Friday, 14 March 2014

The Long Goodbye

Eddie, the cat on the right, has been with me almost since the day I arrived in Hawaii. She's approaching 18 years old now and as a kitten wasn't expected to survive her first year. She was 10-weeks old and just skin and bones and clearly the runt of the litter when I adopted her. The person at the Humane Society told me she needed a lot of love and care to survive, and when her adopted sister, Patsy, died just a few weeks later from FIP, the vet said it was likely she had contracted the disease as well and would die young.

Well, over 17 years later she is still with me, nearly as energetic as she ever was, but the big C has been diagnosed and she has little time left. Because of her age there are no realistic treatment options other than to make sure what little time she has left is as comfortable as possible, and, of course, to feel loved.

It's amazing what an animal can do to you. Before I adopted Eddie I did not particularly like cats, I was always a dog lover, but she has been special. Right now, even though she isn't at her best, she's sitting by my feet watching me type these words although she's probably just watching to see if I have more food for her! There's almost been a human-dog-like companionship between us; she waits for me each evening at the front porch to come home from work and follows wherever I go. She'll even sit on command (sometimes). When she knows it's the right time, she comes to me for petting and a little affection, but also knows when I need time alone. But she's always there when that time ends, often with a little kiss on my nose.

In a couple of months this will come to an end. It will be hard but I know I've given her the best life possible and a much longer one than she would have had if we hadn't met.


Hilary said...

Tom, I'm so sorry for your impending loss. I know how achingly painful it is to lose a beloved feline friend. You summed it up though.. you are giving Eddie a wonderful life. You've given each other this joy. The bonds we share with our furry family members is beautiful. May Eddie have a peaceful passing when that time comes.

Anonymous said...

Oh boo, that's bad news. It sounds like you are getting and giving the comfort you both need. Aren't we fortunate that our animals can live so long. Hope all else is well.
Carla in Waimea

Keera Ann Fox said...

So sorry, Tom. Too bad they don't live longer, our wonderful pets.

Tom said...

Thank you everyone, Eddie is doing OK at the moment and we are making the most of our remaining time together, but my heart is broken right now. Still can't believe how attached I've come to a cat!

Tom said...

Quick update for those interested. Eddie is doing OK but the cancer is growing. It's in her jaw so is very noticeable, at least to me. She's still active and she's on a diet that the vet never used to recommend, but it's her favourite food (tuna and cheesy treats). Asked the vet if this was OK and he agreed, not much point restricting her diet at this stage.

She still waits for me on the porch each evening when I get home and is as cheeky as ever. Got me to open the front door this evening thinking she wanted out and then ran back inside. I always fall for that one, but who wouldn't? It's so cute and she doesn't realise she's ill yet.

Bubbles has changed her behaviour. She always seeks Eddie out and sleeps with her because she thinks Eddie is her mom. She still does that but is coming to me for affection more than ever. I think she knows something is wrong.

Thank you again for your comments and thoughts. In the big picture this is a tiny blip, but is a big thing for our little family.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Just seen this - so so sorry for your sad news. I went through a similar situation a couple of years ago - you have my full sympathies, I think I have some understanding of what you're going through. It was such a sad time, but looking back I do have happy memories of making the most of the quality time we had together those few short months.

I hate to mention it, but in case it helps (it would have helped me a lot to hear this at the time I think) - one thing that I came to realise with Skwugs was that one day I was probably going to have to make the decision to end his suffering - and at times that really weighed heavy on my mind, because I just couldn't see how I would ever feel confident making that call on his behalf... When the time came, he went downhill so fast it was actually really obvious, and I didn't have any doubts that it was time.

I had a terribly sad but also deeply touching few months of goodbye time with Skwugs... Treasure the time you have with her... If there's anything I can do - whether it's something practical, or just a chat and/or a beer sometime - you know where to find me, just shout...

- Paul H.

Tom said...

Thank you, Paul, for your very kind comments and telling us your own story. I didn't know Skwugs had gone, so really am sorry about that.

Eddie is still doing OK but it's clear she hasn't got much longer. The cancer is very obvious and although she continues to behave as she always has, it's clear, as you say, at some point things will happen quickly. I'm prepared for that - well, at least as much as I can be.

As you know things at work are extremely complicated and the most important thing for me is Pam and she is not doing well, so things are becoming a little overwhelming. But I'll deal with it knowing there are kind and caring people around like you and the others who have commented here.

Thank you all.

Anonymous said...

HI Tom, thinking of you this windy evening. It sounds like you have a lot on your proverbial plate. We're moving to Hilo soon, much closer to my work. Sending warm and positive thoughts your way.


Tom said...

Thank you again for all your comments and thoughts. I've been very busy the last few weeks so haven't had a chance to say anything here.

Eddie passed away three weeks ago. She put up one hell of a fight and remained as cheeky, energetic and affectionate as ever up until the last couple of days. She lasted a month or two longer than we expected after the cancer was diagnosed, so am so grateful for the small amount of extra time I was able to spend with her.

She was put to sleep peacefully in my arms at Aloha Veterinary Center in Hilo by Dr Rodrigues who had cared for her for nearly 18 years. He and his staff were wonderful and so compassionate.