Thursday, October 18, 2007

Farewell, Big Guy

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood last night. Unfortunately, he again had bad news about his cat…

“We had to put the big guy to sleep on Monday.”

I am sorry, Will.

“Thanks. He was doing ok last week, but then one of his tumors started bleeding on Sunday – the vet counted a total of six little tumors when we were in there last week -- and we noticed the big guy was breathing a bit harder, and I don’t think he was eating as much – Mary said she did not want him to suffer, that was his time to go.”

You had said his quality of life was pretty good last week, all things considered – it went downhill, then.

“Yeah. We knew his life was not going to get any better.”

You guys doing ok?

“Not really. I mean, we’ll be ok, but this is just as hard on us as when the old girl died back in August. In some ways, this was even harder – the old girl was ready to go at the end, but the big guy still had some energy left. And the old girl was almost fifteen years old, but the big guy was only nine. The worst part was when he would look at me like he did not understand what was going on, and like he did not want to go…”

I am sure you made your decision out of compassion for him.

“I know we did. But that does not stop me from feeling guilty, and does not stop me from missing him.”

How are the other cats doing?

“OK, I think. The old girl sometimes starts meowing in the middle of the night, but she’s been doing that for a while, it’s just part of her getting older. And the little guy, sometimes I see him looking around the house, like maybe he’s looking for the big guy. I think they both know that things have changed, again.”

You should not feel guilty – you and Mary gave him a good life.

“We tried our best. And I did try to come up with a list of ten things to be thankful for, like I did when the old girl died.”


“Well, there are some of the same things I had last time – like us going fifteen years since any of our pets died. And being very thankful for everything our vet did for us. But let’s start with this – the big guy survived over a year after his first cancer surgery, and he did pretty well on three legs.”

That was last October, right?

“Yeah. And although he had to go the vet one last time, his final moments were peaceful, Mary and I were both with him. And he did not suffer too much in his final days, like the old girl did.”

As I said, compassion.

“And it was Sunday when we noticed he was bleeding, so we got to spend his last day with him. And Mary said he slept next to her all that last night. And that leads me to the most important thing – it was Mary and her love for him that gave him a good life. He was a wild young cat, and I think his bond with her really calmed him down as he got older.”

I think that is about six things.

“And I got to spend a lot of time with him the last few weeks – we would sit together on the chair on the porch during the evening. And we took a bunch of great pictures of him during his last day.”

I think I know your last two things.

“Our other two cats. Without the queen and the little guy, our lives would just be too empty. They are there for us, and we will be giving them a lot of attention in the coming weeks.”

You and Mary take care.

“Thanks. Say hi to covivant for us.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hang In There, Big Guy

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood last night. He gave me an update about his cat, who has cancer.

“Well, the good news is that the big guy is still acting like his old self. His appetite is good, and he doesn’t seem to be in pain.”


“The bad news is that he has a couple more bumps on his side, and they are ugly and red – I don’t know if they broke through his skin, or if he licked the fur off them – I’m hoping that they’re something other than more cancer, but I’m not optimistic. He goes to the vet Thursday morning.”

You said that he also has cancer in his lungs – is he breathing ok?

“Well, he breathes fast sometimes, but he’s not panting or gasping. He does seem to lie down more than he used to – I mean, he used to sit around, now he seems to lie around.”

How are you and Mary doing with all this?

“Some days we’re ok, some days we’re not. I was really worried about the big guy last week, but today, I don’t feel quite so bad, I don’t know if I’m denial or if I’m accepting the inevitable. I mean, the vet gave us a four-month supply of prednisone, and then I bought a big bag of cat food, which should last us a couple months. But Mary is worried that he’s not going to last till her vacation at the end of the month.”

Her vacation? Not yours and hers?

“She’s going to see a friend of hers in Arizona. I’ll stay home and catsit. Just like I did when she want to San Francisco on business last month.”

The cats do ok when she is gone?

“Pretty much. I try to take at least one day off work when she’s out of town, so the cats don’t feel like we’re both gone.”

Good luck at the vet tomorrow, and good luck to you and Mary with all this.

“Thanks. Hey, we have to talk about the fall tv shows some time, and I need to tell you about Sinead, and Anoushka, and Christine Kane…”

Will do. Talk to you later, Will.