bunchofgrapes: (Cirque - Rainbow)
[personal profile] bunchofgrapes
My special kitty boy, Harry, passed away yesterday. I had hoped he would make it to his 12th birthday but as it was, he barely made it to mine. He was ready; I wasn't. But when I finally realized it wasn't about me, I made the decision on March 20th at 2pm. I wrote the following when I first found out that he had cancer. It was a Friday and I was at work. Thankfully, it was a slow day because I cried for a full hour as I typed most this up. I'm adding to it now because I want to remember his last days.



I'd just lost my cat, Basil, on December 12, 2002 but still had my other cat, Emma. She was 14 when Basil died and had been a tiny feral kitten when I got her. She was a very sweet kitty but she had always been a bit standoffish, which was the complete opposite of Basil, who followed me around the house and plopped into my lap the minute I sat down. Emma was not that cat and I missed it when I lost Basil but I wasn't ready until about six months later, when I finally decided the time was right to get adopt a kitten. I headed over to the county animal shelter intent on getting a ginger tabby. They had three kittens but all of them were "timid". Timid is the rescue word for feral and I already had Emma. I wanted another Basil. At the animal shelter, they bring the prospective adopter into a small room and then bring in the kitten. You get to play and hold the kitten or cat (I also checked out a couple of older kitties) and see how they react. The little ginger would never come near me and the older, Maine Coon cat was sweet but looked too much like Basil. I left disappointed but I didn't give up. I went back a week or so later.

He was a little bitty thing perched on a ledge by the big glass window and every time I walked by, he yeowled and yeowled. Pick me, pick me, pick me! He wasn't at all what I was looking for but how could I refuse his constant demands? So I asked to see him and went to wait in the little visitor room while they brought him to me. I forget how small he was at 8 weeks old but obviously, his lungs were ginormous! I heard him before I saw him. I took him from the tech and the first thing he did was crawl onto my shoulder, nuzzle his head against my neck, and start to purr. He'd found his forever home right then. I had to pick him up from my vet after he'd been neutered. It was July 6th, 2003. I named him Harry after Admiral Harriman Nelson from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the name fit. He was the curious kitten who had to investigate everything, every nook or cranny in the house, every bag, box, or suitcase - he was in it. He was also the kitten who would see his reflection in a glass door and instantly fizz up and pounce sideways. He was the doofus who secretly walked on the furniture and irritated the snot out of his sister, Emma, and ate/pooped a whole rubber band.




Because he was so tiny, I was afraid he'd get lost in the house (this happened to Emma when she was a kitten) so I kept him isolated to one bedroom and every morning before work I'd go and sit with him. If he could, he'd try to get on my shoulder and nuzzle against my neck but mostly he was content to get onto my lap and go to sleep, his little motor buzzing. For a long time I think he was convinced that I was a big kitty because he'd constantly try to groom me. Very quickly it became obvious that he was exactly what I was looking for: a mama's boy like my Basil had been. And he was smart! He could fetch - actually chase after and bring back a wadded up piece of paper (he'd go and find a paper wad and bring it to me if he thought I was just sitting around, doing nothing) - and he could high five.

He never grew into a big tabby cat. He had small ears and little feet but he was the alpha and when Tucker the kitten joined the family four years later, Harry took it upon himself to be his big brother and groomer. Even as Tucker got a whole lot bigger, he still went to Harry for a face wash every so often.



I still have Sophie (11) and Tucker (8) and they are very sweet, loving kitties. But Harry was my protector. He was my special boy who was always near. When I'm upset, he's beside me, his paw on my arm letting me know he's there. When I sleep, he's next to me or, if I'm in a chair watching television, he's on my shoulder.

I got the preliminary diagnosis of cancer back in January but it wasn't confirmed so I was optimistic. I took him for a CT in early February and it was confirmed. He had esophageal cancer and only a 3mm opening for food to pass, which is why he was spitting up all the time and losing weight. We started him on Prednisone and that seemed to help quite a bit but obviously, it wasn't a cure. I'd talked to the Internist about doing a biopsy and possibly treating it with chemo if possible but she didn't recommend it because of its location. She didn't think getting the tissue for a biopsy was going to work and he'd have to be off the Prednisone for two weeks and I didn't think he could survive that. As it was, the cancer seemed to be gaining ground, with his spitting up and throwing up coming more and more frequently. What was worse is that he was still hungry but the cancer wasn't letting him eat.

He had good days that gave me hope and bad days that made me cry and wonder if he'd make it another day, much less a week. One of those days was last Sunday. Everything started out okay and then by later in the afternoon, I was certain I was going to have to take him in the next day. But he rebounded and actually had a very good Monday. I took Sophie in for her appointment on Monday afternoon and talked to the vet then. We decided on March 20th as the date for Harry. My birthday was Thursday and I was going to try to take the day off (didn't work out) or at least work from home and I was off that Friday. I went back and forth many times on Monday, especially as he was doing so well but then on Tuesday, when I got home from work, it was obvious by all the places on the floor that he'd had a very bad day. It also looked like he might have thrown up some blood as well. My mind was made up. I had to do this for him, not me, and the best decision was Friday and I would spend as much time as I could with him that last week. Monday and Tuesday night we sat in the big, comfy chair and he crawled onto his favorite spot on my shoulder and went to sleep while I watched TV. He slept in his favorite spot next to me and each morning, he did his usual head butt for more scritches. Wednesday I worked from home, spent time with my boy but it was obvious that he didn't feel very good and spent most of the evening in his favorite sleeping spot. Thursday was a good day for him. He ate well and only spit up once, he watched TV with me all evening and curled up next to me in bed. Friday morning, after breakfast (he ate well again), we sat in the chair. I watched Parks and Recreation while he got on my shoulder and went to sleep. We stayed like that until it was time to go.

My vet had said that she would come to the house but she wanted me to be aware that the memory will be there. I decided I wanted to take him in because of how it might affect Sophie and Tucker. I put him in the carrier and he went willingly but when we got to the vet's, I took him out of the carrier and carried him in. Harry used to weigh 10 lbs. In January he was down to 9lbs but now he had to be close to 6lbs. I could feel him shaking as I held him so I know he was either scared or cold, probably a little of both. We went right in to the room and the tech said she'd get a blanket. In the meantime Harry looked out the window for a bit and then got down. I wanted a place to hide so he was trying to get into my jacket that was on the back of the chair. Thankfully, the tech, Monica, brought in a nice, woolly blanket. Harry likes to get under things so I made a little tent for him and he settled onto my lap and stopped shaking.



And then it was time. Harry was on my lap on top of the blanket. He had settled there and was content to be with his mom. Dr. W. first administers a shot of anesthesia. She said that when she gives it, he might bite. I said that was okay so she gave it to him and he did turn quickly and nipped at my hand but that was fine. As quickly as he did that, he immediately jumped up and put his front paws and his head on my shoulder. And that's where he stayed until he relaxed under the anesthesia. I like to think that that was his last, happy memory - having his mommy protect him - and it made me remember that when he was a kitten I'd taken him in for his series of kitten shots. After the first needle stick, he'd jumped right onto my shoulder, just like that. As he got more and more relaxed, I lowered him onto my lap and held him. My vet shaved a little patch of soft fur off his tummy for me to keep and then she gave him the final drug. He passed very quickly, probably before she was even done, so I know he was ready and it was time. But it doesn't make it hurt any less. The worst part was coming home afterward. Tucker met me at the door, so that was good, but there are so many reminders: his favorite toys, the blanket he cuddled in Monday night, his food bowl. I spent last night uploading videos I'd taken on my phone to my computer and then I watched them. In one video Harry meows several times. Sophie was on my lap when I played it and immediately transfixed on the video. She did that every single time I played it. Today she has been calling for him and of course that breaks my heart. I'm sure every day will be a little better but I miss him so much.

I remember when I first took him to the vet, the same vet who was with him when he passed, and she'd said that Harry had won the kitty lottery. No, I won the kitty lottery. I like to think that I picked him but in reality, he knew he was the one for me. He picked me. He was my best friend, a very special kitty boy, and I will miss him so very much.

Rest in peace, Harrybear. You're in good company.

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