I think my sweet, opinionated, stubborn, warm, beautiful and sometimes aggravating cat,Julian, is showing signs he is sick and progressing towards that destination where he goes off peacefully and leaves this world with my son, his companion/sista from anotha motha Bella, and I.
Except I cannot fathom existing in a world where he no longer does.
He was MY CONSTANT COMPANION. My dude. My sidekick. Took up 3/4 of my king sized bed and I had to thank him for the small spot he granted me to squeeze into each night. There were times I woke up with my heart full because he’d be pressed right up against me in the morning, softly breathing.
We moved here last September and he had his spot along the pillow I didn’t sleep on. He’d wait until I smoothed the covers out just so and then settle in. If I got up to pee, he’d look at me quizzically and I’d say, ‘it’s okay, I’m coming back’. I would, and we’d both fall back asleep. Hell, I would almost go so far as to say he was trained to wait until the alarm rang before he would start meowing for treats.
He always had a bit of an emotionally needy edge to him, more so than Bella anyway. He’d cry just a bit louder, a few times more, as if to say, ‘I’m so lonely, come love me!’ My heart could never stand it and I would plead with my son to ‘do something’. He’d say, ‘mom, he’s fine!’
Bella liked to sleep in my son’s closet and sometimes Julian joined her, but his spot was usually curled up on the dining room chair. If I was in my room watching tv, and he knew I had food, he’d make his way in hoping for a bite.
My son and I have been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix (I already watched all the seasons years ago but he hasn’t), and Julian has been laying on the top edge of the couch, sleeping. I have many nicknames for him, but my favourite one lately is ‘Baby J’. I’ve been softly stroking his face, outwards from his nose, along the side of his face and saying ‘Baby JAY…!’ I have also had this inner sense of discontent for at least 3 months, and told my son numerous times that I wanted to pursue taxidermy (that is, until I read about the particulars of how you have to ship your pet TO the people to have them forever preserved), because I could not imagine my life without seeing my sweet little guy parading around.
I’ve lost pets before. We had to put our dog, Blackie down when I was 19. She had repeated ear problems and the vet suspected a heart condition. She loved the vet, and was freaking out with excitement when we got out of the car in the parking lot, making it that much more excruciating. We had another dog, Gordy. She lived with my brother and his girlfriend when she passed at the age of 15.
Pets are family. They understand you. Hear you. Comfort you. Let you pick the tv shows every time.
I was deathly afraid of cats and Julian taught me how to love and be with cats. How to trust them.
For the past few days, he hasn’t been sleeping on the dining room chair, he’s been hiding god knows where. I believe he’s been deep within my son’s closet, where it’s dark and quiet, and he hasn’t come in my room when my alarm rings in DAYS. I can’t remember the last time he slept in my room. It’s like he’s slowly withdrawing from us and stopping communicating. It actually is painfully similar to the pattern my mom went through as she withdrew from the world and succumbed to death as cancer took her.
A couple days ago, he was in the bathroom, and he was doing this almost hoarse cough like trying to catch his breath clearing his throat thing. Because I have been fixated on his ‘withdrawl’ and “it means he’s dying!”, I was especially panicked and repeatedly called out to my son/texted my son from my room to check on the cat, something is wrong. My son tried to reassure me and said he most likely is going to cough up a hair ball. “Mom. He’s ok”
Tonight, I was laying here and Julian jumped up. I noticed immediately that something about his breathing was different. It was quicker, and it seemed as though his sides were moving in and out much quicker than normal. And the weirdest thing—his neck and chest suddenly looked thinner, like he lost weight. He didn’t appear uncomfortable, gasping, in pain, and didn’t move away or wince when I touched him, but his aura was different.
Unfortunately, I had to pee super bad so as soon as I got up, he ran off. I laid on my bed and dissolved into loud, gut-wrenching sobs. Yelps.
I cannot bear to say goodbye.
I went to the living room and sat on the recliner, he was on the top of the couch. When my son shook the treat bag, he didn’t even get up. Usually, he GALLOPS after him. While I was in here, crying on and off, looking up emergency veterinary clinics and praying for the chance of finding mobile vets, as morning breaks on NEW YEARS EVE??!!, the other cat, Bella, who is very intuitive and sensitive to ‘things that aren’t quite right’, comes into my room for the second night in a row seeking a rub on her head with my foot. I am afraid to go out into the living room to see where Julian is. As much as he deserves all the comfort and cuddles he wants in his last moments, isn’t it true that humans and animals both begin a slow retreat back as they begin to pass?
I didn’t sleep at all last night because the superintendent of my building was getting ready to move and I wanted to hang out with him for a few hours before he left to pack up the remainder of his stuff in his storage unit. Turns out he stayed here another night and is still here.
It’s now 7:26am EST. The sun doesn’t rise until about 8, but it’s supposed to rain ALL day, which means dark and dreary. I made plans a couple days ago to meet a lady for coffee, but seriously, 2 nights without sleep, messed up on panic, and bewildered as to where the hell I will be able to find vet care today? The emergency animal hospital here that’s open ‘24/7’ is closed Saturdays, my cats haven’t seen a vet since 2013 because you have to be cunning to catch them, Julian would hide so well if he knew I was trying to put him in a carrier that I’d likely never find him…so I literally HAVE to get a mobile vet here—except none are working until Monday!! So what the hell do I do, call them and cry and beg and offer to pay them triple in cash to come here, only to lock my scared, sick, possibly dying, possibly already dead cat in the bathroom so he can’t run away from the mobile vet I pay $1500 to put my cat to sleep, or alternatively tell me he’s fine?
I can’t just wait 48 hours with this gut wrenching fear, sadness, and grief going through me though. Julian deserves peace and comfort.
It’s a really f’ing crappy way to end 2023 though.
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