Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I lost a special pet today. With some pets you just hit the jackpot and you know you'll never get another one that good again. About 15 years ago, our Lab/Great Dane mix Daisy died and no dog has come close to her since.


Jasper was that for a cat. One day a stray decided that she would use my porch as her birthing nest. I walked out one morning and about six kittens were nuzzled against their mother. I fed the mother despite her hissing at me to stay away every time I left the house. She didn't like me, but she liked food and my porch was fenced in and safe. When they started wandering from their mother, I'd try to entice the kittens to come to me. Only one did, a gray kitten with a white bib and golden eyes.


All of them grew up on my porch. I might have adopted Jasper, but I already had too many cats after another stray I adopted turned out to be smuggling hitchhikers in her belly and couldn't justify another. I fed them and had a second little outside family as they grew up. Despite being around them all this time, Jasper was still the only one of them that let me near, but he was extra sweet. Then, about 9 months went by when I noticed that his siblings were disappearing one-by-one. Someone was probably trapping them, which my neighborhood association sometimes does. I had to rescue another one of my cats from a cage I found her in after she disappeared for a couple of days.


I still didn't want another cat, but I couldn't let him disappear, so I asked my mother to take him. She agreed, but he'd need to stay on the porch. Luckily, my sister adopted him as her own and named him. She was going through her thankfully brief Twilight phase, so Jasper became his name. I'd often visit, and he remembered me well, hopping in my lap and purring when I'd show up. But he had a habit of running away.


Then my sister got a dog for her Sweet Sixteen. I rather like the dog, but she has a habit of attacking small animals. She chased Jasper away and he disappeared for about a month. We'd pretty much given up on him when my sister came home from school and found a rail-thin cat sitting on the porch.


Unfortunately, he wasn't completely hale. I'd given him a collar when his siblings began disappearing hoping that would help. It had an elastic band to help reduce the threat of strangulation if it got caught. Well, somehow part of it got underneath his arm pit. It gave him the type of injury you see in a dog that's been sitting out in the sun on a leash and the collar grows into the skin. We immediately took him to the vet, and I allowed him to live at my house while he recovered. He'd have the scar and a small bare line on his neck for the rest of his life. The plan was that eventually my sister would move out and reclaim her cat.


That was about eight years ago. I would have happily given her to my sister when she moved out, but she still hasn't done so. Since then, I've had the best cat I've ever known. He was the perfect balance of being very affectionate without being pushy. He'd sit patiently near me, and when I gave him attention, he'd soak it up for as long as I wished and then returned to comfortably resting nearby. For the good portion of the time when I'd sleep alone, Jasper would make a habit of headbutting me a couple times before curling against my shoulder as I went to sleep to the sound of his purring. I don't even think he slept himself most of the time, he just liked laying next to me.


Seriously, if anyone has ever let a cat or dog sleep on their bed, and heck, more than a few humans, they're a pain in the butt. They try to push you over or wake you up or get caught up in your feet or whatever. Jasper would just lay there next to my shoulder, perfectly comfortable for both of us. I rarely lost any sleep because he was there, and usually it was comforting to have him there.


That was just Jasper, he was very lovable without being annoying or needy. He always seemed aware of me, and would just wait for his turn. He bounced back from his near starvation and became a fat kitty. I always had the problem that you can't put one cat on a diet without starving the rest. But, oddly enough, he was never that pushy for food. He'd let the rest of them take their turn and then sometime later get his portion and then some. And, yeah, he was liked or at least tolerated by all of his roommates. As an outside cat that stayed with his siblings until early adulthood, he was very tolerant of the rest and knew which ones to play with and which to let have their dominance.


Sadly, last week he suddenly had health issues. I actually thought he had a stroke because his back legs went out when he tried to run from the room. I figured that was bad, but I wasn't prepared to lose him yet. Strokes are terrible, but they do their damage and are done until the next one. They aren't progressive. He seemed to be moving okay, so I thought he could recover. The only problem was that he was breathing heavily.


My sister took him to a couple vets. The first was a waste of time. But apparently Jasper's breathing issues were getting worse as the morning continued, and the second immediately sent her to an emergency vet facility where they were prepared for her visit and took him in for oxygen and to clear his lungs of fluid without even bothering to ask. If they'd waited, it'd be too late.


At work, I got a phone call. My sister couldn't make a decision of how to treat him. There were two main options. It could be heart failure, or it could be cancer. Either way, they couldn't promise he'd make it through treatment. Hearing that, I told my sister I would be there soon to put him down and left work (a new job) to say goodbye.


I'd signed the papers and was holding him while we waited to put him down, but the vet came in and advised that it was possible that Jasper could recover for a little while with treatment if it was heart failure. Maybe a year on the outside, but his response to the treatment was somewhere between those that would bounce back for awhile and those that obviously weren't going to make it. So I agreed to allow the treatment.


A few hours later, it was confirmed that he had cancer. He was still responding reasonably well to treatment and the fluid wasn't returning yet, but there would be no bouncing back. His breathing would be short for the rest of his life. I could take him home the next day for a long goodbye. Maybe days, maybe weeks.


It would be a weekend. I can't say I regret it. Bringing him home to say goodbye is what I really wanted to do. I wasn't ready on Thursday. I didn't want him to die in a place where he was so scared by everything. When I picked him up, I was told he was nervous the whole time. But he quickly laid down comfortably at home. He wasn't as affectionate as he usually was, but he was staring outside on what I called sentry duty and sleeping on my bed most of the time.


This morning, I went off to work and scratched him on the head on the way out. He was again looking out the window. He was breathing a bit harder, but I thought it might be because he fought me more that morning than the previous days about taking his medication and was tired. I returned home to find that he had passed. I feel bad that he died without me there, but honestly think he would have preferred it to being shipped off to that scary place in his final moments.


And so ends my little eulogy for my beloved kitty. I don't expect to ever have a cat as good as him. This is a post for myself really, I just wanted to send my love for him out into the world. I've only lost two so far, but more are to come. Sadly, the sweetest and youngest two went first.



Link to post
Share on other sites

So much better that you let him go out in his own surroundings. And had you been at home he probably would've slinked off somewhere solitary (like under the house) to die alone. I think most cats hide away somewhere quiet when they know they're gonna go.


Sorry for your loss. I'm having a beer right now and I'll dedicate this one to your cat.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a cat when I was younger that was very similar to your story, except for a kidnapping. My little sister (around 6 at the time) found the biggest and meanest stray female Manx I have ever seen. She fought that thing into submission, with blood dripping from her face and arms by the time she got it home, and somehow enticed it to stay in the neighborhood. That cat hated everyone and everything, my sister was always trying to lose an eyeball to it trying to give it a kiss or something.


Eventually the cat got knocked up, by a Siamese. We had six kittens that looked totally Siamese except for they had no tail. One of them was a LOT bigger than the others and swayed his behind as he waddled. My sister wanted to name him "Caboose", she got vetoed. She countered with "Bigs" (although I am 90% sure she was going to say "Big Ass" and cut it short), it stuck.


We only kept him and he was the coolest cat I ever saw. He would lay out in the middle of the yard and bath in the sun. A dog would come by and spot him and give a bark to start the chase. Bigs would just lift his head and give it an evil look for a few seconds, and if the dog didn't charge he would lay his head back down. If it did charge, he would lay there looking at it until it got about 10 feet away, then went straight for the face. I never saw a dog last any longer than it took to turn around. I saw that cat catch birds straight out of the air at least a half dozen times, which is quite a feat for a cat without a tail.


I did lose some sleep to him though. That cat woke me up regularly by jumping right on my chest when he came in from his night prowl. He figured out how to open my window and I would always forget to put the dowel back in it after I came through. Then he got to wake me up again in the morning while I was sleeping it off by slapping me around a bit. He could get in my window, but he couldn't get back out.

He lived almost 13 years. He eventually met his match in old age. Got a wound on a hind leg that got infected. By the time he came home he was in in bad shape. It was night and the vet wasn't open, even if my dad would have taken a 12 year old cat to the vet. We cleaned him up the best we could and prepared ourselves to guilt dad into taking the cat to the vet the next day. He didn't make it to morning.


It sucks to lose a long lived pet with personality. It would suck worse not to know what it's like to have had one.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry for your loss. I dread the day I lose my dog, who is my first real pet ever. He has helped me through so much. I can feel how much your cat meant to you and, while I am sad to hear of his passing, I am glad that you were able to give him a comfortable goodbye.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Create New...