Unless you’re aware of the special bonds folks share with their pets, or rescued cats in general, this post is likely not for you. From dear friend and swell writer too:
In late March, a veterinarian at one of the local practices called me to ask if I’d consider taking in a young male cat that had been abandoned there. He was a stray that had roamed around a community for a year or more until someone finally grew a conscience and brought him in to the vet’s to be neutered and get vaccines. He tested positive for feline AIDS, and the people who had brought him in told the vet to put him down. Instead, she called me. Since I’d recently been blessed with a small colony of AIDS cats, I agreed to bring him home.
Up to that point, all he’d been called was “the gray cat.” I figured he deserved better than that, so he became Scotty, a play off The Gray-t Catsby. . . F. Scott Fitzgerald.
So often when a cat has been a roamer, they have a tough adjustment to indoor life, but not this guy. Scotty came through the door here and was immediately at home. He mastered the cat flap to access his secure outdoor space in less than a day and instantly took to his new feline AIDS companions: Lana Tuna (who’s missing most of her teeth), Fritz (who only has one eye), and Fabian (who, thanks to vestibular disorder, has a permanently tilted head.) Scotty knew when it was time for me to feed the dogs. He’d go to his outdoor space and watch me from his catbird seat. I swear he’d actually wave to me as I made my way back up the hill.
What a wonderful cat. He’d hurry to meet me whenever I went to the AIDS cats’ suite. He loved to be held and petted and always made sure to stay close to me on those nights I slept with that bunch of cats. We bonded more tightly with each new day.
On the vet’s recommendation, I consented to give him the FCRVP booster shot three weeks after he came to me. He’d had the original shot when he was first brought in to the vet’s office; the booster is considered standard procedure. In hindsight, I fear that permitting that shot was a serious lapse in judgment on my part. A couple of days after that booster shot, he developed a bad case of respiratory crud which rapidly degenerated into pneumonia. I spent the next six weeks pumping antibiotics and sub-q fluids into him. He was so weak and so sick that it appeared there was no hope. But then he rallied, and it looked like he was going to make it. His lungs were clear and his heart was strong.
Last week, he suddenly spiked with a super high fever (105.5) and once again, the vet and I threw most of the pharmacy at him.
It was too late. His compromised immune system couldn’t fight off whatever the new assailant was. I took him to the vet’s office Tuesday morning with the intention of having him put down, but while we were there, Scotty told me he needed to go back home, at least for a day or two.
Weak though he was, Tuesday afternoon, he struggled out to his favorite place in the outdoor enclosure and spent many hours out there basking in the sunshine. That night, he came back inside and climbed into his favorite kitty bed (see first photo), which I think is where he stayed for the next 24 hours. Last night, I went to check on him just before bedtime. He labored out of his bed and then made his way to each of his pals. One by one, he gave each of them a head butt and licked their ears. Then he tucked himself under a chair, exhausted, and stayed there the entire night.
This morning, his abdomen was grossly distended from accumulated fluid, no doubt causing great pain, and he was obviously jaundiced, probably in complete liver failure. He was too weak to even hold his head up. I asked him if he was ready to go to the bridge, and he said he was.
It took less than a quarter of the contents from Dr. Worthy’s syringe to help sweet, adorable Scotty leave this planet for a place where, we can hope, he is free of all illness and enjoying the exuberance of forever after. When I brought him home from the vet’s office this morning, I left his body with Lana, Fritz, and Fabian so that they could see for themselves that he was gone. I think the second picture gives a good representation of them holding their wake for their friend.
The last photo is my handsome, beloved boy in his burial box, surrounded by hydrangeas, daisies, butterfly bush flowers, and gardenias. I only had three months with him —- not nearly long enough.
If you have something (someone) you love in your life, right now go give them a hug and tell them what they mean to you. I promise you, in the blink of an eye, you may find that it’s your last chance to do so.
Please send a good thought for Scotty as he makes his trip and then send one for me as I grieve his departure. The true measure of love is not the length of the relationship, but the depth of the affection. I’ll miss him every day for the rest of my life.
Peace to us all,
I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter — the cast-offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry. “God,” I said, “this is terrible. Why don’t you do something?” God waited until he was sure I was listening and then He spoke softly. “I have done something,” He replied. “I created you.”
Copyright Jim Willis 1999