In early April of 2000, my mom called me knowing that I had been toying around with the idea of getting a cat. I had been living in an apartment by myself and was pretty lonely most of the time. My step dad worked with a guy who had 4 kittens in his garage who had been abandoned by their mother. I agreed to go there with my mom to check them out.
It was a down pour outside and we were drenched just getting from the car. The kittens were in a cardboard box in the garage. There was a black one, a grey one, one with mostly white and a little black and one mostly white with a little grey. I wanted the grey one for sure, yep. That was my pick. But nope. He was already spoken for. So then I requested the black one but he was also wanted by the person taking the grey one. Looking at the two white ones…the white/grey one was the runt of the litter…just laying in the corner, very easy going. Yep, I’d take that one. The white/black one was intent of escaping that box. Every time he would crawl up and inch or two, he would tumble back down. What a trouble maker that one would be. Nope, the runt was for me. But my mom insisted that I could never just leave one out. I just HAD to take them both. But that meant two sets of shots, two neuter surgeries, double the food. But my mom offered to help with their needs and I agreed to take both of the little rug rats.
After a trip to the pet store for all of their necessities I was driving to their new home, my little apartment. I already knew I wanted to name one Bob. I had the name picked out long before meeting them. I thought Bob Cat was humorous (yes, I was even back then a huge nerd). But I didn’t know what I should call the other. I kept repeating out loud, “Bob and ….” and finally it just slipped out, “Bob and Brian”. And that it was. I still had no clue of their genders at this point.
We got home and all set up. Their liter box was a cookie sheet and they never once went outside of it. I was amazed at how they were clearly kitty geniuses. From then on, we were a happy family. I would come home during lunch to bottle feed them (which lasted several weeks as they were only a week or so old when I brought them home). They were my babies. Their safety and health were paramount to me. The three of us were attached forever. They were so small that they would each lay on one side of my chest and that is how we slept all night.
When it was time for them to go over night for their surgeries, I was a wreck. I wanted my babies home and safe ASAP!! I hated leaving them alone. And when it was time to move in with Charlie, they transitioned very nicely. Everyone seemed to think I was odd that I required such attention of their cat sitters when we went out of town. I never wanted to leave them more than a day without someone sleeping here. I cannot count how many times I heard, “They’re just cats.” Just cats. Fuck you. These are MY cats.
From sleeping with me all night every night to sitting on the ledge of the tub every time I took a shower (sometimes even jumping in) to greeting me at the door every time I walked through it…these cats were a part of me like I cannot explain. When I became pregnant, I would ponder the ability to love. I would ask how could it be possible to love anything more than I love my kitties.
They were funny, energetic, playful and so affectionate. They were a major focal point of my life. And always will be.
In 2008 we learned that both Bob and Brian had kidney failure. Both had lost some weight, but aside from that, only Brian was symptomatic. She went down him extremely fast. She went through many tests, an over night hospitalization and IV fluids. The say after returning from the hospital, she had to be put down. I was devastated. I laid with her for a long time and held her as the injection was given. I was deeply depressed for a long time. But I did have Bob to help me through it. He also became more needy and for the next 3 years he was attached to my hip. My husband even complained that he had to fight for my attention because Bob was always RIGHT there.
During those three years, he seemed so fine. He acted and looked so healthy that we even considered the possibility that he wasn’t really ever sick at all. That is until two weeks ago. I noticed he had lost a significant amount of weight. He was being very picky about what he would eat and that became less and less. We offered him different things to peak his interest, but eventually he wasn’t eating at all and was also peeing out side of the liter box. This was not Bob and Bob was very unhappy.
After Brian died I decided I would not put Bob through all that when his time came. But after two days of force feeding him with a syringe, I knew it was time to get a vet’s opinion. And even though I knew the end was near, I couldn’t fully admit that to myself.
Bob and I had an agreement. I agreed I would always love and protect him and he would agree to live to be at least 20. So, after all, we had a deal.
On Friday, Charlie stayed home from work and we took him to the vet at 9:30 in the morning. She checked him out and it was clear he was dehydrated and anemic. He had lost considerable weight and was very weak. But he was still purring and his face looked so young still…he was only 10. She said she would be able to give a much better opinion with a couple blood tests. I agreed as there was no way I would simply put him to sleep without at least doing some basic tests.
During the 20 minutes waiting for the results, I sat on the floor in the corner of the exam room just holding him tight to my chest as I cried. The vet returned and the tests were bad. Off the charts bad. There was the option of having him hospitalized for 3-4 days. She said that MIGHT buy him a couple weeks, but even then he would likely have to come back in during those weeks for treatment. It then became, as it usually does, a quality of life issue. And I certainly would never want him to be in any pain.
I do not, at this time, want to describe the procedure. It was quite traumatic, not at all like Brian’s, and I am still having a VERY hard time processing it. As she did what she needed to do, I laid my head on the table with my mouth right on to the top of his head. In between kisses I would tell him how much I loved him and what a good boy he was. And then he was gone.
I couldn’t catch my breath. The weeping turned into a full on bawl and I couldn’t stop. And it really hasn’t stopped since. You would think I would have been somewhat prepared, but clearly I wasn’t. I have been non-functioning. Thank God for Charlie and Cassidy. They have been so sweet and helpful. Charlie has taken wonderful care of me as I have been pretty much bed ridden and in constant tears. To be honest, and I know this is weird, but I didn’t react this harshly when my own father died.
I was a stay at home mom for 7 years of Bob’s life. And on top of that I was/am very much a home body. So I was basically with him 24/7. He was just as much a part of the family as anyone else. We all loved him so much. He loved us so much. He really was my baby boy whether or not he spoke human words or called me mom.
The void in my life is unbearable. It leaves me breathless and in such pain that I can only curl up in a ball. I do not know how to live in this home without him. He is supposed to be here. He is a part of this family. He is a part of me. I need him.
I have such feelings of guilt, doubt, hopelessness and worry. What if he didn’t want to go? Did I really have the right to end his life? What if the hospitalization would have been all he needed? What if I gave up too easily?
I see the cat door and I lose it. I feel his absence from my pillow and I lose it. I see a cat toy and I lose it. I realize that this isn’t how all people react to losing a pet. I realize that most people see pets as things – something to own. Those are not people I can relate to. So them thinking I am odd or strange are of no matter to me. The pets we love and whom love us are no less than the people we love. Their value is no less.
A few people have suggested that getting a new cat will help with the pain. And I suppose as a distraction, maybe it would. But it isn’t that I miss having a cat. I miss having Bob. He wasn’t like any other cat I have ever had or known. He was humorous. I taught him how to wink, fetch and kiss on demand. He never once did not respond when called by name. He was so smart and the absolute most loving cat you can imagine. He smothered you in kisses and could never get close enough. His purrs were louder than all others.
This isn’t a great time to be writing. My eyes are swollen and burning. My throat is itchy and I did not fall asleep until 4:30 this morning. My thoughts are scattered and I am drowning in depression. All I can think about is Bob. I want him back. He is suppose to be here. And I know he is gone forever.
Tomorrow I have to go into the real world. I have to work and talk to people and pretend as though my heart is not ripping apart. I have to hide these tears that cannot seem to stop flowing. It will be exhausting. So I need some sleep. Tylenol PM…maybe even an Ativan is definitely in order. Oh God. Waking up is the absolute worst. Having to wake up and realize it all over again…it is just torture.
Please, PLEASE let there be an afterlife. Let Bob be the happiest possible at this very moment. Let him be with his sister playing and purring. Let them both know how much I love them and how much they changed my life. Without them I would have been less of a person. And God, if you are listening…please help me figure out how to stop hurting so very badly.