Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goodbye, old friend

I had to say goodbye to a dear old friend this week. I'm surprised I didn't write more about him before on my blog.

He was my 18 year old cat. This poor guy has been through thick and thin with me. I can't tell you the number of times he sat with me while I cried. He'd gently lick my hands, cuddle up to me or give me the most understanding looks (I know, sounds bizarre, but animals can totally tell when you're upset).

I adopted my cat when he was a kitten from the pound. He was a bit of a runt but I knew right away he was "the one". One of the main reasons I adopted him was because I'd become an insomniac after my father passed away and then my mother started to show signs of Alzheimers. I'd sit up at night, unable and not wanting to sleep. My father passed away overnight and I found him the next morning in the living room. Some people mentioned my mom might pass away soon after because of how much she missed my dad. I really didn't want to have another dead parent on my watch so the insomnia began. I'd sleep a little here and there but jump awake at the slightest sound. Occasionally, my mother would have a bad night where she would try to run away to "go home" or come bursting into my room to demand her stuff back that she believed I'd stolen. Yep, nights were long and lonely. And that's where my little friend fit in perfectly.

Cats are naturally nocturnal so my new little buddy would hang out with me during these difficult times and keep me company. I also had a horrible fear of my mom needing an ambulance one day and I was terrified to wait for an ambulance by myself so my buddy would be there for me then too. I also purchased a cordless phone for my bedside that year (a bit deal back then) so I could have a portable phone if and when the day came. I was ready!

My little buddy also kept my mom company during the day when I went to school and work. She loved him to bits and took care of him like a child. I'd often come home to find the two of them cuddled up on the lazy boy watching a soap opera. Animals are so good for people's health and really help put ill/anxious people at ease.

Of course, there were times where I'd come home and couldn't find the cat because my mom had let him outside for fresh air and then forgotten about him due to her Alzheimers. You know how it goes...the phone rang so she went inside to answer it and then forgot the cat outside. She used to do this with many things, including putting a pot or kettle to boil on the stove and then going out grocery shopping. I can't tell you how angry I used to get at my mom for this. The cat was an indoor cat and we live in a big city so it was quite dangerous to just leave him outside. Thankfully, I'd always find him in the backyard, safe and sound.

Sadly, this week, I had to let my buddy go. He was really showing his age and had begun to drink tons of water, pee a ton and track pee-soaked litter all over the house (a big concern for me with the baby). It turns out he had severe diabetes which would take thousands of dollars to get under control as he'd have to be hospitalized for a few weeks. The vet advised that even then, I had to remember he was 18 years old. So, I let him go.

It was terribly sad and I sat with him while they put him to sleep. Eighteen years of memories flooded my mind, flashing through like a slide show. Letting this cat go was a huge deal for me as it was like I was letting go of an era and moving on with my life. I know I might sound crazy (and one person actually thought I was nuts years ago because I referred to the cat as "he" and not "it"). But really, this cat had been there through it all. From insomnia to insanity, from horrible breakups to deaths, he was my friend and I will miss him. Rest in peace FB.