awkwardly on one side. Even when he tried to stand, he "tripoded"; he would be all hunched up, with his front legs apart, and his back legs together. His fur was starting to come out in handfuls, and his eyes were beginning to be cloudy. There was blood in his urine, and in his vomit.

It was time.

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B the Boy would never take "No" for an answer - he was always a very *determined* cat. That night that he found us, we took him in, intending to try and find his owners. Within the next day or so, we discovered that his former owner had been a little boy who had died of cancer. B the Boy had been his pet; he had lain faithfully at the boys side day and night. When the little boy died, his parents could not bear to live in their house on the quiet street behind our house; they packed everything up, and they moved away. Apparently, they took everything *but* B the Boy.

When B the Boy arrived at our house, he was in pretty bad shape. Soaking wet, skinny as a rail, and somewhere along the way he had been shot at least twice by a pellet gun; you could feel the pellets under his skin. His paws were raw and ragged, and he was insatiably hungry and thirsty. He probably had been on his own for a month or so. He was exhausted; for the first week all he did was sleep and eat.

Once recovered from his abandonment, he was quite healthy, and very happy to assert his position as number one, senior head cat by greeting all who came to our home. All who entered were appraised of the rules of the house by him in a staccato burst of sing-song noise. If there was big news to be told (for example, he shouted down a Blue Jay outside the window) then he told that next, running alongside you as you moved through the house. He was the only cat I have ever known who came when called with a whistle. And if you sang to him, he would put his face right next to yours, and purr as loudly as he could. He insisted on sleeping between The Wrench and I at night from the very start; he would curl up tightly between us once we were both settled. As he got older, he would spend most days basking in the sunbeams, and playing a little with the other cats. As time passed, his ability to jump as high as he used to diminished due to arthritis, but overall he was still a vibrant, active cat. Although he had been "fixed" before we adopted him, he still tried to "date" the girl kitties... even up until the day before he died. As I indicated before, he was nothing, if not determined.

The only lingering effects of his abandonment seemed to be his loathing of suitcases and empty boxes. Leave an open suitcase on the bed, and he would crawl in, and refuse to move. Place an empty box on the floor, and he would jump in, and couldn't be budged.

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In the last year, his kidneys began to fail, and we tried everything that the vet recommended, but his kidney disease continued to advance. Finally, about two months ago, we quit forcing him to eat the prescription food that the vet recommended, and just let him eat good old Fancy Feast cat food, his favorite. Even though he ate many, many times a day, and drank huge amounts of water, by the end he was down to less than half his normal body weight.

The Wrench knew that his time was running out... and before he left for work, I told him that I was really worried about B the Boy.

An hour after The Wrench left for work, we were on our way to the vet. B the Boy was going downhill really fast, and after a quick telephone consult, the vet said to come on in.

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I took one of The Wrench's old t-shirts with us. I wrapped B the Boy in it, and told him that it was like a hug from his daddy. Twinks and I kissed him and hugged him, and sent kisses and hugs with him for everyone else already there.

After while, Twinks couldn't bear to be in the room, and she slipped out. The girls in the office made sure she was OK. I stayed with B the Boy till the end, because I wanted to make sure that he knew he wasn't alone.

For 18 years, he was our "head cat". It was the least I could do.

Then I stayed a little while longer, because I didn't want to let him go. I sang to him, and I whistled for him one last time, but he couldn't come running; he was gone. The vet and the entire staff were so wonderful, and when I was finally ready to go, they came and tenderly picked him up from my arms.

Farewell, our old boy. We miss you so much. You were quite the character, and there will never be another like you.

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Yes, it happened on my birthday. Bad things happen on "good" days, and good things can happen on "bad" days. It's all a part of life.

Having said that, it didn't make telling The Wrench any easier.

He was in such a good mood when he walked through the door that night.

We cried together, and I reassured him that it was swift, and that I wrapped B the Boy in his old shirt. I told him what the vet said, and that there was nothing left for us to try. We cried some more; and then that night, when there was an empty spot on the bed, we cried again.

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Yesterday, in the mail, there was an envelope from the vet's office. They sent a card, signed by everyone. They each included a favorite memory, or a positive comment about B the Boy. We all cried again.

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The house is much quieter now.

Our cat food bill has dropped by more than half.

None of the other cats have taken his place. There is no one to curl up between The Wrench and I; no one stands on the kitchen windowsill to stave off the evil Blue Jays in the back yard. No one greets us when we come home, with a "report" on all that happened while we were out; no one comes when we whistle.

But I'm willing to bet that on the other side, there was a happy little boy who greeted his old friend with open arms again.

8 comments:

Stu said...

I am so sorry for your loss. How aching that must be. No matter how old, no matter how suck, it totally sucks that he died.

I'm a converted cat person. I guess I was always a cat person, but I never had a cat until after I left college. And even then, I was just ok about cats.

But then I fell in love with my wife, and she had several cats. I was reluctant at first, but quickly shed (sorry) my intimacy issues and let them into my heart. It was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

We've lost a few cats, including Anna, who slept with me back in Manhattan Beach. And each time we lose a cat, I dig the hole. It really helps me feel better, to pay that final respect.

Our current cat is Billie, and she is my cat, even though Leslie feeds her. She's an outdoor kittie (we have a wonderfully cat-friendly neighborhood, with lots of outdoor cats) and when she comes home after a hard day, she finds me and we hang out. I love her very much.

Sorry for such a long comment, but reading your post about B, it just touched a nerve. Thanks for writing so well, and for sharing. Give The Wrench my deepest condolences.

Kelly said...

*sniff*, *drip*, *wipe*

(getting me to cry about a cat is pretty hard to do [even though I'm a cat fan])

thestraightpoop said...

Oh boy, the first time I visit your blog and I am crying and snotting all over the place.

Poor sweet kitty. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story...an electronic hug to you.

Ericka said...

*sniffle* i'm sorry for your family's loss. it's always so hard to say goodbye.

Suldog said...

I've always been a cat person. I've had to do that tough duty a few times and it always sucks. I know in my heart that it's the right thing, and I'm saving a soul much misery, but still...

God bless you, and The Wrench, and Twinks, and B.

Tenn said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Thim'. It's terrible to lose a pet; while I've never had a cat, I've had one dog die and the other be kidnapped.

Good that he isn't in pain anymore, and here's hoping that those painful memories are muted by time, and you can look at the empty space in your bed with nothing but fondness in the future.

alpharat said...

I'm also really sorry to hear about this as well. It's sad to lose someone who's been part of your life for so long, whether or not they're furry.

It's a tough call to make, but you did the right thing, and you let him know he was loved the whole time.

Chuck said...

Hey T, very sorry for his loss. But it sounds like B had a rich full life and was lucky to have found you to take him in when he did. And I bet you're right about there being someone to greet him on the other side.