Sunday morning I received a reminder of just how much my pet, a true family member, means to me. I am part of a married couple. We met a bit later in life when things were already going quite well… so there are no kids, just us, and my cat. “Cat” (who does have a real name…but no one else’s has been used here so I will give him the same consideration) is a fixture at home, sleeping in the bay window, impressively reminding us when it is exactly time for 6am and 6pm feedings, going a little cat-crazy some evenings just as we have settled into bed, sometimes ignoring us and doing his own thing. He’s good at being a cat.
Sunday morning we awoke early and his head was tilted sideways, one eye was dilated and he was pacing in circles (sometimes figure eights) and unstable on his feet. Did he have a stroke, is there anything he could have possibly gotten into, will he be all right…?
I took longer than usual to get ready just in case I was about to say goodbye at the animal hospital. Logically, I have been preparing for this. When I adopted him, I was his third home and now he is 16 years old. Emotionally, I am absolutely not ready. I kept trying to see if he was in pain but he seemed happy, just confused. After a couple of hours he was still pacing, very tired and not eating— we left for the hospital.
In acknowledging I may have to say goodbye to my friend I first wanted to make sure he wasn’t suffering. That is my biggest fear. My family loves its animals but sometimes too much and more than once we have unknowingly prolonged suffering more than necessary because we could not bear to part ways. I am determined, no matter how difficult, to not do this to him.
Some see cats as aloof or cold or not as loving as dogs (which are great too) but I don’t agree. Cat has stuck by me longer than a few friendships, he outlasted a marriage, has been a fixture at grrl’s nights, he tested potential dates for me (sometimes showing better judgement than I did) and he has been with me longer than my husband. Cat is the one who waits on the bathroom rug for me to wake in the morning, he paces at my feet while I make coffee and sometimes sits on the toilet seat waiting for me to get ready. He greets me at the door at the end of the day and stays a little closer when I am sick and a lot closer if it’s just the two of us at home. I can’t imagine him not being around but I know at some point I will have to.
Many hours later… after all the talk of medical history, lab tests run, worst-case scenarios and possible neurological appointments discussed, my anti-vet, very angry, wobbly cat was returned to me yesterday afternoon and we were able to go home. He is on an antibiotic just in case of a deep inner ear infection. He has been diagnosed with vestibular disease which in many cases goes away on it’s own and, lucky for us, it looks like that is what is happening.
I am very thankful to know we have some more time.