I had to put my cat of 13 years, Oscar, to sleep nearly two weeks ago.
I’ve never felt so deeply saddened by a decision I executed without a shred of regret.
I found my old friend at the ASPCA, where he cowered in the back in a cage labeled, “George”. According to this cage, George was a loving, two year old cat whose previous owners had to part with him because they had concerns about having a baby and a cat.
All lies, I tell you. Lies!
What actually hid inside that cage was a huge, unneutered, 8 month old cat who was easily overstimulated and was a bit of a biter. He didn’t bite hard enough to cause injury, but it was enough to be very unpleasant. He had little thumbs which clicked when he walked, which at least allowed one an opportunity to take cover before he lunged.
I named him Oscar. He sucked, but he was mine. I loved him from the minute I held him.
He would run back and forth across my apartment, headbutting mugs off the arm rests of the futons. He burnt part of his whiskers off on a lit candle. He got stuck in a basket. He chewed on cables. He went too far onto the ledge when the cable guy left the window open and may have only survived due to rapid foodbag shaking. He was prone to lunging at the faces of people with sinus congestion.
He developed chronic urinary tract problems, which were only sorted after endless veterinary bills and the procedural equivalent of a gender change.
He ate half a stick of butter, and only stopped eating when I took it away. He rode the train to Albany in a cardboard box labelled, “glasses” and kept me company while I recovered from surgery. He played fetch with me while I did my calculus homework. He let burglars empty my apartment. He threw up on my loft bed while I was out. He started to purr for us.
He terrorized my mother’s little dog, only to be terrorized himself by the cats he shared his home with. He howled through the night. He loved sleeping with us. He was such a nag I got him an automatic feeder. He was aggressive towards rollerblades.
He made my home a home. He became a lap kitty. He rested his head on my wrist for hours while I typed, working from home with a broken foot. He stopped fighting at bathtime. He managed to wake up my deeply sleeping housemate while I was in South America by slamming into his door.
He mellowed. He flew on planes and was pet by children. He was too tall for the cat-sized cargo carrier. He held it for over 30 hours when transported from my brother’s in Florida to London. He developed a fear of suitcases but overcame his fear of the vaccuum.
He developed diabetes. It aged him rapidly. We gave him insulin. He stopped being able to jump onto the bed. We bought him a ridiculous set of stairs. He grew thin. He still wasn’t much for having his picture taken.
He began breathing very quickly. Possibly a chest infection, maybe tumors, the tests were inconclusive. There were antibiotics, a nebulizer, and the aerokat. They alleviated his symptoms, but it didn’t cure him. He grew thinner and weaker each month. The nebulizer made him fear us, the stress exacerbated his diabetes. Still, he tried to eat my ice cream. He remained social and seemed happy to be with us.
When the antibiotics ran out after four months of subcutaneous injections, we stopped the medication. In the week that followed, he grew more weak. I didn’t want him to suffer.
His favorite people came to visit. We had a bit of a party.
Saturday came, and I took him to the Vet for the last time. He was peaceful.