I did one of the most adult things you can do last night so why do I feel like a little boy with a broken heart?
We had seen the two cats in the neighborhood for weeks. Due to it being Vegas and transient, it’s amazing but there are many people who leave their animals behind (even when they move across town). These assholes should be killed but that’s for another day’s blog. Anyway, it was a summer evening and our air conditioner was on the fritz so we had the front door open to the condo. Michael said, “Hunney, look over there.” As I looked into the kitchen I saw this little black and white ball of fur with scottish fold ears and half a Hitler mustache looking back at me. She had stopped before hitting the kitchen as if to say, “Someone coming over here to make me something?” We had seen her and a larger cat that looked just like her around the neighborhood but here she was IN the condo. She did not leave hungry, nor had it been her first time here, Michael would tell me later. The larger cat spent more time trying to figure out if we could be trusted. Due to their size difference, I assumed the big cat was the Mom and the little one was the runt of the litter that she had somehow saved from the Vegas jungle. After much coaching, the larger cat came into the house too and we discovered it was a boy. They have the same markings on their nose so they’re definitely related and on that fateful night back in the early 2000s when they both had entered our home, the deal was made.
Oh sure, at first Michael said, “Let’s give them one week of living in luxury and then we’ll find a no-kill shelter where they can be adopted.” First of all, I was naive (having only owned one pet previously) and thought this made sense and could happen that way. That was until I could see them sleeping with their paws around one another, see him wait for her to eat before he ate (no doubt how he protected her when they were on their own) and when he laid his chest on mine, whiskers brushing my face as we watched television together, I was hooked.
I wanted to name them, “Lockwood and Lamont” for the first show we had done together, Singin’ In The Rain. Michael hated those names. Finally we settled on Fiyero and Elphaba from the musical Wicked we’d just seen in New York. They were both about four minutes away from being ferrel with anyone but us and much like us had their own quirks. Fiyero had to finish every conversation and at times, just loved hearing himself talk so much that he would go into the bathtub to hear his voice reverberate. Elphaba was quiet, I swear if we ever got her tested, she’d be “on the spectrum” as they say but we love them.
They remained indoor/outdoor cats and Fiyero loved to “can it” as Michael put it. He would bring home half eaten pork chops from garbage cans along with bites from other cats (he was one of those bullies, where his mouth would write a check his ass couldn’t cash, but could be bitten and cause a $500 vet bill). He loved to get dirty, hated to be bathed (though I secretly think he did it on purpose sometimes when he wasn’t getting enough attention). Yes, he was my penance for my childhood. Never shutting his mouth, always needing attention and with me every minute of the day. He had to be in the bathroom with me and at night, he stood guard. Literally, he would sit beside my head checking my breath all night and should I make the slightest indication I might be awake, he would meow until I was fully awake to pet and love on him. Made for some creepy times when I would wake up with a start to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and find myself face to whiskers with him. But how I love him.
So when he started throwing up on a more regular basis (again, a lot like me, I spent a lot of my childhood throwing up too) it was finally time for a vet visit. It’s amazing how much I learned from my parents without knowing it. When I was a child, throwing up, it was my father whose hand was always on my back making circular motions, talking me through it, calming me and letting me know he was there with and for me. When Fiyero began throwing up I would hear the other worldly, “I’m about to throw up here” yowl he was making at 1am, I would jump up, get him off the bed and onto the floor (so I didn’t have to change soiled bedding) and there I would be, right next to him making circular motions on his back telling him it would be okay. I don’t know if it helped him, I hope it did because having my Dad there always helped me.
The $600 diagnosis was kidney failure. And although it was just x-rays, blood work, a scan and urine test, by the time I got him home he wasn’t our Fiyero anymore. So strange, for weeks it was him as him and then once a night he’d “throw up a river” and go back to being himself but somehow once the vet put a name to it, that was “all she wrote” as my father would say. We tried some medicine but after two days of no drinking or eating, the fear became he would have one of those horrible deaths by dehydration so you become a grown up, you do the right thing, you hold him and take him in and let them quietly, “put him down.”
They took us to a room at the vet and then we waited..and waited. Then I had to pull a little Shirley MacLaine and go to the front desk. “We’ve been waiting for 20 minutes here, this is not easy and you’re really not helping us here.” Girl Assistant, “They haven’t brought your cat in?” Me, “I’ve got no cat, no doctor, NOTHING so would you please get someone on it? NOW?!?” She scurried away, they brought him in with the catheters in his forearms and then the doctor finally came in talking about a cardiac arrest in the other room he was dealing with and apologizing. Down to business. Fiyero was laying there looking from Michael to me and back again. The doctor explained the 3 shots in the series and how he would react to each one, asking us to let him know how much time we wanted before he proceeded. Michael was a mess, his tears and snot landing in Fiyero’s fur. My hand on Michael’s back making circular motions, I looked at the doctor and said, “Go, do it. Do it now.” One shot, just water to ensure they could get everything in his system. Second shot, like a Xanax but as soon as it went in Fiyero stood up, tried to change position and then went back to his original laying position, his nose wetter than it had been in days, his eyes just looking forward, not focusing on Michael or me, a manufactured calm. Third shot, the lethal dose. Fiyero still staring ahead as the doctor used his stethoscope to tell us he was gone and to take as much time as we needed. The vet wiped his own tears away, shook our hands and then there we were, just the three of us but really only two, for one had already left the building. Michael kept trying to close Fiyero’s eyes with no success. I thought I saw an ear twitch. We both lost it, got it back and lost it again, held him, held each other and didn’t really want to leave that room.
Seeing him laying there naked (we left his collar at home) on the steel table I couldn’t help but think we’ll all end here some day. I hope I look so regal (and thin) laid out as Fiyero, I hope I have the people who love me most there to comfort one another that I’m no longer there. I cried like a little kid last night, those quick, short, intakes of air that really does no good as the tears and snot pour. I haven’t cried like that in years. I haven’t been reminded in years that I’m still the kid I always was and although I do a lot of grown up things, this is one that is best left for the child in me. To be heartbroken, unable to catch my breath or comprehend why (even though the adult in me understands) why I had to be an adult and let go of my best friend last night.
Warning: If even one motherfucker talks about the “rainbow bridge” for pets in comments I’ll kick the shit out of you until you’re visiting the God Damned made up rainbow bridge.