Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rest in peace, Oliver

This morning I had to say my final goodbye to my cat, Oliver.  We had the mobile vet come over to put him down, as we wanted his last day to be as stress-free as possible.  And as most people who own cats know, a car ride can be pretty stressful.  Our vet is a half hour away now that we've moved, so it was good to avoid that.

Unfortunately, he really hated getting the shot that gave him the sedative.  He growled and struggled with it, but after that you could see that he was getting groggy, and then laid down to relax.  When the final shot was put in, he didn't put up a fight at all, and the last thing he knew was me scratching him behind the ears.

The reason my wife and I decided to put him down was that he had what looked like a tumor in his eye.  Last week, Kirsti noticed that his eye was all cloudy.  We figured that maybe he had cataracts or had injured it while playing with the dog or our son.  Since it didn't clear up in a few days, we took him to the vet.  Our vet recommended that we take him to the eye doctor, but he feared that it was a tumor.  Like any good doctor, he didn't want to make any wild speculations, but I got a sense for his attitude about the situation when I mentioned at the end of the appointment that Oliver was behind on his shots.  The doctor replied, "Let's wait and see what's going on with this."  Oddly enough, that reply makes me more likely to trust him, as he could have made a little bit of money off of me right there, but he had a suspicion that it probably would have just been a waste.

Sure enough, the eye doctor concluded that it was most likely a tumor, and it also looked like it was spreading into his other eye.  Of course, she went over all of our options - which included everything from putting him on medication to removing his eye - neither of which really had a guarantee or high likelihood of adding a significant amount to his life and well-being.

I didn't want to go through all that.  The thing is, he was still his old self, and it didn't seem to be bothering him.  However, chances were high that it would start to get painful for him. I figured that I'd keep him for a few more days, spoil him, and then put him down on a good day. Is it possible that he might have had a lot of good days left in him?  I suppose.  But I'd rather make the mistake of putting him down while he's happy than waiting for him to start suffering.

Ollie was a great cat.  My wife and I got him from animal control shortly after my cat, Tyson, had to be put down.  They said that he was five years old; the vet said more likely around three.  Either way, this guy was likely a scrapper and a scavenger for almost half his life.  I could make out little scars on his nose, and there was a tiny chunk of his ear missing if you got a real close look at it.  He also hadn't been fixed, so he was probably the father of many of the cats that were there.

Basically, we gave him five years of restful retirement.  He was a good house cat, and while he could sometimes be annoying in the mornings, as cats can often be, he was a good-natured guy.  He would almost always greet me at the front door when I got home, and he was the type who preferred to sit next to me rather than on top of me, which was good considering that he was 19 pounds of puddy-tat.

I used to feel bad that we let him get that fat.  He was already pretty husky when we adopted him, but he definitely put on a few pounds after that.  The thing is, it's not like when you have a dog where you can take the guy out for a walk to get some exercise.  Also, I tried cutting back on his food, but that resulted in a less-than easygoing cat who would randomly attack the dog and follow me everywhere cursing at me in cat-ese.  I basically figured I could have a fat and happy cat who died early or a thin and nasty cat that I wished was dead.  I went for the former.  However, I felt less bad about it when three different vets told me similar stories about either their cats or cats they knew.

The best thing about Oliver, and the one thing that I will never forget, is how good he was with Logan.  (Feels weird referring to him in the past tense when I was petting him earlier this morning.)  My son would climb all over him and use him as a pillow, and the most extreme reaction was that Ollie would give him a quick nip on the arm - not even enough for Logan to register any pain.  I can tell you that if I, or anybody else, tried to manhandle that cat the way my son did, we'd get a claw-full of pain, but for some reason, Ollie had the patience of Job when it came to my son.  He was also incredibly patient with my dog, Freyja.  When Freyja was just a little puppy, Ollie would roll over for her and play with her - again putting up with stuff that he'd never tolerate from any adult.

And while I realize that I said the same thing after Tyson died, I have no plans to get another cat for the time being.  Perhaps when Logan is older, we'll consider it, but right now there's just no guarantee that we'll get one who's willing to be that patient with a toddler.  Lucky for us, Logan is too young to understand, and will likely not remember Oliver.  Too bad.  They were pals.

1 comment:

Kyle Kunze said...

I know how you feel. I lost my 16 year old cat that i have had since I first remember as a child two weeks ago. We had to put him down due to cancer and complications.