My cat is gone.
His body is still here, still breathing. His ears twitch a little. One eye can squeeze shut, although the other has a fixed, dull stare.
And – how very like him – he can still shed twice his weight in loose fur with just one sweep of your hand.
But my cat – my cat, the only one left of the pair I adopted nearly 15 years ago – is gone.
A stroke took him sometime Monday after what was supposed to be a routine surgery to remove an infected tooth. The vet and the techs are nearly as devastated as we are. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, even though we knew, at almost 15, his days were likely to be numbered.
He went in early that morning. Husband took him, and although I wasn’t there, I know he yelled his furry little head off the whole way and likely refused to come out of the carrier. He probably purred and licked the hand of whichever tech held him to give him his anesthetic, however. He’s never bitten a soul.
The vet called me late that afternoon, sounding worried. Jake isn’t coming out from under the anesthetic like we’d normally expect, he told me. I’m going to take him home with me tonight and see how he does.
Tuesday, the vet called me again. It looks like a stroke, he said. It looks like a bad one.
The vet wanted to give him a day or so to see if he might recover. It can happen. It has happened, although this particular vet said he’s seen it only after a lot of time, and only in much younger animals. But he wanted to “give him every chance.”
So did I. So Jake stayed at the vet hospital on Wednesday, too.
Today, however – Thursday – I went to see him. He meowed when the cage was opened, a low, gutteral howl of a cry. He repeated it a couple of times as I stroked him (shaking off the piles of fur).
Otherwise, he didn’t move. Can’t move. The vet said he paddled his feet a little yesterday when they turned him over, but not so much today.
That’s not the cat who would nearly trip me in his haste to get to the front door when I came home from work. Not the cat who, if left in at night, would jump on my bed with all the subtlety of a bowling ball dropped from the ceiling, purring like a diesel truck. Not the cat who scampered up a power pole one day and had to be encouraged down by the electric company, skidding down the last 15 feet of the pole and costing us hundreds of dollars in splinter removal.
Jake never did anything halfway. He doesn’t deserve what is, for him, less than half a life.
My cat is gone.
It’s time for me to let him go the rest of the way home.