Saturday, February 21, 2015

The cat who loved me

Though I've had a lot of cats over the course of my lifetime, I was never really all that fond of cats -- until I met Alex.

Alex was really a dog in a cat suit -- embarrassingly affectionate and deeply loyal, he was the personification -- or felinification? -- of unconditional love.  He would drop everything and run to me if I called his name, stretching his paws up my legs and begging to be picked up, then wrapping those paws around my neck and licking my cheek or chin.

Whenever I sat down for any length of time, Alex would curl on my lap, butting his head into the crook of my elbow or nuzzling the hollow beneath my chin and relentlessly kneading with his sharp claws, demanding all the while that I keep stroking his ridiculously soft fur.

So when, last May, it was discovered that he had a salivary tumor, we were devastated.  Sometimes they can grow really fast, we were told; his breathing passages might be cut off in a matter of weeks.  So we canceled trips we had planned and began living each day as if it might be his last. 

His cheek began to swell, and the hard knot beside his chin grew larger and harder, stretching across his throat, and still his life and mood seemed unchanged: he still went for walks with us and the dog every night, spent hours out in the dune grass stalking and catching the birds and rodents who dared to venture onto our property, and curled happily into my arms whenever I sat down, loudly purring his appreciation for our time together.

They told us he would probably be gone by Christmas, but when 2015 arrived he was still going strong.  He became a bit of a picky eater, but was otherwise still very much himself until two days ago, when suddenly everything just... stopped.  He curled up on the heated floor in our back room and didn't move -- didn't eat, or drink, or hunt for his cat box -- and so we knew the time had come.  We let him sleep with us that night, knowing he was too weak to be the disruptive presence that had gotten him kicked out of bed in the first place, and in the morning we took him in for his last vet visit.

It wasn't our first pet euthanasia -- by now we knew the drill.  But it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye.  I know the grief will pass with time, and know there will be other cats to love. But still, today, right here, right now, the ache of love, for what was lost, still overshadows the gratitude I feel for all the joy he brought into our lives.  Farewell, my dear, dear friend -- and thanks so much for all the love you shared.


Maureen said...

Sad for this loss, Diane. Blessings and hugs.

Anonymous said...

Dear cat - what a beautiful account of his life. Thoughts and prayers from Dorset, UK. It's hard to lose a friend like that...

Janice said...

I know exactly how you feel. A few months ago, our own dear feline companion had to be euthanized when her kidneys finally failed completely, after limping along for several years. It was absolutely the right thing to do but, knowing that, didn't do much to ease the pain and or sense of loss. The memories of 17+ wonderful years of companionship were and are some comfort but I still miss her wise, loving little soul every single day. Sincerest condolences.

Sandra said...

What a sweet and touching post about your loveable and much loved feline friend. I know how hard it is when they have to go.