Saturday was a very sad day for me. I had to say goodbye to my 17-year-old cat, Oliver, after a week of seeing him decline from kidney disease. Oliver was diagnosed two years ago with Chronic Kidney Disease. He held up well until August when his physical showed a weight loss of three pounds, down from fifteen pounds to eleven, and his blood work confirmed that he was now in Stage 4 of the disease. A few months before that, he had begun yowling early in the morning. I’ve heard that senior cats do that sometimes, but looking back, I think it was part of his illness.
Last week, Oliver began to lose weight even more rapidly especially in his hind legs that were now so weak he had difficulty walking down the hall to his water bowl, climbing up on my bed, or on the table in the outside enclosed room where he liked to sunbathe. I was boiling him chicken every day and feeding him in bed. He would meow to let me know when he needed to be lifted up. Otherwise, he was very quiet. He would hardly purr when I petted him and would no longer sleep near my pillow where he used to sleep every night. He appeared listless and depressed. His beautiful blue eyes had sunk into his face. His fur was dull, and he hardly cleaned himself. I recognized all these signs as the dehydration he was suffering from by his failing kidneys. It brought back memories of my cat, Benny, who at eight-years old suffered kidney failure and went into a coma. My mother and I had been treating him with sub-q fluid injections under the skin, but he was not responding. I raced home from work that day when she called me to tell me he was in a coma and carried him wrapped in a blanket on my lap to the vets where he was helped along to Rainbow Bridge. The vet told me he was on his way already, but at least I got to spend the end with him. I vowed to do the same with Oliver if it came to that, but I wouldn’t let it go that far.
I was lucky to have a vet come to my house to check Oliver. She was compassionate and visited us every day to give him fluids and help make him comfortable. Friday night, she explained to me that Oliver wasn’t going to recover and that it was up to me when I was ready to say goodbye to him. At this point, he was barely making it around the house. He was not having a quality of life. The following day, I had to work. A few hours after I started, my husband called to tell me that Oliver had gone behind the headboard of my bed. I knew that hiding in a dark place was a sign that a cat was preparing to die. I rushed home and contacted my vet. When she came over, she helped me take Oliver out of his hiding place. She told me he was letting me know he was ready, so it would be easier for me to make my decision to let him go in peace.
We placed Oliver on his cat bed outside on the patio where he’d loved to sit and sun himself, and the vet administered a sedative to relax him. I stood by him brushing, kissing, and talking to him. When she gave the dose that would send him to Rainbow Bridge, she let me have some moments alone with him and then took out a kit where she made a set of paw prints and clipped some fur. Although I’d buried my other cats, I’d decided to have Oliver cremated, and she said she would take care of this for us but that it would take about three weeks to get his ashes. I had also purchased a pretty urn in which to store them because I knew the time was arriving when I would need it. I planned to keep it in my room where he always stayed waiting for me when I got home from work and when he slept with me with his paw on my pillow, and I would stroke his handsome chest.
That’s the story of how I said goodbye to Oliver, but there’s more to his story than that. Oliver was a special cat to many people, and he appeared in two articles I wrote for Catster.com. The following is how Oliver came to us as a senior cat of 13 and how he gave us four and a half wonderful years. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/what-i-learned-senior-citizen-cat-adoption.
The second article is one that won me an award from Hartz in the Cat Writers Association contest. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/brush-your-cat-for-bonding-beauty-and-better-health
I also wrote a story last year called, The Path to Rainbow Bridge, in which a Siamese cat is the one of the main characters. Many of my cats are featured in this tale, and I am offering the eBook copy free from Monday, November 6 to Friday, November 10, to those who have lost their own beloved pets.
In addition to these articles and that story, I also feature a Siamese cat in my Cobble Cove mystery series. Sneaky the library cat is based on Oliver. I have also included a Siamese of the same name in my upcoming standalone mystery, Reason to Die, which will be published by Solstice Publishing and am currently writing the first book of another cozy mystery series that I plan to dedicate to Oliver.
To end this post, here’s a poem I wrote for my sweet Oliver:
Ode to Oliver
There’s a spot next to my pillow that’s bare.
Oliver always used to sleep there.
He loved me to stroke his chest.
Of all my cats, he was one of the best.
He was a handsome Siamese cat.
There was no doubt about that.
Although we only had him four years,
I can’t help shedding so many tears.
His favorite spot was his cat bed.
It’s so hard to believe he’s dead.
He did such cute things in the past,
like fishing in his water bowl where he made quite a splash.
He loved to be brushed,
and his fur was so lush.
His loud voice in the morning was my alarm clock,
Losing him is still a shock.
But he’s out of pain now on Rainbow Bridge waiting for me
with my other special cats who one day I will see.