I am going to sound like a really terrible person, but there’s just no way around it. Fatty Lumpkin was the worst cat. He had a mean streak like no other feline I’ve known. I can’t say the number of times he bit me, came at me with claws. Guests to our home would be afraid of our attack kitty, and I’m pretty sure the vet had extensive notes warning their fellow docs to watch out.
My best friend Doug, before he passed away, would always say, “But Fatty’s just misunderstood.” I loved that Doug loved my terrible cat. He would have taken him in, had I asked. I’m pretty staunch on the whole pet adoption thing. That cat could have taken me to hell and back (we did come close a couple of times), but I couldn’t bail on the commitment I made once I took him in.
Fatty calmed down over the years, and we figured out how to co-exist. Now and again he’d remind me he still had that old fire, could draw blood, but mostly, he softened. To my surprise, he became a lap cat. We found our own understanding of one another.
Earlier this year, Fatty started losing weight. Initially we thought it was because we switched dog food, and he didn’t like the new flavor. He’d been sneaking from the dogs for years, thwarting our careful attempts to measure his food and get him to a reasonable weight. When he kept losing, we went to the vet and learned he was diabetic. His condition declined quickly. His back legs were getting wonky. He could no longer jump up to the bed. He was having a hard time cleaning his paws. It was heart-breaking to watch.
On April 12th, we made the decision that it was cruel to prolong his life. By then his bones jutted out so sharply, he was hard to pet. On his final day he calmly purred in my lap, even at the vet.
I didn’t make a big announcement. I wasn’t really sure how to pay tribute to this cat I mostly loved, but at times loathed. Grief is hard enough. Throw on mixed feelings, and it’s a pretty toxic cocktail of mourning and guilt. And I couldn’t help but think about the bond between Doug and my cat – it stirred up my grief for Doug too, a loss compounded with another loss.
In the days after his euthanasia, I had a series of strange moments. I opened the window, and waited, expectant. It was he first time in years Fatty didn’t come to explore the open window. I thought I felt the cat brush up against my leg while I washed dishes in the kitchen. A moth fluttered through the house, nothing stirred.
This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: “Aloha. What did you say goodbye to this year? Was it a bad habit? A ’94 hatchback? Or something less tangible? How did you feel the day after? The week after?”