Arnold, my seven year old, lovable, cuddly, mellow, and wonderful cat has gone downhill the past year. I’ve taken him to the vet for diarrhea and losing weight…he was tested for parasites and feline leukemia, both of which were negative. So, the vet put him on a new (and extremely expensive) hypoallergenic food, he was given fluids, and I took him home the next day, full of happy anticipation that perhaps things would be better for him now.
I know that a cat is just a cat. They don’t have souls like people, and of course I don’t put an animal on a pedestal. Still…he loves children, and let my granddaughter put a baby bonnet and blanket on him, his head on a pillow, and read him stories, and he didn’t try in the slightest to get away but just laid there, happily purring. My boys used to wrestle with him, which didn’t upset him at all, he was mellow and happy, always glad to get attention. When I pick him up he isn’t tense, like some cats, he melts into me, purring loudly and snuggling. The kids are convinced he’s part Rag Doll, which wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve never had a cat who liked people so much, a cat who followed me from room to room, a cat who would always be at the door, happy to see me. A cat who, when the grandkids came over, didn’t run and hide, but sat amongst them and their toys, making them feel special and happy. He never bit anyone, never scratched, he was just…Arnold. A very special, sweet boy.
So now, this is hard. The past couple of months I noticed I had to feed him less and less. I tried to tell myself it was because the new food was more nutritious, and maybe he didn’t need to eat as much of it. His occasional vomiting I attributed to hairballs. The diarrhea I told myself was due to his sensitive system.
Until today. It hit me that he was strangely absent when I came back after tonsillectomy surgery. He was sleeping as much as I was, and once I remember thinking that he didn’t look like he was even breathing…had to get down close to make sure. Today I was petting him, as he laid in the living room, and his coat is rough and unkept, eyes mattery, and as I ran my hand over him diarrhea came out and went onto the carpet. He, my old friend, was too sick to care, didn’t make an effort to get up, or clean himself, just laid there, thankful for my hand on him. So I carried him downstairs, cleaned him (and the carpet later), brought his soft bed downstairs, freshened his water, etc. He did sit and look at his cat box, but he was took weak to get in. It’s a covered one, so I took the cover off, and he looked positively grateful, getting carefully in and using it.
So, I hoped that things were okay, that he just needed to lie by his box for a while, and rest, but he’s had diarrhea in his cat bed twice since then. My poor baby. He was always so proud, and took immaculate care of his coat…now he doesn’t even try to clean himself, so I wet paper towels and clean him as best I can, also wipe his eyes gently with a clean wet one. He seems so thankful for the help, is lying and purring. I feel like a traitor though, climbing up the stairs and shutting the door behind me. I don’t want diarrhea all over the house, and he needs to be close by his water and cat box. I feel horrible though, leaving my friend, and the only thing that helps is that he’s probably sleeping most of the time.
So, tomorrow I’m hoping the grandkids can come by, and see him. Of course not to play, but to say good-bye. I’ve been reading on the internet how important closure is for them, how they need to have some last memories of him. Then I will call the vet, and explain the situation. The fact is, I can’t afford expensive treatment, no matter what it is (I’m guessing gastric lymphoma, as he has all the symptoms). I know there’s chemotherapy that can be done, biopsies, meds. It all prolongs the inevitable though…so if it’s hopeless I just want him put to sleep. I want to hold him in my arms and thank him for the love he showed us all. For being such a good boy. For loving us. I will think back to so many times that I should have had more patience, more time for him, more pets, more snuggles. I know he won’t be thinking that though…he’ll just be thankful to be in my lap, getting pets, as I see him to end of his journey.
As I write this tears spill down my cheeks, and I can’t imagine life without him. Maybe the vet will tell me a miracle, I can only hope. I don’t expect that though, feel a knot in my stomach at what I’m guessing I’ll be told.
I guess all of us who own pets can relate…they’re extensions of us, give us unconditional love, loyalty, and their hearts. I will let you know how the rest of this journey goes.