On July 3, on a dark-late night, we lost a member of the family – Chester, our cat.
My daughter named him when we first met him as the neighborhood outdoor cat, who mainly stayed near the house next door. He was an emaciated, affectionate cat who wanted and needed love almost more than the extra food we regularly doled out.
He was ugly.
Chester was losing fur, and parts of it were matted. He was skinny. I didn’t want my daughter petting him, for I didn’t know what disease(s) or parasites he carried. I hardly touched him myself for the very same reason.
But, despite this, he was a persistent little purrific thing who kept trying to win us over with his charm. He must have known we were cat people, for as soon as he saw my car pull up into the driveway, he would run to the driver’s door and try to make his way into the car. I gently shooed him away, saying “No, baby, you can’t come in.”
But Ari and I kept feeding him. Then, he would try to make his way into our home each time the door opened, and I once again gently shooed him away, saying, “No baby, you can’t come in.” Besides, I had two cats already, and adding a third to the feline mix was out of the question.
I was also bent on not becoming this weird cat lady.
But my heart broke for him, especially as the weather got chillier. Each day, he would take refuge from the Chicago winds under my neighbor’s car.
He worked his way into our hearts for good and our home on December 19, 2012. It was 19 degrees out, and he was miserable. After giving him food on my porch as I always did, he walked into the half-open front door and into my arms. I picked him up and was disconcerted by the fact that he weighed almost nothing, despite my feeding him lots of food regularly.
I carried him inside, and to keep him separated from the other cats, I set him up in a spare bedroom and created a makeshift litterbox from a cardboard box. The next day, Ari and I took him to the vet. The good news: he didn’t have contagious diseases. The bad news: he was a geriatric cat that had thyroid disease, some intestinal issues, and the beginning stage of renal failure.
While I knew better than to spend money on a cat like this, I doled out the money anyway. My heart would have it no other way.
Chester started recovering; he gained weight and actually felt like a cat when I lifted him up. His fur started looking healthy, revealing himself as a handsome cat. He purred constantly when petted, and his new household was one of warmth, love, and security. Eventually, when he was healthy enough, we gradually integrated him with the other cats. It didn’t go great at first, but the cats eventually started to co-exist well.
While Chester was healthier than he had been in a long time, he never quite got healthy enough. Multiple trips to the vet ensued, and I needed to medicate him regularly for thyroid disease and gastrointestinal problems. Yet, there were times he would bounce back and seem very happy. But in the long run, he wasn’t getting better. He was becoming more listless. And last week, he started withdrawing under the bed and not eating. Once again, I brought him to the vet, and they rehydrated him and gave him an anti-nausea medication. He had a hearty appetite for about two days.
Then he got really sick. I decided that his suffering had to end. So Ari and I and Chester went to an emergency vet, she not knowing that only two of us would return home. The animal hospital was backlogged with patients, and the staff would have to euthanize Chester in the middle of the night. We left him there. Ari was so tired, she didn’t even notice.
The next day, Ari learned about death – in an age-appropriate way. And she cried, for this experience was not like that of the goldfish that died at school.
Despite the medical costs and, to some, the unwise decision to take an elderly, sick cat into the house, I have no regrets. The day Chester walked into our home door for good, he would never walk away from our hearts.
Rest in peace, my dear friend.
Do you have any animal stories you would like to share?
Do/did you have a special pet in your life?
Tags: cat, euthanasia, pets