I'm beginning to dislike coming to post here, because the only times I do are when I've had some kind of tragedy. There is entirely too much emo online, and I hate to add to it. Nevertheless, I owe at least writing out some thoughts upon today.
This morning, when I woke up, I was saddened to find that my cat of 12-13 years had passed away. About two months ago we had taken him in to the Vet because he had lost significant amounts of weight and was not feeling well. After a large battery of tests, we could find nothing conclusively wrong, however, the vet felt that he had Lymphoma, and some medicine was perscribed to control inflammation, infection, and his worsening arthritis. He spent the next couple of months happy, we think, with only a couple of 'bad' days. Even yesterday, he started the day off very well, eating a ton of food, begging for his gushy wet food, and patrolling the house with his characteristic click-click of arthritis. After sunset, he began to feel sick and act 'off' -- this usually means hiding, and he had bowel control issues. He slept on the bed for a while -- very unlike him in recent times -- then went to the living room and curled up in a corner. Around 2am last night (this morning), I petted him good night, and went to sleep... but when I woke up, he had passed away.
One day, back in 1997 or so, I was at the feed store and they had a box of kittens. They were immensely cute. However, I already had two cats at the time (I think) and so I didn't want another cat. However, I was cajoled by Shadowhawk -- wouldn't I want another cute little black kitty crawling on me? After some resistance, I caved in, went back to the feed store. Most of the kitties in the box were similar -- black and rambunctious. I don't know why I picked him, out of all the others. Maybe he was the one who crawled up to the wall, or the one who moved the most... I don't know. But I took him home that day.
He was tiny. Very small, for a kitten. He took in the trailer I was living in at the time quickly, finding small places to explore and hide. He was about the size of a watch case -- the little cases watches come in -- the reason I know this is because he snuck in underneath the dishwasher and almost got trapped there. The opening he crawled through I plugged up with a watch case, to keep him from sneaking back in there. That's how small he was.
He grew quickly, as cats do. There were many adventures in the trailer -- little mice existed below it, bats would get stuck in the chimney and end up in our wooden stove (we would release the bats of course, but once or twice they escaped and flew around the house), the horses would come visit as well as other cats.
During this time, we kept calling him "The kitten". He didn't really have a name. Eventually we started corrupting "Kitten" into silly words, the one that began to stuck sounded like "Kee-Taahn". That was the name that stuck for him- "Keetahn". Officially, I named him Kubla Khan -- named after another cat, Genghis, who was not mine, but had a great personality. But I never called him Kubla. He was always "Kitten" or "Keetahn", imaginative person that I am. Bill Cosby gave a comedy skit, some time ago, where he let his kids name a dog -- the name they chose was "Chickenhead". As a result of this skit I started calling Keetahn "kittenhead" as a nickname. It always brought a smile to my face to think of it.
He was very much my cat, and my best friend. He would do horrible annoying things, but I loved him anyway. Once, while I still lived in the trailer, he climbed on top of the electric stove and pissed on the elements. Being metal, and having some drainage, I didn't notice until I actually turned on the element. There is no odor more foul than roasting cat pee. They should make a chemical weapon out of it.
He escaped the trailer once, and climbed a very, very tall tree outside. It took a lot of effort to get him to come down, but he did... he stayed up in the tree almost two days!
Eventually the trailer was sold, and I moved to an Apartment, and I took Keetahn and Gypsy with me (Possum, my beautiful but twitchy and poor bowel-control third cat, I exiled to be an outside cat in the countryside around the trailer and he disappeared). Keetahn adjusted marvelously. He particularly enjoyed the loft of the apartment -- I will always remember how he would lie on the edge, sleeping, with his head over the side so he can look down into the living room. I have a picture of that which I do treasure.
I lived in the apartment a year and bought my first house, where I continue to live, in 2002. Keetahn came with me. He would watch tv with me, he would sleep on my desk, he would curl up in front of the heater with me. He would come sleep on my bed at times. He had a very quiet purr, but he would often purr while meowing, so he would produce these deep throated 'dragon meows', of "rrrrorw," characteristic of him.
He enjoyed staying in the windows and looking at the birds. He would get excited and purrmeow at them, and I would encourage him by saying "Biiirrrrrrrrrrd". Once he was sunbasking in the window for far, far too long, and overcooked his little brain. He threw up as soon as he got out, all over the wall. Lovely. It was sad, but also pretty funny.
His fur, for a domestic shorthair, was super soft. It was so soft that I compared other soft things to it. For example, a particular blanket was the "Kittenfur blanket" because of its similar softness.
He was constantly trying to escape. The door had to be opened carefully, the screen door always guarded, lest he escape into the wild backyard. Occasionally he would succeed, sneaking by, and causing me to worry enough to post signs asking for his return. Fortunetly, he would always come back. One time he crawled upwards into a tree. During this time period he was so fat, that when he tried to escape from me, he got his butt stuck between a "Y" branch. He struggled so much he wore himself out, so when he fell out of the tree I easily caught him. He last escaped only a couple of weeks ago -- even sick with lymphoma or whatever it was he had, he still escaped out of the house, into the rain, and then sat miserably near the shed because it was raining so hard.
Many other kitties would come visit Keetahn -- including big gray Ivan, white fluffy cat Buddy, and others, all memorable. Even an opossum once, Keetahn being quite excited to see one of those on the porch.
Keetahn once was racing around the house (he would often do this, particularly after going to the bathroom) and there was water in the bathtub. He raced in and jumped into the bathtub. He stayed there for several seconds -- you could see the gears in his head working -- "Wiat a minute... my...feet are getting... WET... AIIGH!" and he flailed desperately to escape the bathtub. It was a sight that would live in infamy for years to follow.
Many times I would be alone, but if I had room for Keetahn, he would come seek me out, and lie there next to me. He provided companionship. When I was sick, he would come into the bed and curl up near me, until I thought I felt better. He was extremely insistant about lying down on you, on my keyboard, and very sneaky about stealing food from your plate -- even up to the very end.
It was obvious I loved him throughout his life. "When he dies, you are going to be very sad." Yes... I am.
He would occasionally jump on or harass Gypsy. When Gypsy died, I think a little part of that died with her. He no longer had anyone to compete with. He started losing weight. I always thought it was because he didn't have to fight for food anymore with her, but perhaps it was the beginnings of this sickness.
He began to 'click' when he moved, when he walked and ran. It was an audible click-click joint noise. At first it was rare --then it got more common -- and louder. Near the end, he was not only clicking, but double clicking -- each step would produce two clicks from his hips or joints. It didn't seem to stop him from any activities. When I asked the vet, she said it is a constant low-level pain of arthritis, and perscribed some medicine to treat it. He became "Clicky-cat" because of the clicking.
He lost weight and muscle mass... he went from being a slightly overweight kitty to very skinny -- but it took about 8-9 months. I probably should have taken him to the vet earlier, instead of waiting until it was more than obvious there was something wrong. Looking at what Lymphoma is in cats, the prognosis is poor. An extra few months, if comprehensive chemotherepy is given. 6-8 weeks, if not. A few rare cats live for two years in remission, these tend to be the younger ones. Deterioration is inevitable, in those that continue to live during chemo they eventually they must be hand fed.
When he was taken in for testing, I was in Mexico City, doing work. I was told he was sick -- maybe an ear infection or something. I wasn't told the vet suspected cancer. It was the right decision to not tell me. I would have freaked out and been super anxious while in a foreign country. Even then, I began to have horrible nightmares about him suffering. In the end, he passed away in what I hope was some peace. I will not fool myself into thinking that he passed away while he was sleeping, since his eyes were open, but he did not seem in great amounts of pain -- he wasn't crying, or yowling, he seemed to be very weak and sick.
I miss him so very, very much right now. He was my best friend and companion. Losing him really hurts.
Before he died, and knowing that his end was coming, I thought I would take 'time off' from having cats, and going on vacation. I don't think I can wait that long though to try to find another kitty-friend, though -- his loss hit me a little harder than I expected.
Goodbye, Kubla Keetahn, Kittenhead, Kitten, cat of a dozen nicknames but singular personality. I'm sorry you were sick; I'm sorry death and suffering is part of life, I'm sorry I could do so little to help you. If there is a rainbow bridge, travel swiftly, and wait for me on the otherside. I wouldn't want to be there without you for long. You never saw 2010, but don't worry. There's not much more to see that you haven't seen. Now it is a new adventure for you, I hope you can show me what you've been up to when I follow you after I too get old and am ready to make this journey that we all must make.